By Syma Sayyah, Tehran
I went to Bam last week on a good deed mission. Believe it or not, I was there to attend a business meeting. The company I work for is trying to set up a cooperative in our field of activity among those who have survived the quake in order to help these proud people who have lost everything to help themselves and to get them back to work and back on their feet. We do this by assisting and encouraging them in many different ways that we can, within our field of activity and the special budget and program that have been set up for this purpose. One time donation to each person would have been easy yet neither nice nor long lasting. We want to help them to help themselves, so that they do not feel lost or idle, and use their abilities and expertise in order for them to keep their self respect as well as have a means to setup businesses again and start building their lives from there. It is not an easy task, and we shall have to go there again before it is done. Yet, I have no doubt that all our time, efforts, and travels will be worth it, as we are very optimistic about the end results.
Our trip was short, just a day, flying from Tehran to Kerman, and then driving to Bam then back again on the same day. However, after our meeting was over, I did manage to ask my local associates to take me around the city for an hour before we went back to Kerman to catch the plane for Tehran. Therefore, I had a chance to see the town again. To my absolute amazement, there was so little that had changed since I was there about a month ago! I felt a little sick in my stomach from what I did not see. It is quite worrying too. Bam seemed very quiet, and there were fewer people around and activity happening.
However, something did take my notice, a kind of New Business, a sort of modest enterprise effort, some kind of work, which helps some to be busy and meet others. This enterprise was the business of selling Petrol in water bottles to the motorcyclists. I asked the price of a bottle from a few stands that we came across, and it varied between 1500-2200 Rials (one dollar is 8700 Rials). Please see the pictures.
Since I got back, I have attended another meeting with a group of NGOs, and from what I heard there and what I have learnt from other sources, it seems that those who focus on a specific target group, with a clear well defined agenda, are more successful.
For your information, last week Mamarnasher has started a project in Bam which is for building toilets, shower-rooms and washrooms in Bam parks. You may read more about this in their web site at: http://www.memarnashr.com/en/, or you may try http://www.bam.zanan.co.ir and find out what they have been doing in Bam too.
What is certain that it will take a very long time for things to get back to normal despite all the efforts and all the money. When I talked to people in the streets, they still complained that the promises that were made initially are not fully kept and have been reduced or just plain forgotten. My business associates from Bam told me that many families with young children are not likely to comeback to live there for a while, until things are better and improved in a fundamental way. I can only hope that major hard works, which can only be done by government, gets under way as soon as possible. However, nobody I have talked to in Bam thinks this will be as speedy as it needs to be.
... Payvand News - 3/8/04 ... --