Last weekend we were invited to Roudbar in Gilan province, about 270 km from Tehran, to visit and become familiar with the work and activities of the charity Khaneh Modr-va-Kudak (House of Mother and Child). We were shown round by Mr Fotovat, who is the chairman, and we were able to stay at the guest house near to the place.
This charity was set up in 1990 after the disastrous earthquake in Gilan province left over 40,000 dead and half a million homeless in Roudbar and the surrounding area. The initial purpose was to look after some of the 5,000 children who had been orphaned by the disaster. The group which formed into a charity soon took care of some 500 children at that stage of the crisis. Later a centre was built on a large site on a hill north of the town of Rostamabad, surrounded by olive groves. The charity is 100% independent and is supported by donors from all walks of life. The organization chair is Haj Agha Ahmadi, one of Tehran's well known and successful businessmen and a respected member among his peers.
Over time, the objectives of the charity developed to concentrate on the technical training of the children as they grew up. The Mother and Child charity Foundation have now established the Seyed Al Shohada Technical Vocational Complex on the site, which is open to male students. There are 20 classrooms, a large library and dormitory accommodation for 400 students. The main areas that the college concentrates on are auto mechanics, mechanical engineering and agricultural nanotechnology. They offer training and vocational programs on Machine tools, Auto mechanics, Agricultural Machinery Mechanics, Metals and Welding, Herbal Farming, Olive and Walnut Farming and Organic Rice Farming.
Computer equipment has been donated by the Japanese Embassy. We were able to visit the technical workshops where students were working with machine tools and agricultural machinery. There is a strong agricultural connection and one interesting facility that we visited was a program for breeding Tricogramma micro-wasps. These insects attack the pests that affect rice, and by encouraging farmers to use these rather than pesticides, rice can be grown organically. There is an active research program going on here and the Tricogramma are distributed around the area.
We were impressed by the scale of the enterprise. Already construction has started on a second school building and a new sports center. The site is surrounded by olive plantations, which were planted a few years ago and will be productive soon.
The charity was able to utilise its experience following the Bam earthquake in December 1993, and they constructed 48 houses for 400 orphaned children there, as well as building a learning center for 7-15 year olds. We had visited their site for mothers as heads of family when we were in Bam a couple of years ago but have not seen the finished work and it will be our top priority next time we go to Bam.
It was gratifying to see how successfully, enthusiastically and professionally Mr Fotovat and his team at the Mother and Child Charity Foundation were doing so much good locally, and concentrating on sustained and steady, carefully managed progress and development.
We were told that there are a large number of families that are currently enjoying the kind help of this charity and through this help they are able to lead a better quality life and enable their children to enjoy a more superior education that they would otherwise have received.
During our second day in Rostamabad we met several people who had been orphaned during the earthquake and had been under the care of the Mother and Child foundation and are now have children of their own, one such person was Mr Ahmad who invited us to his home and there after enjoying their kind hospitality we enjoyed drinking freshly brewed tea and meeting his wife Parvin khanoum and their children.
The charity is in the process of adding a sport centre and school and is in much need of financial help and assistance by those who believe in doing good and doing it through caring for children and young adults well-being as well as their enabling them to learn a trade and get an education so that they can become useful members of society.
When I asked Mr Fotovat what else the charity needed he said technical education! Our college needs Iranians expert from across the world to come and teach and share their know-how with these young men. If you would like to know more about the charity or to support its vital work, please see their website or contact them.
Here are a few photographs to share with you.
... Payvand News - 05/20/09 ... --