In Iran there are over 9,000 very lucky children getting help from a network of international supporters. But this help wasn’t organized by a far flung foreign charity, it’s a grassroots organization started by an Iranian-American who was compelled to help children in Iran. In 1994, Dr. Yasrebi founded the Child Foundation in the basement of his Portland home after hearing his father share stories about Iranian patients so poor that they couldn’t afford to pay for medicine even when they were critically ill. Touched by these stories of poverty and suffering, Dr. Yasrebi and his wife began sending money to Iran to pay for poor patients’ medicines. Then his friends began to help him. Soon the operation went from his basement to his garage, and then it transformed into a full-fledged organization with a primary focus on helping poor but talented students remain in school despite their poverty.
Sponsoring Excellence In Children
The Child Foundation likes to see itself as more than a charity. It’s focused on giving worthy students a helping hand instead of a handout. According to Child Foundation’s current Director of Outreach and Development, Masoud Modarres, each child sponsored by the organization receives a “scholarship” designed to help financially support them so that they don’t have to drop out of school because of the family’s money issues.
“We want the children to be proud of the money they receive,” Masoud said. “That’s why they receive a certificate and it’s made clear that they will only get the money if they continue to do well in school.”
Utilizing local social workers, the Child Foundation works with their sister organization in Iran to identify needy but talented students who can benefit from funding. Each child and their family are vetted to ensure that they really need the money and that the student’s grades are good enough. It’s this type of effective partnership that allows the Child Foundation to leverage local resources so that they get the funding to the children who need it the most.
Creating A Powerful Connection
Masoud, who joined the Child Foundation in 2009, says that the most powerful thing about the work he does is the connection he creates between sponsors and the children receiving funding.
“Whenever someone starts sponsoring a kid, they get a report every six months or so telling them how their kid is doing,” Masoud said. “This kind of thing is very satisfying because each sponsor can see how their money is helping that child. This is very fulfilling for the sponsor.”
Masoud knows firsthand the deep feeling of satisfaction that comes with directly helping a child in need. One day, while at work in his Portland office, Masoud came across an article about a little girl named Yeganeh in Iran who went to a construction site everyday with her father because her mother died and the father couldn’t afford to send her to daycare. The story touched him, he tracked down the father through the reporter and offered the help of the Child Foundation.
“Well, after I called the father on his cell phone, he was shocked,” Masoud said. “He couldn’t believe that someone all the way in the United States cared enough about him and his daughter to call him and to offer to help.”
Masoud connected the father of the little girl to the Iranian Child Foundation and they got the funding the family needed to keep the little girl in daycare where she could learn.
The Child Foundation has grown through the years, not only does the organization sponsor 9,300 children in Iran, it also sends funding to children in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Nepal, and the United States.
You can learn more about the Child Foundation by visiting: