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IDB Award for Saideh Ghods, the Mahak chief


By Syma Sayyah, Tehran - Mahak is a non-governmental organization dedicated to caring for children with cancer in Iran.  It runs a large hospital in northern Tehran on private donations. Among Mahak's many successes I would like to inform you of one of its recent ones.




Not only was their art show at the Niavaran Cultural center a great success for all those loving and caring Iranians from all aspects of life who realize the good hard work that Mahak is doing and the high standards of dedication to the goals, the transparency and the excellent use of volunteers among many other standards that it is setting which, hopefully one day, will be used by other NGOs in Iran but also their achievement last year of the Swiss SGS award for NGO transparency.




Last month Mrs. Saideh Ghods, the founder of Mahak, was awarded the prize for achievement by women in the Islamic world by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Jeddah in recognition of her work and efforts to improve children's healthcare in the past 17 years.  Ms Ghods won this award jointly with Mrs. Runa Khan of Bangladesh.


Mrs. Sadieh Ghods(Sharifi), the founder of Mahak


I went to see her after she came back from Jeddah to give her my congratulations.


She told me that this award was a very clever idea that IDB had started some 4 years ago in order to promote women in Islamic world despite all the negative propaganda by the international media regarding their backwardness and lack of achievements. It is given in 4 different categories, technology, development, literature and dialogue.  I was surprised to meet a Saudi lady who specialized in Nano technology at Harvard.  Mrs. Ghods received her prize for Development.  Mrs. Ghods was given this award not only for setting up and running Mahak for many years but for her work as a writer and her interest in the environment.  She was nominated by UNHCR and received her award from King Khaled of Saudi Arabia.  The ceremony was attended by many other national and international signatories. 

IDB Award Ceremony


I asked Mrs Ghods what receiving this award meant for her?


"I always believed that life is more than the daily routine of normal womens life.  When one receives an international recognition when the other contenders were from Egypt, India and Pakistan and then it becomes a serious project and one must take it more seriously and constantly try to improve and reach higher.  The fact that we have reached a high standard is because one gets more energy and thinks that the right thing to do is to keep going and if there were any doubts about what we have done they have subsided. As for the future, I think without getting too involved in an issue in the society is to point out how important it is that NGOs and individuals when undertaking any work to compare themselves by international standards." 



What did surprise you?


"I met many well educated Saudi ladies in a very modern city,  it was a fantastic positive shock.  I learnt many things there. The co-winner had come with a great presentation of her organization proposals and with constant efforts managed to gain a big loan for her work."

I asked her why Iranians organization and individuals do not have a global view and what she thought were the reasons behind it?


"I can not say that they don't have it, what I can say is that many other countries like Egypt can enjoy and benefit from the international pool of knowledge and resources, about ourselves - Mahak - I can say that we did not have it and I can see that here are many points that they can learn from.


I am very much interested in history and I think the reason is that we are a very proud nation and would like to think that we are not needy and do not like to ask for help at all.  Other elements such as oil revenue have not been helpful for us in overcoming this shortcoming.  Help has many different aspects it is not just financial, but exchange of experiences and ideas.  We only know one aspect of it and it is money wise and we all know that financial aid has strings attached."




I must agree with Mrs Ghods that it is high time that we as learned and caring Iranians, do not use the excuses of the shortcomings in our way and all start to truly try and learn and make changes happen in ourselves, our approaches and dealings and have the international platform in our mind while we make long term plans and keep and improve standards individually and collectively like Mahak has done.


Well done Mahak and all the very best to Mahak and its work and those who make it happen


Mrs. Sadieh Ghods(Sharifi) and Mr. Nader Sharifi


Please visit Mahak's web site for more information on their activities:


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