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Bam Interim Report - 2
February 24, 2004

ERFO’s Director in Iran, Mr. Jamal Farivar and a group of volunteer social workers, as well as social workers from Behzisti, have been hard at work in Bam for the past 4 weeks. Due to the extent of destruction and massive confusion in Bam, they had to contend with major difficulties in getting the cooperation of field officials at the outset. Following several meetings with high-level regional officials, they were able to get the list of orphans from the Kerman Province Behzisti office. After two days of poring over the lists, they have identified 1153 children including 542 girls and 611 boys who have lost both parents, and 1094 children who have lost their fathers only.

Once this list was cleaned-up and prioritized, ERFO volunteers began going from tent to tent in order to find the orphans, determine their level of financial need, and start the ERFO required documentation process. This task proved to be much more difficult and time consuming than previously thought; Bam is a big city, tents are spread over a wide area, and dissemination and collection of information – due to lack of functioning public media – is painfully slow. In addition to tent visits, the volunteers have visited every school, orphanage, and nursery to find the listed children and verify their information. Through this search and verification process, they have identified 224 orphans without parents who were not on the original lists provided to us by the officials.

To date ERFO has completed the identification paperwork for more than 400 orphans and we expect, with continuous hard work in the next 3 weeks, to be ready to decide on how many of these children we will be able to support. Our decision will be based on the amount of money we will have raised by then. The goal is to raise enough money to provide a grant of $2000 to each child in the form of a Melli Bank long term CD. This amount would yield about 300,000 Rials/month (equivalent to $38) enough to sustain the financial well being of an adopted child by his/her adopting family until he/she reaches the age of 18. At that time, the young adult can get the entire amount as seed money to begin his/her independent life.

My concern is that we may not reach either of our stated goal levels ($2000 for every orphan). At this point, I would guess that with everyone’s help we may raise close to $500,000 before the end of the sanctions waiver. This, of course, is a major accomplishment on the part of the Iranians living in US, but far short of the needed $2,000,000. My fear is that we won’t have enough funds to cover all the children. Consequently, after identifying all the orphans who have lost both parents, we’ll probably be forced to support the most deprived subgroup of them with grants ranging from $500-$1000 each. We will then continue to actively work on their behalf to raise more money and provide them with additional help; this ongoing effort of course is possible ONLY if the sanction against humanitarian aid to Bam victims is lifted wholly or extended for a year or more.

On a brighter note, I am glad to report that ERFO’s grass-roots fund raising effort is continuing without losing steam. To date we have sent $300,000 to Iran, and soon will be able to send another $100,000 – when pledges arrive. In addition to contributions by generous individuals, several volunteer groups, organizations and associations have been active in collecting donations on behalf of ERFO for Bam orphans, including:

Foundation for Youth in Vancouver, BC
Landsman Foundation in Newton, MA
Islamic Center of New England in Sharon, MA
Iranian Association of Boston
Iranian American Society of New England
National Iranian American Council (NIAC) in Washington DC
Iranian American Society of New York
Noor-Va-Danesh Foundation of New Jersey
Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America

We hope that we can count on you to solicit your friends, corporations, and philanthropic organizations to help ERFO achieve its goal. We also appreciate any help you can give us in applying for possible matching funds in the next few weeks.

I also would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Reza Naghavi and Dr. Azita Naghavi Khan of New York, with whose aid we were able to apply and receive $40,000 from the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America.

Lastly, I invite you to participate in any of the several fundraising events organized by the Friends of ERFO and volunteers in San Francisco, Manhattan, and Boston in the coming weeks. Among those events are: Lala Rokh Restaurant in Boston, and the Park School in Brookline, MA; Concert in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco; and Fundraising Ball in Long Island, New York.

Mohammad Farivar,




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