Islamic Republic of Iran

Mini Dublin Group (MDG) in Iran Visit School for Vulnerable Children

The guests with Dr. Afshar and Ms  Arezoumandi in the middle

04 May 2016 -
The Iranian Life Quality Improvement Association (ILIA) is an Iranian non-governmental organisation that promotes better health for children with special needs. This includes children from refugee and migrant communities as well as street children. ILEA aims to empower children through prevention of substance abuse, providing basic education, social support, healthcare services as well as family and community interventions in Tehran and Alborz province.

Ms. Monireh Arezoumandi, Head of ILIA, said that ILIA was established after several women met a group of vulnerable Afghan children, and wanted to address the needs of that particular community. In 2006, the NGO opened a centre in the Karaj, about 20 kilometres west of Tehran. Volunteers from a local university joined to help run the centre, and provide counselling to these vulnerable families. This began with assessing the specific needs of these vulnerable families, and providing services to address those needs. After three years, ILIA opened an additional centre in Share-Rey, Tehran. This was followed by opening an additional informal school (Nemat- Abad) and a psychosocial support clinic.
UNODC has been associated with ILIA since 2009 and supported piloting of new counselling techniques that are resulting in reducing drug use among vulnerable youth. UNODC is also piloting life skills training packages with ILIA which is resulting in significant improvements to social behaviours for the children.

UNODC in Iran and the Drug Control Headquarters (DCHQ) organized a visit for the Mini Dublin Group (MDG) to a school for over 600 vulnerable children run by Iranian Life Quality Improvement Association (IlIA) in Shahr-e-Raya, Tehran. The MDG included representatives from the Embassy of the Republic of Austria, Royal Danish Embassy, Embassies of Finland and New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland, Royal Norwegian Embassy and the British Embassy.


MDG Focal Points briefed about ILIA

Dr. Parviz Afshar, Deputy of Demand Reduction and Public Cooperation Development of the Drug Control Headquarters welcomed the guests. He emphasized the importance of primary and secondary prevention programmes and described a number of successful prevention programmes that have been implemented in the country in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). He added that drug abuse was a serious concern for Iran, continued support is still needed and good practices from European countries such as United Kingdom, Switzerland and Austria could benefit Iran.

ILIA identified two main problems that these disadvantaged communities face.  One of the main problems is a lack of funds.  Many times, parents are forced to take their children out of school so they could work and provide an additional income.  This leads to lack of literacy and other skills, the children are unable to do much more than basic labour, which limits their opportunities for the future, creating a self destructive cycle. Another problem pressing this community is exposure to drugs.  Because of the high rates of drug use in these disadvantaged communities, children are exposed to drugs, domestic violence and other related problems at a very young age.



ILIA provides a vast array of services and opportunities including: (1) Free primary education for children; ILIA also helps students go to university after they have finished their primary education; (2) Life skills training to the children; (3) Parenting skills training; (4) Training of parents on rights of children/child abuse prevention; (5) Sports teams; (6) Healthcare services such as healthy meals, vaccinations, soap, toothbrushes, etc; (7) Psycho-social Support to the children and their families; (8) Brief interventions to determine the reason for drug use and the best path to stop it. 


MDG visit children in the class MDG visit children in the workshop

Accompanied by Mr. Leik Boonwaat, UNODC Representative in Iran, the Representatives of the MDG had the opportunity to visit the children in their classes and workshops. They were able to see how the needs of the children of mainly afghan migrants were being addressed by providing life skills and better opportunities. As well as how this can help to stabilize further migration by providing hope for a better life to these very vulnerable communities.