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Mahak - A True success story and now a way of life


By Syma Sayyah and Paul Sanford, Tehran


'Wherever love comes to stay, all the impossible becomes possible'



Mahak - the charity for children with cancer - is a well known name in many Iranian homes and they are right to claim that a large proportion of people in Tehran and in other cities know their name and what they do.


Here is a short story about this best managed, best performing and 100% transparent NGO in Iran which takes care of children up to 14 years old who suffer from cancer.  Last week Mahak was presented with the Swiss SGS NGO Benchmarking award for the best and most transparent NGO in the Middle East.


Mahak hospital in Darabad


About 18 years ago a proud Tehran mother faced the devastating news about her darling daughter's illness.  She swallowed her pain and, out of love, wanted to do something so that others would not find themselves alone when faced with such agony.  She talked to some wonderful good people around her as well as to her friends who all came to share her love and compassion for their fellow humans and together they formed Mahak.  Happily, years later, this mother's daughter recovered from cancer and is now studying for her degree at University of Berkeley in California.


Last week, we were delighted to be present at Mahak's Farhad Khabyari auditorium along with many of Mahak's supporters and sponsors at the first major gathering since their new hospital became officially operational in April 2007.  It took nearly 12 years, from the first idea of building the hospital in 1995 to last April when the hospital obtained all necessary permits and became operational, thanks to those in charge of the government agencies and organizations who speeded up the process out of their kindness.


Dr Karbasizadeh


Dr Karbasizadeh donated the initial estimate of 20 billion rials in memory of his beloved late wife who had died of cancer, but the total costs came to 59 billion rials (about $6.5 million), the rest of which was entirely raised by other private individuals.  The hospital is one of the most advanced cancer hospitals in the region and since its opening it has cared for more than 7236 in- and out- patients.


CEO, Mr. Samadd Taheri


That evening, we were welcomed by the outgoing CEO, Mr. Samadd Taheri, who told us that Mahak was built on and for love and it thrives on hope.  He explained how active young Mahak volunteers are, making it run smoothly and efficiently, and how everybody who works there adds that magical sense of dedication and love to his or her work, to enhance and optimize the devotion received from donors and support.


Mahak is the house of hope for children with cancer and their families during their illness, and there is an ongoing support system afterwards. Mr Taheri said that the daily operating costs were more than 30,000,000 rials ($3200) and he hoped that love would bring the required income to Mahak to continuing giving a safe, first class service to children in need to take away their pain.


Mr. Arassab Ahmadian


We then heard a short report from the present CEO, Mr. Arassab Ahmadian.  He stated that in their chemotherapy unit, which is equipped with some of the most advanced equipment, they work two shifts and work with 32 other university teaching hospitals in Iran, and there is a Mahak office in 10 hospitals in Tehran.  In their research section they cooperate with many international organizations who are involved in cancer research and last year they hosted an international conference with UN agencies and received a most admiring letter of commendation from Michele Fedoroff (the deputy of NGO section of the UN).


We then watched a most loving and moving short film about the hospital in which some of those who help to run this wonderful hospital addressed the audience.  By the time the film ended I doubt if there were many dry eyes.


We heard from the most active member of the Mahak and our host that evening, Dr Karbasiezadeh.  He told us Mahak was built with love and affections for our fellow men and quoted this line "wherever love comes to stay, all the impossible becomes possible".


He said that Mahak's success is due to its care and devotion in helping others, with honesty, clarity and sincerity.  He said that Mahak is not just a name, it is now a way of life for many - a provoking thought.  It helps families with cancer patient children to take care of their loved ones; Mahak helps the children to live happier lives and instead of the thought of being alive or not, helps them to think about how to live in the future.


Mahak's logo is love and the light of this hope is in the hands of Mahak's supporters, donors and sponsors.


The final speaker was Mrs Saeideh Ghods whose original vision, with the help of others, turned into Mahak and she told us how proud she is to be an Iranian and how wonderful it is to be part of a nation that cares for its fellow citizens with such love, care, devotion and concern.


Mrs Saeideh Ghods and Mr. Sharif


The audience was then asked to pledge their choices of days for the daily running costs of the hospital for the next 120 days.  Some donated a day for their spouse, parent or children's birthdays or memory or their anniversary of a loved one, or just for sheer gratitude for being well.  Nearly 240 million toman ($250,000) was raised in less than an hour!


Dear Payvand readers, I have had experiences with many NGOs in Iran and, in my opinion, Mahak is the best operated, best run, best managed and effective NGO in Iran as well as being the most modern.  I appeal to you all, on behalf of all the children who so freely enjoy Mahak's benefits, to find a way to help and support Mahak.


Operating Theatre


Their accounts are open for your donations - see the "How to Donate" page on their website, here, for details of their international accounts.  US supporters may find it more convenient to send donations to the International Society for Children with Cancer (ISCC) in California, who support Mahak. 


The MRI Unit


Please help them in order that not only their kindness to reach the needy but also their message of openness, transparency, accountability, high standards, compassion and effectiveness and success in achieving its goals as an organization reaches other organizations (NGO or government) in our nation in order to make Iran a better place for all, so that we can all be more proud of being Iranians.  It is up to us individually to do what we can to make the world a kinder and better place!



Mahak - the Society to Support Children Suffering from Cancer is not just a great internationally recognized Iranian NGO but a way of life.




About Mahak:

About two decades ago a mother who had experienced having a child with cancer and had witnessed first hand the difficulties faced by her child, pledged to set up a center that would act as a refuge for children and their families in a similar situation. With the assistance of the same friends and relatives who had helped her through her own ordeal, a board of trustees was selected and MAHAK Society to Support Children suffering from Cancer was set up as a non profit, non-governmental organization and was registered under number 6567 in 1991. MAHAK has been active from that day on in helping children with cancer and their families.




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