Akhtar Ghadiri (affectionately known by her grandchildren as mama-nini) lost the fight to brain cancer only 3 months after being diagnosed and passed away peacefully on November 30th at the age of 83.
Anyone who knew her could attest to the fact that there are no words that can-do justice to describe the life of such an amazing woman. From the start of her life, she was dedicated to giving to others. Although she herself lived with little resources she always managed to devote herself to philanthropy and social activism. Until the end she always wanted to give to those in need. When she was in her last days she asked her children to make sure no money is wasted on her and instead be given to the children in the charities she supported.
Akhtar was always moved by the innocence of children and dedicated to improving their future by empowering them with skills and education; but many of these children had to first meet their basic needs of food and shelter before they could focus on self-improvement.
Akhtar’s understanding and devotion to the plight of these forgotten children stems from her own difficult life circumstances. She was married at the age of 16 and produced five children. When her husband died tragically at the age of 36, against the advice or backing of her family,
Akhtar bravely escaped the perils of a politically chaotic Iran. True to her nature she did not give in to her circumstances and brought her children to the US and settled in Los Angeles in 1976.
She single-handedly supported this large family by working long days as a seamstress. She spent the next 20 years dedicating her life to raising her 5 children alone. Even with her limited resources her home was always welcoming to other friends and family in need. She supported many young people by housing them in her home to help them pursue their education and dreams. She always believed in education (formal or informal), philanthropy and social activism as the building blocks of a better human being.
Through difficult circumstances Akhtar became involved with Al-Anon (Families of Alcoholics Anonymous) in the US which brought forth a profound self-realization and changes in ways of thinking that few would embrace at age 60. But Akhtar was a woman who never stopped pursuing change and growth. Her involvement with Al-Anon defined much of her later years. She was one of the pioneers of the movement to bring forth the subject of addiction and the struggle of families with addiction into the forefront of Iranian families. She fought hard and helped in establishing Al-Anon in Iran, in a culture which adamantly denied the existence of the disease.
In her works, she was moved by the perils of the children whose parents were afflicted by addiction and the lack of resources they faced. They were a forgotten group who had no defense against the chaos of their families and the brutality of the government; they had no defense against the circumstances into which they were born. To this end Akhtar founded a non-profit organization to support the children of those affected by addiction. The organization provides shelter, education and resources to the children of addicts. Currently the charity has supported 12 children for the past 5 years. These children depend on the charity for their housing, clothes, books and to receive proper care and medicine. Each day their numbers grow and with it grow their needs. Akhtar’s dream was to one day build a housing community for these children.
During her travels to Iran Akhtar became involved with an already established non-profit charity whose mission was to help disabled orphan girls. As a matriarch with 4 daughters herself the needs of these girls and the lack of resources was evident to her. The charity was barely able to provide basic needs for these girls let alone the physical therapy and care they badly needed. Akhtar decided to take on fundraising for this charity from international sources and helped in establishing better facilities for them. Her dream for this group was also to one day establish a housing community which specializes in their needs.
Akhtar always said “one must do” she believed in action and getting things done. She lived an exceptionally brave and inspirational life, never-stagnant in her pursuit to learn, grow and embrace change, no matter her age. She was an incredible matriarch and “mother” to her children, grandchildren and anyone who was lucky enough to be touched by her. We strive to follow in her footsteps and continue her legacy of social activism, giving and philanthropy. We encourage you to support the children in her charities so that one day we may bring forth her dream to establish permanent housing with specialized care and education for these forgotten innocents.
- Parrish Sadeghi
- Patty Zaremski
- Davis Saadian
- Samann Rahimi
- N Lahiji
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