After a long period of pre-production and wait for appropriate permits to shoot a film in Iran, we have finally begun. The Iran portion of the trip will take about 34 days and will take us across the country.
Currently we are in a rather crappy hotel in Khorramabad a city located in the Zagros mountain range in the western part of the country. We left Tehran last Tuesday and headed for Khomein, the birth town of Ayatollah Khomeini.
There I met with an incredible 18-year-old young man named Hamidreza and his family. His father committed suicide a few years back after he was jailed for the second time for being a heroin addict. There he injected himself with a syringe full of air and committed suicide.
His mother, uneducated and young, was left with her three children with no means of supporting them and subsequently suffered from major psychological trauma and tried to kill herself a couple of years later.
They lived in a mud shack without water, electricity, heat or bathroom. They had to beg their neighbors for water. Throughout all this, Hamidreza kept going to school. He worked through the night cleaning beans and went to school during the day.
Their situation has much improved now. Through the help of a charity organization named the Child Foundation, they receive a monthly allowance which has allowed them to rent a small lot on which they have build a small mud house, made up of a room, kitchen and a small yard with a bathroom. They now have electricity, water and a gas heater
A few years back Hamidreza dreamt of becoming a religious teacher. Now in his last year of high school he says he has found his real calling. At his school's work-study program he has been working hard on increasing his computer knowledge. He wants to be a graphic artist and one day work on animation.
Today I met with more extraordinary children: Three sisters and a younger brother without a father. Their mother remarried after their father's death and moved to a village far from their own. An adorable 10-year-old little girl from a gypsy family of six — also without a father — who live in a very small mud shack above six sheep and hay den.
And at last, an orphanage house filled with thirteen children without any family, twelve girls ranging from 8 to 15 and a little boy of six named Reza. There are 24 more cases just as extraordinary as these which I will visit on this trip.
Already I have been humbled tremendously and learned more than I could have ever imagined.