Carmel Valley students hope March 1 art event brightens picture for women in Iran

Sara Esmaili, Farah Farjood and Hana Chitgari organized Art for Hope, a charity art bazaar to take place March 1.
(Karen Billing)

Torrey Pines High School juniors Hana Chitgari, Sara Esmaili and Farah Farjood are hosting Art for Hope, a charity art bazaar to support disadvantaged women in Iran, on Sunday, March 1. The young girls took on the project on their own initiative, independent from any organization, as a way to raise funds and awareness for the Omid Foundation.

The event will be held from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Sage Canyon Elementary School. Families and community members are invited to enjoy art for a good cause in addition to a silent auction and raffle, live music performance and delicious Iranian food with the entrance fee.

London-based psychotherapist Marjaneh Halati established the Omid Foundation in 2004, to strengthen the social, emotional and economic competencies of young women in Tehran. The organization’s “safe haven” shelters serve women ages 15 through 25 who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.

“They have therapists and teachers to educate them and give them the tools to help them be successful in their community,” Hana said.

As Farah said, the organization’s shelter started by serving just 15 women, but the number has now grown to 200 in two centers in Tehran.

“They support them with whatever they need to get jobs and fight through what they’ve been going through,” Farah said.

The girls learned about Omid through Farah’s sister, Nadia, who organized a 5K Walk for the charity while she was at Torrey Pines. The girls wanted to come up with their own way of giving back.

“We wanted to do something different than a walk or just asking people for donations,” Sara said.

In putting together the art show, the girls approached artists at Torrey Pines, Canyon Crest Academy and many of their family friends. Some of the artwork of girls from Omid will be on display as well. Art will be for sale, and the girls have asked artists to donate all or at least 25 percent of the proceeds from the artwork sales to Omid.

All three girls have been involved in their school’s Interact Club (the high school version of Rotary) and learned a “few tricks” from participating in other events.

It was a new challenge for them to create their own fundraiser, finding a venue, approaching businesses for silent auction items and all the little organizational details that go into planning a successful event. Sara’s mom, Paris, is a teacher at Sage Canyon, a connection that helped them reserve space for their event in the school’s multi-use room.

“It definitely taught us a lot,” Hana said of the process. “It’s a real-world experience that we wouldn’t get in high school.”

Those interested in donating art and other pieces for sale can contact arts4hope@gmail.com. Tickets are $10 for students and children and $20 for adults. Visit omidfoundation.com.


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