Growing up, Norooz always meant family gatherings, delicious sabzi polo mahi, picking out new clothes, the exchange of crisp $2 bills, and the joy and laughter that is so uniquely tied to being around extended family and loved ones during this special time of year. Even as an adult, I still get excited in the month of March, eager to visit with family members, share stories over large meals, and plan for the year ahead.
This year, I set out to learn more about what the experience of Norooz is like for the young girls living in orphanages that Moms Against Poverty supports. We asked the children to draw and write about Norooz and their feelings about the holiday and the upcoming new year. Some of the things these young girls mentioned were similar to my own experiences growing up- the excitement of getting time off school, the aroma of hyacinths and jasmine flowers, the setting of the haft sin. However, these orphaned children also described a sense of fear and loneliness that as someone who grew up in the United States with the privilege of income and family could not relate to and was deeply impacted by. The girls we spoke to did not have families to celebrate with. They didn’t have grandmas to cook them kuku sabzi or uncles give them eidis or parents to buy them new clothes or count down the new year with them.
I was incredibly humbled by the beautiful drawings of these young girls, touched by their ability to see beauty and color in a world that has failed them in so many ways, and reminded by their words and stories that our work supporting impoverished children is never over.
But these girls deserve to have their stories and experiences shared beyond just me and the MAP team. They wanted the world to see their beautiful drawings and hear their call for support and hope. That is why we decided to send all of you, our MAP family, a Norooz card in the mail this year that did not just come from us, but came from those children. I am grateful for our team of volunteers who came together to mail over 3,000 letters, I am grateful for all of you who opened the letter and read Mansoureh’s story, and I am grateful for each and every one of you who have supported MAP in ways big and small, allowing us to make a difference in the lives of these orphan girls and tens of thousands of other children just like them.
This Norooz we are asking our supporters to sign up to give a monthly donation of $14 to MAP, in honor of the Iranian calendar year 1400. Your contribution will not only ensure that Mansoureh, the orphaned girl from Kerman who bravely shared her story in our letter gets the nourishment, care, and education she needs, but will allow for us to continue providing lifeline support to children and families all over the world.