I was born and raised in Iran. I completed my Batchelor degree in Iran in 1990 and joined the workforce in 1991, initially as a software programmer but a year later I joined a team setting up the ATM network for banks in Iran. Eventually I moved to Dubai, via London, before moving to Australia in 2002.
Before I immigrated to Australia I was exceptionally busy with work but once I was settled in Australia I had a bit more time so decided to establish a charity. In 2003 I established an organisation dedicated to children called Tabatabaee Charity Foundation for Children, which has a focus on health and education. It’s a charity in Iran, being managed by a team mainly from my family, along with many others. The management team are highly educated, such as my uncle, and they are almost all volunteers. It has grown very well over the past 10 years and it is now one of the top 10 charities in Iran.
I was inspired to set up the charity during the first year that I was living in Dubai. My twins sons unfortunately had asthma. (Their asthma was one of the reasons I wanted to leave Dubai; I thought the weather there contributed to the problem.) At least once a year during our time in Dubai we would travel to Iran. One night during Eid holiday, one of my sons had an asthma attack. I took him to the best hospital of the small city we were in, in Iran. I noticed the equipment and resources there were insufficient to treat the patients. And that was a children’s hospital! I told the doctor there ‘if you can’t do anything about my son I will take him home first thing to Dubai.’ I was wealthy so that was an option for me. But what about the other people whose children needed that hospital but who didn’t have the same option available to them. At that time I cried about what I was seeing. That was the trigger for me – to address those issues. Why? Children are the future. If they cannot have a good education and good health, then we have no future. In the future I would like to go back to Iran and dedicate the rest of my life to that charity organisation.
Shortly after I settled in Perth I realised that there was no group there for Iranian people, particularly new arrivals. When I arrived in Perth I didn’t have any problems, but I had money and friends. That said, I didn’t know anyone from my country, or who spoke my language. It is really hard when people first move country. If they can be with people from their own country it speeds up the process of feeling settled. For this reason I decided to set up a community organisation for Iranians, Iranian Association Inc. starting with a website, dedicated to Iranians of Australia in 2003.
Edit: Essy, a close friend of Morteza, assisted Morteza’s session by asking some excellently rehearsed questions!