Jul 15, 2014, 5:45 PM
News Code: 2721414
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SWO reaches out to people with special needs

Tehran, July 15, IRNA – The English language newspaper Iran Daily's next issue, that will hit newsstands on Wednesday, has dedicated an article to Iran's State Welfare Organization (SWO).

The SWO was established 34 years ago this week with the aim of improving the living conditions of vulnerable people—those suffering from mental and physical disabilities, children with problematic parents, street children, women breadwinners, victims of child abuse and drug addicts.

Iran marks Welfare and Social security Day on July 16.

Although before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, about 17 NGOs, state and public organizations extended help to such people, SWO was the first centralized organization to make efforts in this regard, said Homayoun Hashemi, the head of SWO.

"The nature of SWO's activities distinguishes it from other organizations and entities whose primary goal is to produce money, make profits or pursue political goals," he said.

"SWO is a social organization based on humanitarian ideals."

Hashemi put the main activities of SWO into four categories, namely prevention of social disorders, and offering social, rehabilitation and empowerment services.

"The organization provides needy people with shelter and house to help them integrate into society and lead a healthy life," he said.

Noting that drug addiction prevention is among the main activities of SWO, Hashemi said last year (ended March 2014), more than 13 million individuals attended courses in this regard.

"About 808 rehabilitation centers are active across the nation, which means all addicts have the chance of quitting the unhealthy habit," he said.

The SWO chief noted that about 50,000 orphans or children with problematic parents were organized in the last Iranian year.

"Some 34,000 university students are currently supported by SWO," he said, describing them as the country's assets.

Hashemi said 191,000 women breadwinners are receiving services, of whom 55,000 have been insured.

"Women empowerment by providing them with jobs and life skills is among the tasks of the organization," he said.

The organization has been working to reduce the rates of innate and accidental disabilities over the past two years.

Educating people about proper ways of driving and teaching them to pay more attention to traffic laws and regulations were among SWO programs to increase road safety and reduce accidents over the past couple of years.

Hashemi said 59 books on prevention of social disorders have been published by the organization so far.

The official noted that 1,400 personnel are offering consultations to people in different fields.

Hashemi hailed social workers for their role in reducing vulnerabilities.

Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei said reaching out to people with disabilities, pensioners, those unable to work and abandoned individuals are among the duties of SWO.

"A sense of wellbeing makes societies stronger," he said.

He hoped this wellbeing will expand in the current government.

The minister said many talented children are being supported by SWO and a number of them are among top rankers of university entrance exams.

Rabiei urged employers to pay attention to such people when filling job vacancies.

Koroush Sharafshani, a deputy head of SWO, said his organization is supporting street children without parental support who usually quit school.

He, however, said 85 percent of street children are reported to have parents who are reluctant to send them to school since culturally they send them to work at a young age.

Sharafshani warned that the rise in the number of people using synthetic drugs has increased cases of child neglect and abuse in the country.

He said the Hotline 123 has been launched by the organization whereby citizens can report any case of child abuse or other social disorder.

Farhad Aqtar, the deputy head of organization for prevention, said 1.3 million people received training nationwide to increase their life skills.

"The training included prenuptial consultations, culture of living in apartments, civil rights, proper traffic behavior, environmental preservation, and divorce and addiction prevention," he said, adding that people of all ages participated.

President Hassan Rouhani said paying attention to the needs of disabled and orphaned children are among the top priorities of his government.

"We are responsible toward them," he said, calling for the involvement of all people in charitable works.

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