My favorite Social Entrepreneur is Mrs. Saideh Ghods who has founded MAHAK charity to support Kids with cancer in Iran in 1992. She had experienced having a child – Kiana- with cancer and had witnessed firsthand the difficulties faced by her child.
There were a lot of difficulties during kiana’s treatment. The required medication was scarce and very expensive. Not having enough information about cancer and the side effects of the drugs while witnessing her daughter’s suffering, life had become barely tolerable for Ms. Saideh Ghods.
While referring to hospitals, Ms. Ghods saw fathers and mothers travelling from far and often disadvantaged regions struggling with financial difficulties of paying for expensive treatment of their child and a place to stay in Tehran for the duration. Sleeping in hospital yards or in street corners, many had become aware that cancer is a disease that may require more than a single treatment. In actuality, it may take years of overwhelming pressures, an experience during which many families did not survive as a unit.
She pledged that she would set up a center that would act as a sanctuary for children and their families in a similar situation. In 1991 she started a non-profit organization named MAHAK as a charity in support of children with cancer and their families.
Once sufficient volunteer support and financial means through bazaar sales had gathered, the Board of Trustees decided to purchase a land and construct a purpose-build structure in Darabad in northern foothils of Tehran. They succeeded in buying a piece of land of 4700 meters square on the beautiful hillsides of Darabad. Originally thay had plan to build a shelter but later on with help of a philanthropist they managed to build a specialized cancer hospital for children.
The hospital was officially opened in 2007 and today it is the single largest and best equipped pediatric cancer hospital in Iran and the Middle East offering all medical services, housing a complimentary residential center for parents, and contains all the offices of MAHAK Charity-Care organization.
MAHAK is funded entirely by donations and has supported 23,000 children over the past 26 years. Now, MAHAK has over 700 employees, thousands of volunteers, and over 80,000 members.
MAHAK is a wonderful example of how the need for a cancer center for children was developed with much kindness and love into a fully functioning hospital. In Iran MAHAK has the same good reputation as CHEO has here. People trust MAHAK foundation and they easily donate to this organization.
My take away from MAHAK charity is that Ms. Ghods faced a social challenge and difficulty. She pledged to improve the situation and she spent great deal of her time and resources for this greater cause. She used social networking and advance marketing ideas to raise the society awareness about kids cancer situation. They did a very good job in branding their charity. From beginning they started targeting official organizations to get their support they also did a good job in raising awareness and get support from all layers of the society.
If I want to advise someone to follow MAHAK social entrepreneur ship model, I would say, running for a good cause is very important, something that you believe in with all parts of your existence. It is very important to go all in and find same minded people first. In building a successful social organization, the leader has a key role but after that it is very important to build a good and effective board of trustees where strong social individuals backing your idea.
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