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Mehr - An Iranian NGO that invests in women and helps to empower them


By Syma Sayyah, Tehran



Recently I went to a very enjoyable charity bazaar organized by Mehr Women Charity Organization. I had visited a similar event about three years ago and was keen to see how the NGO had grown since I last reported on it.



We arrived at the bazaar in a hall in Vali-asr Avenue about 11 on a Friday morning.  There I was welcomed at the reception.  The bazaar was busy with men and women, young and old;  many stands were offering all sorts of goodies, mostly edible stuff or consumer goods, and run by groups, companies or individuals.       


The food stands were most tempting and I ended up buying a lot of kokou, kofeteh and shami for dinner.  I also spent lots of money on buying dry vegetables- sabzie polou, ghormeh-Sabzie, Nana Khoshek (dry mint) and gifts for the family.



There was a lot of buzz and excitement.  Many, mostly young people were behind the counters and greeted visitors with big happy faces.  Soon I learnt that they do this often and for them it is a great deal of fun, as well as making them feel good; they give their time and energy for higher ideals of helping fellowmen.  I have a few pictures for you so you can see how lively and jolly this was.


Ms Ferdows Manuchahrain, Mehr's Deputy Chair


At their last bazaar, I became interested in those who organize such successful events and asked Zari if I could meet those who run Mehr.  Soon afterwards, a meeting was arranged and I went to their modest yet welcoming and friendly office. There I met the founder and the head of organization Mrs. Khalili-Manoucherian who started Mehr Charitable Foundation which was established in 1997 but became official in 1999, under Police Registration License No. 11264.



Mrs. Khalili told me that this was truly her dream. During her childhood she spent a lot of time with her grandparents, who were extremely kind individuals and helped many people around them. It was then that she became familiar with the pains, problems, suffering and unhappiness of many women, who came for help, and heard their stories. Since then, she always wanted to help women, less fortunate than herself, to stand on their feet and to help themselves.



She set up this NGO to help women who need help and assistance to run their lives as heads of family. Women who according to a 2000 census account for over a million, most likely 1.5 million of the population.  Their mission is "to bring hope and dignity into women's lives by providing them with an opportunity to achieve economic independence."



The organizations has supported many young women to get educated, learn a skill or go to university to be educated  to level that will secure them with a good job, better future and more involvement in society at large.


I have come to strongly believe that when an NGO or a charitable organization narrows its aims and purposes, they have a better chance of success in attaining their goals.  Mehr believes in promoting and improving women's lives by empowering those women who are family heads and the main breadwinners.  Through this, they aim to reduce depravity, vice, decadence and rakishness and bring safety, stability self-confidence and a happy and healthy home.   In this way they help open a horizon of hope and create sense of positivism for tomorrow, in an environment that hope is scarce and efforts are rewarded very little.



Mehr helps women to establish means of work and employment for themselves. For example if someone knows how to sew and needs to buy a sewing machine, they lend her the money and she pays it back in installments at 0% interest.  Mehr has had many women who have used this system and made successful businesses out of it.  You do not have to be completely deprived, just a woman who wants or needs to make it on her own and earn good honest money from her work and efforts to qualify.



Mehr Charitable Organization elevates the status and self-esteem of those women in our society who have had a misfortunate but are willing and try to do something about it to change their status. This organization is exactly how I believe an NGO should be: it is open, transparent, caring, has well defined goals,  and is run by active non earning members and an active and knowledgeable board which quietly but surely is doing  a lot of good for our society. 


Mehr Main Programs include:


Mehr Major Activities include:


Further details, including band details can be found at  their web site:

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