My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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TEL-AVIV, Israel —It is the season of Ramadan in Iran, where we were last week, and it is the practice of all Mohammedans to fast from sunrise to sunset. So they eat two large meals at sunset and before sunrise! Right in the middle of the season are the two weeks observed by Iranians as we observe our Christmas, with gifts for the children and great family gatherings!

Soon after our arrival in Tehran I went to the Nemazee Hospital, a fine building that is well equipped and staffed but unable to take all the patients they hope to have when they are better financed. There also is a nursing school, and there's a clinic for the care of eyes, both of which they hope to enlarge. This could become a fine medical center and, with close cooperation with the university, it could develop into a fine teaching hospital.

Trachoma and tuberculosis are the biggest medical problems. There is need for all the young American-trained Iranians to work in different parts of the country, but it seems as though much still is centered in Tehran itself and too little spread out into the country.

The country seems to need roads, regular air schedules far more frequent than at present, and industrial development in outlying areas. A program of cooperatives to foster and regulate home industries seems vitally necessary if village life is to be improved.

The tribes can hardly be expected to settle into village life until they are convinced that such living would be more advantageous, with work opportunities, health advantages, and school opportunities. This is still an illiterate population as far as the masses are concerned. There are schools in Shiraz and in some of the villages but the compulsory education law is not enforced.

We visited two of my daughter's friends, one in a big house with a lovely garden and the other in a small house. Everywhere there are flowers, and water is much used for decoration, as in Pakistan and India. Almost every garden has an eight-inch-deep reflecting pool.

I visited the university hospital, where I was told there is an enormous waiting list of chronic cases, and some of these people come and lie at the door and on the steps hoping to get in. We also saw the Red Cross maternity hospital and a prenatal clinic in town that also lacks funds to meet its needs. One section of this hospital is for foundlings brought in by the police—abandoned babies who are cared for here and at a year old given out for adoption.

Many well-to-do people wear Western clothes, but many women wear a kind of large enveloping cloth which covers them from head to foot and which is drawn around the lower parts of their faces. Partly this is protection against dust which through much of the year flows everywhere. It is amusing to see the latest type of high-heeled shoes beneath this coverall, if the lady is a lady of fashion.

We walked down past some of the shops and saw the thin native bread being baked. We also watched some native craftsmen make the pretty inlaid boxes, in attractive colors and designs, which are used for various purposes such as holding jewelry and serving implements.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Tel Aviv (Israel) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 25, 1959

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.