BURLINGAME (KPIX 5) – This week's Jefferson Award Winner is a Peninsula woman helping to make a difference in the battle against extreme poverty in the Bay Area and around the globe.
Real estate asset manager Delfarib Fanaie gets ready for her volunteers to pack hundreds of holiday food boxes for low-income families.
Fanaie fulfills a promise made in 2006. While in her native Iran with her husband, adopting their oldest daughter, another 11-year-old girl begged to leave the orphanage with them.
"'I'll make you a good daughter. Please take me with you.'" Fanaie remembers the girl pleading. "I told her I cannot take her as much as I loved to, I cannot take her with me."
"I told her,
I promise you I would not let you or the children like you be forgotten," Fanaie said.
Fanaie kept that promise two years later: she and her friends founded Moms Against Poverty. The Burlingame-based nonprofit provides education, health, and orphan care - plus basic needs - like food, water, and hygiene products.
Moms Against Poverty has served more than two million people mostly poor children in 16 countries.
The group has built more than 60 schools and supported more than 30 orphan care centers.
"I feel like we are one big family, and that's a human family," Fanaie said.
MAP's food baskets have gone to children from Cambodia to more than 27,000 Afghans at the Iran border who've fled the Taliban.
Dr. Ashkan Taghipour heads a nonprofit in Iran, Nikgaman Jamshid Charity, that has worked with MAP to build schools and feed thousands.
"She is one of the greatest advocates of children in need that I have seen," Taghipour said.
In the Bay Area, Moms Against Poverty partners with three dozen school districts, churches, and community groups to serve hundreds of thousands of people.
The Castro Valley Unified School District receives boxes of fresh, organic food to feed up to 40 families twice a month during the school year, and 500 families in the summer.
"It's just an amazing gift," said Mrs. Nancy Nodal, Parent Community Liaison. "Our students will not go hungry, knowing that they won't have to go to the supermarket and have to decide whether to buy meat, versus shampoo."
School superintendent Parvin Ahmadi said Fanaie even provides free refrigerators so the district can store the food.
"This is a labor of love for her," Ahmadi said of Fanaie. "She cares so deeply about people, all people, especially people who are underserved and marginalized."
MAP is funded by grants, corporations and individuals.
Fanaie co-founded another nonprofit, called Shop at MAP.
Artists from around the world, mostly women, sell their jewelry and art. The proceeds help them feed their families and help fund Moms Against Poverty.
Fanaie said, "We bring hope and hope is all we have in the world right now."
For serving millions of people around the world through Moms Against Poverty, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Delfarib Fanaie.
for more features.