OMID Foundation was set up to help young women in Iran who are victims of sexual, physical or mental abuse. Starting with a small group of 15 women, OMID now caters to more than 200 women at any one time. More than a quarter of them are Afghani immigrants.
The young women who come to us have typically been put into care from an early age, run away from abusive homes, and all live in extreme poverty. They often suffer from severe mental health and emotional difficulties, mostly stemming from their experiences of neglect, of physical and sexual abuse, and of exposure to drugs and violence.
OMID works in a society where there is widespread societal acceptance of violence against women in Iran. The legal system gives very few rights to women, most of which are only selectively enforced, leaving women with little protection. The Iranian authorities themselves estimate that there are in excess of 500,000 marginalized young women in Iran who are the victims of abuse, violence and neglect. That makes the work we do, that much more urgent. We help those women who are victims of abuse.
Our success rate is exceptionally high with over 85% of the young women who enter our program regaining their emotional stability and re-integrating into society. They reintegrate by working in a prominent company in the business community; starting their own business; or by enrolling in a university program.
Over 50% of graduates maintain a close contact with the Omid Foundation because in many cases we became the family they never had.
We firmly believe that no one understands the suffering of marginalized young women better, than a young woman who has experienced it herself. This is the main reason why one of our main objectives is gradually to transfer major parts of the management of our organization to our own graduates. 12% of our current staff are already our own graduates and we are planning to increase this to 16% in 2018 and 24% by 2020.
How we work:
OMID centers take the best teachers and psychologists in Tehran to provide therapy and education for over 200 girls at any one time. Our unique holistic approach helps the young girls achieve self-awareness, self-determination and self-sufficiency. We value and nurture the voices, hearts, and minds of these underprivileged and vulnerable young women and help them transform their lives.
Close to 200 young women are enrolled in the three-year OMID program during the day time. After classes they return home. For those who have run away from abusive families or been abandoned, home is the OMID shelter, a local authority home or by themseves. The others live with their families. During their time at OMID, the girls attend educational and vocational training classes and workshops including IT, English language, Graphic Arts, Accounting, Tourism, Creative writing, Gender empowerment, Human and individual rights, Marriage and family, and Financial planning.
What we do:
With a hands-on approach, our staff implements a unique holistic program at our centers in Tehran. In Iran, our management team is supported by more than 80 full- and part-time paid employees, most of who are teachers, social workers, and clinical psychologists.
We focus on a wide range of areas including care, counseling, empowerment, education, and vocational training. We also implement social and recreational activities and life-skills training to facilitate social integration and readjustment. The program culminates either in work placement, with enabling our clients to set up their own businesses, or by them enrolling in a university program. The lives of the young women in our care are truly transformed by our program.
As we look ahead to the next 10 years we are embarking on a process of revamping our program to become more gender sensitive, youth focused, and trauma informed. Our plans include:
The development and implementation of our intensive training program that will turn OMID into a trauma informed organization is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.
The main demand for our services is in Tehran, as Tehran still remains the destination of choice for runaways in Iran, because of the anonymity it offers. We therefore do not plan to provide direct services in other cities in Iran but plan to start traininin in 2018 staff of NGOs in other cities in order for them to provide such services locally.
We are also planning to set up an entrepreneurship center that will have the capacity to assist up to 250 women, which is anticipated to become operational in 2019.