A City Without Beggars

A City Without BeggarsA City Without Beggars

While beggary has turned into one of the major social problems in almost all big cities in the world with Iran being no exception, Tabriz, the capital of East Azarbaijan Province is an exception -- no beggars, no homeless addicts and not many in need.

Therefore, an analysis of the path trodden by Tabriz to become the only city in Iran without beggars would be appropriate.

Poverty is the main reason for beggary; so when people hear that there is a city without any beggars, they may at first think that all its residents are rich. But this notion is incorrect and it should not be presumed that all people in Tabriz are well off and wealthy, or that the city’s doors are closed to the poor, Khabaronline reported.

Therefore, what is the secret of Tabriz’s success in keeping out beggary? The answer is proper urban cooperation and management and efficient charity institutions.

For example, one of the biggest non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Tabriz is ‘Mostmandan’ (the poor) charity institute, and as its name specifies, it helps the poor.

The NGO has a long history and since 1973 when it started work it has supported many in Tabriz. The motto of the NGO is a ‘hadith’ (saying) of the first Shia Imam Ali (AS): Do not desist from promoting good deeds.

Its rule is that the poor seeking assistance fill out a form with their personal information. Their economic condition is then evaluated carefully by a group of trustworthy members of the institute and those genuinely in need are identified. Also, periodic unannounced inspections are conducted to see whether or not applicants really are in need of financial aid.  

The NGO members also patrol streets to identify the needy and after evaluating their needs they are provided support.  Activities of organized beggary gangs are reported to the police or the judicial authorities.

One of the main reasons of the institute’s success is the interaction and cooperation of urban bodies without which it would not be possible to eliminate the nuisance of beggars.

Saeed Jalali, former president of Mostmandan says, “Rich and poor are everywhere in the world and there are no exceptions to this fact. There are also needy people in Tabriz, but attending to them in a proper way is the only successful criterion in preventing the social malaise of beggary.”

Another measure taken by the institute is job creation for the needy.

He pointed to the impact of people’s attitudes towards beggary and its prevention. “The people have faith in our measures which has convinced them that they shouldn’t give alms to those begging in the streets.” They know that the real needy can and should seek help from the charity.

Shahram Dabir, head of the Tabriz City Council, also says that the council has paid special attention to charitable NGOs.

An interesting point is that unlike other cities, a part of TCC revenue is allocated to charitable organizations.

The historical city of Tabriz is the fifth most populous in the country after Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, and Karaj. It has a population of 1.5 million people and is a major heavy industry hub for automobile, machine tools, refineries and petrochemical, textile, and cement production industries.

The city is also famous for its handicrafts including hand-woven rugs and jewelry. An academic center, some of the most prestigious academic and cultural institutes, are based in this northwestern city.