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Gedaa Ahani
The metal beggars of Tehran

By Farhad Radmehrian
February 6, 2002
The Iranian

They're on street corners, across from every park and in front of buildings on almost every block. They're everywhere!

What I'm speaking about is Tehran's infamous "Gedaa Ahani" or "Metal Beggar", which is exactly what these things are -- charity collection boxes all over Tehran and other major cities.

With few exceptions, they look alike. Yellow and blue boxes made of steel standing on a metal bar. They are owned and operated by an organization called "Imam's Assistance Committee" (Komite-ye Emdad-e Emam), a charity founded by Ayatollah Khomeini to assist the poor.

The "metal beggars" all have serial numbers and are routinely serviced and emptied by a large organization of workers dedicated solely to this work. All boxes feature one or more motivational slogans, emphasizing the importance of giving to the poor. Most common slogans are "Charity cures 70 illnesses" or "Partner with us in the happiness of orphaned children" or "Charity guarantees your afterlife".

Besides the yellow and blue boxes, there are some off-color ones that are not operated by the Imam committee. These collection boxes are usually located near a local mosque or religious foundation, or a seminary school which collects money from pedestrians.

Here's a collection of photographs, originally posted on, are from different sources, including They give you an idea how many of these metal beggars are in Tehran. From now on, they won't escape your attention. You will spot them almost immediately and ass you begin to notice how many there are, you'll ask yourself, "Where does all the money go?"

>>> NEXT photo (13 total)

>>> NEXT photo (13 total)

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