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No Beggars in Tabriz

Begging is a common feature of the big cities throughout the world. The widespread economic downturn and unemployment are amongst the factors contributing to this problem, which is even more pronounced in the developing countries due to the total absence or the inadequacy of a welfare system.

In Iran, the cities of Tehran and Mashad have the highest number of beggars. Some efforts have been made by various official bodies such as the Municipality and the Police to combat this problem, but they have mostly been short term measures without addressing the root causes. Often the beggars are rounded up and driven off the streets or even out of the city, only to return a little while later, perhaps in a different guise such as street fortune tellers or peddlers selling worthless knick-knacks.

There are also many private charity foundations operating to help the needy through collecting donations and organizing fund raising events. However, none of these have succeeded in eradicating begging or in finding an effective solution for this social problem. Perhaps the only city in Iran which can boast of being almost free of beggars is Tabriz. It owes this to the ‘Tabriz People in Need Foundation’ which was established forty years ago thanks to the vision of a group of prominent bazaar merchants.

The Foundation operates a very well organized and effective system of helping the poor in a dignified way. Bank accounts are opened for them in branches throughout the city where a monthly allowance is deposited. Arrangements are also made with several doctors and pharmacies to treat patients and supply medicines free of charge, and coupons for them to receive free bread are handed out. The Foundation’s income is provided through private donations and some innovative fund raising ideas.

In this multimedia report, the tireless efforts and impressive achievements of this remarkable organization are further described by the Foundation’s managing director, Khalil Mohammadzad.

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