CLC Abroad: Amira Fateh and Omid-E-Mehr

One of the photos taken by Amira of the girls' artwork.

Over the summer,’Empower Her Voice’ founder Amira Fateh volunteered at the Omid-E-Mehr rehabilitation centre in Iran, working with young women and girls who have suffered and continue to suffer with domestic violence. We caught up with her and asked her to tell us about her amazing experience, and the impact it has had on her. 

Omid-E-Mehr is a rehabilitation centre for victims of violence and domestic, sexual and emotional abuse in Tehran, Iran. I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks there shadowing the social workers, helping out with the English lessons but mainly simply being there for the girls who wanted to have a chat. A typical day is made up of  about 4 lessons, a lunch break and small breaks between each lesson. They often involved art, dance and self-defense but most were ‘life classes’; self empowerment, anger management, group therapy and ‘letting go of the past’. What I found most interesting during my time there was the girls’ thirst for knowledge and self-empowerment; without hesitation, the girls continually challenged their teachers and peers during debates even though they had come from backgrounds which had discouraged them to be opinionated. They later told me that this was become they felt as though the centre was an open environment in which they could finally express their views freely, a place where their voices were heard. I became good friends with the girls who soon adopted a different name for me; foreign girl. Even though I assured them that I was a born Iranian, with two fully Iranian parents, and have lived in Iran for over 10 years, all the girls saw was a girl living and studying abroad. I soon realized that this was because of their fascination by my life in the UK; that even though I was Iranian, I could walk around without a headscarf, that we were allowed to study whatever we wanted, and that our opinions mattered just as much as the teachers’.

“I would love to go to university one day, one girl said to me, but my dad just doesn’t want me to. He says its wrong for a girl to be educated. But one day, I secretly went and applied; I had it all planned out, I would tell him that I got a job as a cleaner in the day but go to my lectures.  A few days after applying, I came home to him with the application form in his hand. I still have the scars from when beat me for going against his word.
If there was one thing I learnt during my time there, it was this: if things start to get tough, just change your perspective.
If you want to know more about the Centre or would like to donate, don’t hesitate to come and talk to me and donate through EmpowerHerVoice by buying one of our tee-shirts; all proceeds go to Omid-E-Mehr as well as Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre.
If you would like to find out more about the charity directly, visit http://www.omid-e-mehr.org.

 

 

 

 

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