Greetings & shlama,
It's been a while since I've written to many of you, so I hope that this e-mail will find you healthy, busy, and quite exuberant with the historical news and the unprecedented changes that are taking place in our ancestral homeland, Iraq. What we are witnessing today, may indeed be the answer to centuries of prayer of our scattered, yet resilient Assyrian Christian nation.
With the beginning of Spring right around the corner, it is once again time for us to organize for Kha b Nisan, and I am very pleased to announce that our local shotapoota, the Assyrian American Association of San Jose has marked Saturday, March 20, 2004 as the day we will be celebrating the arrival of the year 6754 in our glorious history.
As many of you remember, last year our Association raised over $18,000 at the Kha b Nisan celebration that was pledged in its entirety to assistance and support of our people in the war torn Iraq. This year, once again our shotapoota has pledged the entire net proceeds of Kha b Nisan to assisting yet another group of Assyrians who are struggling in a silent war in Iran. Those are the innocent Assyrian children who live in Tehran, Iran, and who are attending the previously private Assyrian schools of Shoushan and Behnam, which are now operating under the direction of Iran's Ministry of Education.
After the 1979 Islamic revolution, which forced mass exodus of over 80,000 Assyrians from Iran, and the sudden population boom in the Capital city of Tehran, the Islamic government of Iran declared both Shoushan and Behnam as public schools, effectively opening the doors to many non-Assyrian students. Though our people fought hard to keep these two schools from turning public, but the dwindling number of Assyrian students could no longer meet the required attendance, hence loosing the battle...
Today, with an estimated 8,000 Assyrians that still live in Tehran, many families under the hardest economic conditions continue to send their children to Shoushan and Behnam, in an attempt to keep the Assyrian children together and away from the ever-growing presence of Islam and its direct influence on our children in other public schools.
We currently have 160 students and 16 Assyrian teachers at the all-girl Shoushan school, and 150 students and 6 Assyrian teachers at the all-boy Behnam. Through our research and discussion with some of the Assyrian teachers, we have come to realize that out of the 310 students currently attending Shoushan and Behnam, an estimated 60 students live under tremendous economic pressure, and may not be returning to these schools next September.
In addition, there are another 80 grade school students whom their families are simply poor, and will never be able to afford the tuition or the cost of busing to and from Shoushan or Behnam. Sadly enough, some of these families live in what is considered the undesirable south side of Tehran, known as "Makhsoos", where their children are forced to attend the poor neighborhood schools...
I think some of you are amazed to know of poor families in Iran, especially since no one ever talks about them! Unfortunately, the facts are different and quite sobering. The children of the remaining families in Iran need a better education, so that they won't end up as labor workers, following the footsteps of their struggling parents. They also need to stay in an educational environment where they will be with other Assyrian children, and under the careful watch and mentoring of Assyrian teachers. The cost of this gesture of hope and this simple goal is a mere $120 per student per year, which is the cost of tuition at Shoushan and Behnam schools. With help from willing Assyrian teachers, we also would like to begin the teaching of our Assyrian language, which due to lack of funding and available space has been halted at both schools.
Our goal is a simple yet an important one, and we believe that together we can make it happen. This year, with the historical political progress of our people in Iraq, and a promise of a bright and better future, we have much to celebrate.
So let us get together to celebrate Kha b Nisan 6754, and help us make our goal of helping our children on:
Saturday, March 20, 2004
$35 per person (at the door)
Please pass this message on to others and help us by selling 5 tickets to family and friends. Please send me an e-mail request for tickets, and we will arrange to get them to you as soon as possible.
Please accept my sincere and warmest gratitude for your continued support and your undying devotion to our people and innocent children.
With my very best,