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OMID Foundation's Angel Program

Source: Omid Foundation

The Omid Foundations (Empowering disadvantaged young women in Iran ) consist of three registered charities, which were established by Marjaneh Halati, a London-based social psychologist and psychotherapist. It is her unique vision and passion that is the driving force behind their growth.

The Omid-e-Mehr Foundation (established in 2004 in Iran) is the main operating entity in Tehran. Omid Foundation USA (established in 2008 in the US) is responsible for awareness and fundraising in North America. Omid Foundation (established in 2006 in the UK) is responsible for awareness and fundraising in the rest of the world.

Starting with one operational center in Tehran with 15 girls we are now supporting close to 200 girls in two centers.

Could you be our next OMID Angel?

The OMID Angel program is open to young people 16 or over from outside Iran. During the two-week program, Angels have the opportunity to visit an OMID Center in Tehran and experience day-to-day life with the vulnerable young women we support. Hearing the girls’ stories, and working alongside them, will be a life-changing experience for OMID Angels and we hope that when they return home they will become passionate ambassadors for the charity - educating more young people and fundraising to help us open a new centre.

Following her recent experience on the OMID Angel program, Manijeh Mahmoodzadeh from the USA said, “I thought I would be coming to try and help the girls, and teach them about life in America. Instead they taught me a lot about life, optimism and the will to go on...Working with all the staff was incredibly inspirational and has reaffirmed my drive to pursue a future in women’s empowerment.”

Why not read Manijeh’s report on her two weeks at the OMID Center and watch a video she has made featuring some of the young women she met. They explain what OMID means to them, and reveal their hopes and dreams for the future.

If you, or a young person you know, would like to apply for the OMID Angel program, please complete an application form and email it to


Manijeh Mahmoodzadeh's report about Omid's Angel program:

Scattered amid the hallways of Boniad-e-do the Omid Foundations' second center-groups of girls are huddled together sipping tea and chatting excitedly. There is a feeling of warmth in the air as students shuffle in and out of various social workers and teachers' offices, some seeking guidance and others just catching up. Between the students, professional and service staff at the center, it feels like everyone here is part of one big family. The atmosphere is genuinely contagious, to say the least; I never expected to be greeted by so many hugs and smiles every morning. The social stigma here in Iran is that underprivileged youth tend to be poroo, needy and ill-mannered. However, I have found nothing but the opposite: charming, polite young women with open hearts and noble dedication. Many of these girls travel from far and wide (some with daily commutes of over two hours) to access the services provided by OMID.

At 9:00, the giggles are drowned out by the ringing of the morning bell and the groups disperse, hurrying off to their first classes of the day. The girls are split into two groups, each group attending four classes daily. Instruction here revolves around a model of holistic education in which students benefit from classes on a variety of well-rounded subjects, including English, computers, physical education, and arts. The center also offers OMID'S flagship courses: Life Skills, Together Towards Empowerment and New Look Towards Life. Life Skills is led by a resident psychologist, and utilizes cognitive-behavioral psychology to teach identity awareness. Students learn tools for understanding and managing their feelings and relationships. Together Towards Empowerment engages students in a critical discussion of lifestyle topics and their relation to achievement. The girls work together on goal setting and analyzing their beliefs and behaviors in terms of self-development. The New Look Towards Life seminar splits the girls into smaller groups and engages them in an active discussion of contemporary topics drawn from their everyday lives. Each group then develops a unique project that explores the subject in a real-world environment. Recent projects have included a trip to clean a nearby park and filming interviews about gheyrati, the Iranian term for overprotectiveness in relationships. In addition to these core classes, the girls benefit from a variety of alternating workshops, such as stress management, photography, journalism, gender health and safety, yoga, and positive psychology.

What is perhaps most interesting about the OMID program, is the style in which these classes are taught. The staff and educators are completely intentional in their approach to empower their students with the information they provide. There is some lecture, but mostly discussion and active participation. Educators here employ a bidirectional model of learning in which the students and teacher learn from the opinions and experiences of one another-this progressive method is more adaptable and helps to tailor education to the students' needs. Classes involve hands-on activities and projects, and knowledge is always applied to real-world scenarios. There is a focus on the relativity of life and its interpretations; when responding to opinions, teachers always validate the student's viewpoint, rather than suggest an answer may be right or wrong. In this sense, the teachers play a more personal, mentor-like role in students' lives. The emphasis on art classes encourages creativity and provides a medium for therapeutic self-expression. Lastly, there is a vital mix of group and individual work, which helps to foster a cooperative environment and teach students teamwork. In fact, the value of collaboration extends outside the classroom: the young women here take turns performing various chores around the center, such as preparing breakfast, cleaning up after lunch, washing dishes, and collecting trash. In essence, students here are learning how to critically gather, interpret, and apply knowledge. This approach is precisely what distinguishes OMID as a unique empowerment institute.

The OMID centers in Tehran are neither women's shelters nor schools, in the traditional sense. Rather, their progressive model combines the most modern theories of pedagogy, therapy, and leadership into a program that is genuinely enjoyable for everyone involved. Spending time at OMID has opened my eyes to issues of gender equality, socioeconomic privilege, racism, and human rights that I was never aware played such an important role in the lives of many Iranian women. Although the staff at both of the OMID centers are pioneering this transformational work, there is still much progress to be done in combating social injustice in Iranian communities. During the time I've spent here, I've come to love and admire these young women and their valiant spirits. Two months at OMID have completely changed my life... I can only imagine what a miracle it has been for their students. Please consider donating today.

... Payvand News - 09/16/13 ... --

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