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Left behind flowers of life, and Khaneh Mehr

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

Persian: Dar inn khaneh Mehr asst, keh bazz asst hanouz
English: This house is open since there is love therein

I have often written here about the many charitable organizations (NGOs) that work with children in Tehran. This time I would like to inform you about yet another good place that I have known about for some time and I have been meaning to write about their works and activities. Yet every time something happened to prevent this, this time I was determined and here is my short report on the activities of the Society for the Protection of Street and Working Children (SPSWC).

The NGO is run by Mrs. Khojasteh Hosseinipour, a darling lady, very kind, gentle and calm and yet strong willed, firm and determined. I think we met at a general NGO meeting and then she came to our house to see me and from then on we became friends.

She is the kind of lady that does not give up easily and when one door is closed she looks for another to open. I was with her last year when she visited the center they helped to run for teenage boys in the east center of Tehran. She and her colleagues knew all the boys by name and were aware of their lives and what was happening to them.

Since that time the authorities have closed this center. The city authorities and official welfare organizations do not have sufficient means or the enduring will to do much for street working children. Like many metropolitan cities Tehran has a large number of children living in the streets, many of them have fled from unhappy or broken homes and often from abuse and poverty.

The society started its activities for Street Working Children in May 2000 in Darvazeh-Ghar in the south side of Tehran. The main aim of the society is caring for the children, teaching them and at the same time improving their well being physically and mentally, and empowering emotionally. The organization has many other activities including HIV programs and helping to support the children who collect garbage. The Mehr (compassion) center in Karaj, was established two years ago and I have visited it twice, I have been impressed with the work there and the changes that had taken place in six month period between my visits.

The Mehr center is located in Agha Tappeh in Karaj, about 60 kilometers west of Tehran. There the children's basic literacy needs are looked after as well as their mental and emotional development. At the Mehr center, which is run by mostly local volunteer ladies, children and young adults are taught some health and life skills education as well as some vocational training and recreational activities.

Through these activities and field trips it is hoped that they improve their cultural awareness and knowledge. It is important to note that the staff has noticed a significant correlation between their increased education and their well being and awareness about their rights and self worth.

There are also special self help workshops and classes for parents, which started at the parent's request, once a week for fathers and twice a week for mothers, to improve their knowledge and understanding of children issues.

The SPSWC has held classes at the Mehr Center on HIV prevention and life skills workshops under the guidelines set by WHO as well as setting up a seminar on "from sacrifice to martyrdom" at the Ministry of Islamic Guidance. They also undertake to test children's emotional intelligence in order to help those children with emotional disabilities, shyness or aggression.

The SPSWC took active part in setting up a network working group for all the NGOs involved with children's welfare and street working children. They are in close contact with UNICEF for help and guidance on welfare and education of the children they care for.

At present there are about 80 children between ages 6-14 under their care, who receive a breakfast supplement during their break, including fruit, milk, fruit juice and cakes regularly, and occasionally lunch when someone donates it. Many I witnessed would have a few spoonfuls and take the rest home to share with their families.

With sufficient help and financial support, SPSWC hope to set up another Mehr house in Tehran soon.

For further details please see their website

The Society for Protection of Street and Working Children office is located at:
4th floor, No 35, 25th Street, North Kaj Street, Youssefabad, Tehran 14318
Telephone 88028508 & 88003278

The Mehr House is located at:
Karaj, Mehrshahr, 2nd Shariatee (Agha Tappe) after water pump, Yass Alley
Telephone 0261 3320 277

The society is registered with the Ministry of the Interior no. 14174 in 2002

... Payvand News - 1/23/07 ... --

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