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Ali Majdfar | all galleries >> Throughout IRAN > Tribute to Helen and Abol Ghasem Bakhtiar
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Tribute to Helen  and Abol Ghasem Bakhtiar
01-MAY-2010 Ali Majdfar

Tribute to Helen and Abol Ghasem Bakhtiar

Tus - Khorasan Province

In Chahar Mahal Bakhtiari Province of Iran there is a protected region called Helen region or Helen Mountain, which includes 40,000 hectares of mountain and oak forests. The region is named after an American nurse, Helen Jeffreys Bakhtiar, wife of Iranian Dr. Abol Ghassem Bakhtiar. Here is the story behind the naming:

Abol Ghassem Bakhtiar, M.D. was born in Borojen, Chahar Mahal Bakhtiari, in 1872. After studying English he went to America and became first Iranian to qualify as a physician in the United States and go back to Iran. He set up a private hospital in Tehran. Later he became Chief Surgeon for the AIOC in Masjid-i Sulayman, then he moved to Abadan where he had his private practice until he died in 1971. He had seventeen children from two wives, an American, Helen, and an Iranian, Bibi Turon Zargham. When Abol Ghasem was near death, he said that he wanted to be buried in Tus where Ferdowsi, Iranian epic poet is buried because he had a dream that his earth would mix with the earth of Ferdowsi and a Rostam would be born to save Iran.

Helen Jeffreys Bakhtiar was a Public Health Nurse. She met Abol Ghassem in New York when he was doing his residency. They were married in 1927 and moved to Iran in 1931. She helped Abol Ghasem setting up private practice in Tehran at the same time that she had seven children. She left Iran in 1939 at the beginning of World War II. She and Abol Ghassem were divorced in 1946. In 1950 she was hired by President Harry S. Truman's Point Four program to work as a public health nurse in the villages of Iran. She often visited Chahar Mahal and the Bakhtiari tribal people. She taught them public health and saved the lives of many women and children. In 1959 she took the migration with the tribe and delivered babies as they rode over the 14,000 foot high mountains to grass in Masjid-i Sulaiman and the Lali plain. She was much loved by the Bakhtiari people. They named a mountain after her in Chahar Mahal. Helen died two years after Abol Ghassem. She wanted to be buried next to him even though they had been divorced for over thirty years. She is buried in Tus, Khorasan Province, because she wanted to be part of Abol Ghassem's dream.
(The above description about Bakhtiars is prepared for me by their daughter, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar which is much appreciated)

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Eskandar John Abdullahzadeh 12-Feb-2013 01:31
Dr Bakhtiar was our family docor in Abadan. My faher who was from the Bakhtiari tribe, had a great deal of affection and love for him. As children, with a slightest cold my father would take us to him in his surgery in Zand Avenue for consultation. Only today (11th February 2013) I came across this site. By shear chance, I told my youngest sister about my childhood story of numerous visits to Dr Bakhtia's surgery and she decided to do a google search, only to find this site for me to read. Now i have the full story and I am so glad that Laleh has made this happen. I would like to reflect more on my memories as a child patient of Dr Bakhtiar in the next few day and come back to post them here and hope you all woul be there to read them.
Ronny Van Eeckhoutte12-Dec-2010 20:56

Marwan Habib20-Jul-2010 20:43
That's a nice love story and the life of two great persons. Thank you for sharing, Ali.
Dwight Rankine26-May-2010 20:11
A very touching story, and tribute.
Sam Rua09-May-2010 12:55
Interesting. Thanks for sharing the information on the history, Ali. Well done.
NealyBob09-May-2010 11:09
A wonderful tribute to a deserving person~!V
laine09-May-2010 08:55
Thank you Ali & Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar for this wonderful history much to be learned!!
Nestor08-May-2010 19:20
Thaak you for this history lesson Ali, she has left a legacy behind she was extraodinary in every way.
Her wanting to be buried next to Abol really shows how she felt .
Vote for a great history lesson.
Ursula Armstrong08-May-2010 13:50
that is very interesting! We learn so much about your unique country trough your pictures. . Uschi (V)
Gus Rosenfeld08-May-2010 11:16
Great piece of history Ali. WELL worth the read! To honor such people is necessary for our own re-committing to the important efforts that make a life worth living. The stamina and conviction of these two people to rise above their own petty differences makes them seem like fantasy legends. The world has never needed such spirit any greater than we need it now. We don't need to create it, but only learn from those whom have gone before us in the light of the same. Thanks to you Ali, I have a bit more inspiration to lift my own wings. Extended thanks to Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar as well. g
Simon Chandler08-May-2010 06:37
Excellent pov and composition with the right mood for the tribute. v
Sam_C08-May-2010 05:51
Excellent shot, great tribute. Thanks for sharing this...BV!
BrigitteKrede08-May-2010 05:14
tres interessante histoire pour la memoire...v
Mani 08-May-2010 00:13
Thank you very much Ali for posting this tribute to my grandparents. We always heard their story growing up, and we were fascinated by it too! Now the rest of the world can learn about how inspirational they were...
Colin Storey07-May-2010 18:39
Fantastic tribute, thanks for the details. v
Michal Leszczynski07-May-2010 14:34
This is a very interesting story, Thank you for sharing. V.
Larry Peterson07-May-2010 14:12
Very interesting story, Ali. Thank you for sharing.
Laleh Bakhtiar 07-May-2010 11:18
Thank you for your beautiful photographs and sharing the story of Helen and Abol Ghassem.
Randy Adams07-May-2010 11:06
wow...nice tribute to two heroes...thanks for sharing Ali!
Patricia Kay07-May-2010 10:14
Such an interesting read Ali and a great shot...BV
Stephanie07-May-2010 08:18
Such an interesting story Ali! Thanks for sharing! :)
borisalex07-May-2010 08:15
What a great story of such outstanding people and what they did! Thanks for sharing and learning about your country! V.
Zaid Kurdi07-May-2010 06:35
Very interesting capture and place.....thanks for the informations ....V.
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