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Saideh Ghods: One Woman's Volunteerism Providing Hope to Thousands

Source: PARSA Community Foundation

Saideh Ghods
(photo by Syma Sayyah)

In the northeastern hills of Tehran's Darband district lies an 18,000 square meter hospital and rehabilitation center dedicated to treating children diagnosed with cancer. The center was created by Saideh Ghods, whose two-year old daughter, Kiana, was diagnosed with cancer in 1986. Throughout the rounds of chemotherapy and checkups, Mrs. Ghods witnessed the lack of facilities and resources for underprivileged cancer patients which led her in 1991 to establish the Mahak Society to Support Children with Cancer. In the past two decades, Mahak has been pivotal in helping over 12,000 patients facing cancer.

Funded entirely by donations, Mahak is now one of the largest non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Iran, largely due to Mrs. Ghods' work. Mahak's hospital and rehabilitation center houses a clinic, chemotherapy laboratory, radiotherapy department, physiotherapy ward, water therapy section, operating rooms, MRI and CT scans, radiology ward, intensive care unit, library, children's playroom, restaurant and amphitheater.

In order to ensure that underprivileged children outside of Tehran also have access to these facilities, Mahak's social work department arranges for children from the provinces to be transferred by ambulance or plane. These children account for 60% of Mahak's patients. As a result of their efforts, Mahak has been officially recognized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as an organization that helps Afghan and Iraqi refugee children. Mahak provides treatment to these children both at the hospital and onsite at refugee camps.

Photos: This is not the end of the world...The Mahak Children

Mrs. Ghods has received a number of honors and awards and was recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of 2008's 50 Women to Watch. Mrs. Ghods is continuing to expand her efforts with support from Iranian-Americans in collaboration with the International Society for Children with Cancer, a U.S.-based and volunteer-run nonprofit organization established in 2004. ISCC has undertaken Mahak's mission to provide care to children in developing countries. By operating in the United States, ISCC has access to resources and a larger platform. Contributions by U.S. citizens and residents to NGOs in Iran - whether to send medical supplies or funds - are regulated by the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). This year ISCC obtained a license from OFAC enabling it to accept donations from U.S. citizens and residents to further its humanitarian mission inside Iran through support of Mahak.

Mrs. Ghods' story is an inspiration to all who are faced with personal challenges and use them as a catalyst to help others with similar tests. Her drive and spirit not only served her own daughter during a difficult period, but have also benefited thousands of children and families since then.


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.



Web Site:

  • MAHAK Hospital & Rehabilitation Complex, MAHAK St, Oushan, Lashgarak Road, Aqdasieh, Tehran, Iran. P.O Box: 19395-5445
    Tel: (+9821) 22451414, (+9821) 22490544-7,
    Fax: (+9821) 22445454

  • Chizar Office:
    No 36, Neda Sq, Chizar,
    Tel: (+9821) 22213946, (+9821) 22213888,
    Fax: (+9821) 22201312

  • Mellat Office:
    No 36, GF, Mellat Tower, in front of the Mellat Part, Vali-e-Asr Avenue.
    Tel: (+9821) 22025518, (+9821) 22037473, (+9821) 22037474

  • Tehran Villa Hostel:
    No 79, Shahid Safavian St, Fourth St, Tehran Villa Junction, Satarkhan.
    Tel: (+9821) 66504136

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