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Iran: A Little Heaven for Physically Handicapped Girls in Tehran

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

My friend Diana sent me on a mission a couple of weeks ago to oversee making a documentary film about Popli Foundation's ( or works that have been done here in Tehran for their annual meeting for further fundraising. I had arranged with Mr. Mani Haghghi, a young and hard working film maker to help me in this project. We were to film three places, including a site of a future school for the foundation, but mainly their pride and joy the 7th Tir.

photos: Syma Sayyah

With his assistance and the driver that the office of Diana's son had provided, we went to this place. What can I say. I expected it to be good but this was beyond my expectation. 7th Tir is a very clean, orderly place for young handicapped girls between ages 7-35 to live and study there. The girls study in-house for school and for high-school they go outside. There are many other classes to occupy the girls and teach them new things, including painting, candle-making, sewing and so on. There is a bright library that the girls have access to. The new wing was built with the full donation of Popli Foundation; it is a bright building with many classes, the library, and the head's office on the ground floor. There is a large lift-escalator that those in wheelchairs can easily use. On the second floor there is a large auditorium where Mitra played the grand piano there wonderfully. She played, 'ellah-nazz' so movingly that brought tears into my eyes, and I was unable to take any good pictures.

photos: Syma Sayyah

The place is managed and has been run for the past six years by the wonderful, friendly and capable Ms. Haghighatgoo, a mother of one who lives there with her mother and daughter. She had become a social worker, after she graduated in Social Work from Tehran University about 15 years ago. She seemed to me like a rolling ball, made of love and determination, as well as affection and respect for her work and her responsibilities, running here and there attending to this and that. She informed me that there are 70 staff members working in three different shifts. Most of them are well educated and properly trained. The girls have their own rooms and use communal kitchen facilities, which reminded me so much of my university days. There is also a pool for the girls to receive hydrotherapy.

photos: Syma Sayyah

I was told that one of the main aims there is to empower its girls to study and work outside the compound and be independent, at least. They take new girls, if there is a space, when someone leaves for different reasons, after they are assessed by the Welfare organization staff first before being referred to this compound.

photos: Syma Sayyah

They conduct general fundraising events a few times a year. When I asked them what they needed urgently I was informed that they wanted a video projector. And how much more they could do for the girls if they had a steady Extra Large Income!

photos: Syma Sayyah

My true admiration goes to the staff and in particular to Ms Haghighatgoo, and I can only wish that we had more people like her in all aspects of social life but in particular at other homes. What touched me most about the girls there was not the fact that some went to universities, and some had great talents in art but also they generally seemed so confident and self assured. One of the girls, whom we visited in her room, wanted to be a movie-star!

photos: Syma Sayyah

7th Tir, in my opinion, is the best example I have seen of Private (Popli Foundation and other donors) and Public (behzisti-welfare organization) positive and effective collaboration.

photos: Syma Sayyah

You can visit their shop where they sell the girls' handiworks at 7th Tir, Shariatee (old Shemiran Road), near Pol-e-rumi, Shahid Akabri street, Haleh Alley No. 4

The shop is open in the mornings.

photos: Syma Sayyah

Related article:

A visit to Tehran's Hafte Tir Center, Rehabilitation Home for Girls

... Payvand News - 6/1/04 ... --

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