It was mentioned in an interview with Batoul Qayyumi:

We Bought Clothes for the Operating Room with the Money Gathered in Khorramshahr Liberation Ceremony

Interviewer and Compiler: Faezeh Sassanikhah
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad

2020-09-15


Note: During the eight years of sacred defense, when men were fighting with the enemy on the front lines, ladies gathered in houses, mosques, and cultural and religious centers to provide food, clothing, and other necessities for the warriors. Batoul  Qayyumi (known as Shabani), born in Qahroud, Kashan, is one of the ladies who, during the eight years of the sacred defense, has made many efforts and provided many ladies in Tehran province in providing the equipment needed by the warriors. The Iranian oral history website interviewed him and talked about those years.

■When did you start working for the Logistics and Support Unit of the war?

When the war started and the Iraqi planes attacked Mehrabad airport, I went to my daughter's school and saw that the principal and the teachers were crying. They said we had a war and we were miserable. I comforted them and said: "We should see what we can do." I came home and decided to turn my house into a headquarters to help the fronts. I was also a member of the Basij[1] at that time. I went to Malik Ashtar military station, which was almost at the end of Khavaran Street, to see what I could do. I asked the person in charge there: "What do you need?" he replied:" Jam, sugar, bread, and snacks that can be sent to the fronts."

We lived on Air Force St. I would walk from Abuzar Boulevard to the second bridge, which is very long and has about thirteen alleys, and I would stop in front of the neighbors' house and ask: "Do you have sugar?"

The ladies in that area knew me and helped me. If they did not know me, I would introduce myself to them through an intermediary. For example, if I had a friend in the alley who knew a lady, I would mention her name and say that lady knew me and people would help the front.

 

 

We made the jam at home. Public donations were so great that the porch of our yard and the living room was full of sugar; everywhere was white.

At one and two o'clock in the morning, we would break the sugar with the mother of martyr Karim Shahian - who died and God rest her - and after packing, we would put the bags in the cartoon. We made jam with extra sugar.

One day I went to the headquarters to see what we should do, they said that Bani Sadr (president) did not give weapons to the forces. We need a glass of soda and lemon juice and the like to make cocktails, and we were collecting glass so that our forces can use it to stand in front of the enemy. They said that you collect the glass for us but do not tell anyone what you want it for; therefore, I would walk from the boulevard to the second bridge and tell the ladies: "if you have glass in your house, bring it to my house." I was collecting the glasses and load them with food for lunch, and we used to wash them at home with five or six ladies and pack them in nylons, then a Nissan car or van came and took the glasses.

I had collected so much glass from one side to the other that I became known as the Glass Lady. One day when I was going to collect glass, a lady from Coca-Cola Street, who was a long way from our house, came to help us. When he saw our yard was messy and the dishes were next to the garden, he washed the dishes and told my children:" Tell your mother I came to help you for God's sake, but I had nothing to do, so I washed the dishes and the yard and left here." I was very embarrassed. I never saw him again to thank him.

■How many ladies came to your house?

About fifteen to twenty people.

■How long did the activity in your home last?

Our house was 150 meters and we could not do many activities. We worked there for two or three months, and then Basij and IRGC rented an apartment at the beginning of Peruzzi Street, they turned it into a headquarters and recommend us to work with them. We were there for a year until they said the landlord wanted us to vacate it and leave there.

■ How did you continue your activities?

One day, Haj Agha Qudusi, the Friday prayer Imam of mosque's Hazrat Ali (PBUH) in Meqdad Street, who was very active and registered in the mosque to send troops to the fronts, gave a speech in support of the Islamic Revolution and one of his sons was martyred during the war. His wife was cooperating with us, they told me: "There is a house on the second square of Meqdad Street. Let's go and see it. If it works for you, you can work there." I went and saw it. His living room was very large, about thirty to forty meters. I said: "His living room has enough space, but we need another room." They gave us another room. The landlord took the rug and we cleaned the room and used a carpet for its floor and started our activity. We were told to be here for three months to find a better place, but we were there for the whole eight years of the imposed war.

■Was it private property there?

Yes. The house was owned by a man named Abbas Moharrar. Mr. Mohrar was a good doer and even did activities against the King[2] before the revolution.

■ Did the place where you worked to have a specific name?

Yes, its name was initially Zeinabia, but then one of the ladies had a dream that they changed its name to the center of Hazrat Zahra (PBUH).

What activities did you do there?

We did different activities such as sewing and weaving clothes, making jams, and sanitary pads.

We once made salad Olivier send to the war front with cars equipped by the refrigerator. They thanked us from the army and corps headquarters in a letter. We used to make apple and Quince jam and were more durability ones and send them to the front.

Mr. Moharer would bring a ton of nuts from the market, and we used to break the pistachios and almonds, peel the figs, and clean the raisins. We did not eat one of them and believed that these belong to the fighters and our hand is a trust. His wife, Ms. Batoul Moharer also helped us.

On different occasions, we made pottage in the large yard of the center. Every day during Ramadan[3], I used to make pottage in the summer as we kept fast. Or we would cook pottage on the 22nd of Bahman[4] and sell it in Azadi Square. We sold the dishes, and people bought them at a higher price than usual, and we spent the money on the front. We used to spend fifty tomans[5] to make pottage, but we would sell it for a thousand or two thousand tomans.

■What things did you buy with the money?

With that money, we bought three Nissan ambulances for the front.

■How many ladies worked with the center?

Between fifty and a hundred people working with us. Of course, the ladies cooperated with us in two ways; some came to the center and others worked in the houses. From the end of Abu Dharr Boulevard to the second bridge of the Air Force was under my supervision and we were planning what the ladies would do.

How was this collaboration?

There was no room for everyone in the center and everyone could not come there. On the other hand, some of the ladies could not come to work in the center due to their circumstances, but they announced their readiness to do something if they could do it. Fabrics were brought from the hospital to sew clothes for the fighters, or yarn was brought to us for free from the factory to weave clothes, jackets, and hats for the fighters stationed in Kurdistan and cold regions. We distributed the yarn in the houses and three days later I received the sweater, blouse, hat, etc. Once one of the ladies was weaving a very stylish blouse. I said to her: "Warriors just want to warm up. It's better to be simple." She replied: "What's wrong with fighters and commanders wearing stylish clothes?"

To sew clothes, the fabric was cut by ladies who knew how to sew, and we gave fabrics to housewives to sew in the houses. One of the ladies did not have a sewing machine; she sewed the clothes by hand. Once during the holy month of Ramadan, a rocket fell on a cloth warehouse near the shrine of Hazrat Abdolazim. A man came to our center and said: "The firefighters came to the warehouse and used the powder and materials to turn off the fire; therefore, the fabrics are damp and covered with moldy." I said: "What can we do about them?" He replied: Bring them here. We will take whatever can be used so that the fabrics are not wasted." They brought the fabrics. Because of the mold and damp, they smelled bad as everyone hated it a lot. Another lady and I closed our mouths, as we kept fast, and went inside the fabrics. We cut large, healthy pieces of fabrics for sheets, smaller pieces for pillows, and very small and healthy pieces for napkins.

A few days later, the man came and when he saw our work, he said: "You have to get an award. I replied to him: "God gives us the reward."

 

 

Another of my memories goes back to the liberation of Khorramshahr. Some times after the liberation of Khorramshahr, one of the commanders came and said:"We captured 30,000 Iraqis without underwear. Can you sew underwear for them if we bring fabrics?" I replied: "I cannot tell the mother and wife of the martyrs that we are sewing these clothes for the Iraqis. If I say them they won't accept to sew and will say the Iraqi is our enemy and why should we sew clothes for him?! So, I say these clothes are for the front."  He replied: "Your mind works better. I did not tell lie, I just said these clothes are for the front. They brought us a truck of fabrics and we delivered the underwear to them three days later.

■ How do you make sanitary pads?

Another of our tasks was to make bands called sanitary pads. To make the pads, we had to wash our hands with soap and water and spread a sheet on the floor and our feet before starting work. I was very sensitive to neatness. We were told that Lee's clothing was useful to absorb blood. I would pick up Lee's pants and unbutton them, for example, cut them 20 by 20 inches, used antiseptic liquid in the pool to wash them, and boil them again with water to kill the microbes, then dry in the sun and iron them. We put a bandage under it and put a cotton gauze bandage on it. It had handles and we tied it. I had washed so much less cloth that my hands were bleeding. It did not know to buy gloves so that the antiseptic liquid would not hurt my hand.

What was the age of the ladies who worked with you?

I was born in 1957. I was very young when the war started. Many ladies were my age and most were older than me. Some say that men played a role in the war and ladies did not. If ladies did not play a role in the war, the war would not have progressed. Some ladies sent their husbands and sons to the front and worked behind the front.

Martyr Sharabaf's wife and Ms. Rezaei, who was the wife and mother of three martyrs, cooperated with us. Some returned to the center a week after their son's martyrdom and resumed their activities. Martyr Shahsafi's mother, Martyr Babaei's mother cooperated with us. An elderly lady named Tahmasb sewed and brought long headdresses for the members of the center. Some of the ladies whose hairs were a little out of a scarf, she said to them:" You are working for the front and the brothers are fighting against infidelity on the front."

■Did you increase money to help the front?

Yes. In June 1982, when our forces conquered Khorramshahr, people were distributing chocolates and sweets with joy. I had a green bag and took it with me. I would go to the front of the houses and say: "if You want to buy chocolates and sweets for the liberation of Khorramshahr. It is better to give money to buy clothes for operating rooms because they need clothes for the operating room. We received their money and, finally, gathered a lot of money at that time. Some of the ladies gave us their gold, and with that money, we bought cloth for the operating room and sewed clothes.

■ Were all the activities related to the front done in the center?

No. I remember once a number of us, ladies, were taken to a place on Khavaran Street to separate a set of items that were donated by Tehran school students. The donations were so great that, on the one hand, we were excited and on the other, we were wonder what to do and how to separate all these goods. This went on for several days and we were really tired. Heavy bags that man could not lift, I lifted alone. I lifted so much weight in those years that I had surgery on my back at the age of thirty.

Another of our activities was working with the University of Science and Technology. A large number of special ampoules were imported from one of the countries to deal with chemical gas on the front. We went there and tied all the ampoules with reels of cotton so that they would not break when the fighters put them in the backpack. In addition to packing the ampoules, we made sanitary pads as they wanted. Once we went there we saw several students on strike for a cause. I went ahead and told them:" The youth are being martyred on the front. You stand on their blood!" The students left the group one by one without saying a word. A university official said to me: "What did you tell them to left here? We could not calm them down!"

■ The hypocrites were very active in the cities at that time. Did you encounter with them?

Once, ladies were making jam in the center. I saw a lady who was very well dressed and veiled, said: "You are making all this jam, but the fighters play football with it on the front!" I replied: "They should play football with jam than the Iraqis to say that the Iranians do not have something to eat. This is not the budget of the IRGC, it is the budget of the people. I take money from the people and spend it on the front." The lady who was in charge of the center said to me, "Do you know who she was? He was the Basij Station's commander. Why did you talk to him like this?" I said to her: "no matter who she was, she spoke badly, and I just answered him."

After two or three months, the Basij Station’s manager came and said, "How did you know that lady was not a good person?!" I said: "I did not know!" She said: "You answered her well, she was a hypocrite. Her husband worked on the front and she worked here as a commander!"

■ What time did you start your work in the center and end it?

I was at the center from seven to noon. Then I used to go home and take care of the children and give them lunch and then I would go back to the center and we would be there until seven and a half o'clock at night. I had two children then. There were four families in our house. We had four families living in one house with four rooms and we were relative with each other. My children would open the door for them when they came home from school.

■How many days a week did you go there?

Except on Fridays, I went to the center every day. On Fridays, I was in Friday prayers. Apart from going to the center, we sometimes went by bus to visit the wounded in hospitals after the prayers. We used to buy vegetables, clean them for the wounded who were hospitalized in Fajr Hospital. Suddenly, when we went to visit the wounded at Fajr Hospital, we were told sadly that the Iraqis wounded had been brought here. They were hospitalized in another section, with a guard standing in front of their room. We went to visit them. One Iraqi wounded man told me: "I need sugar".  I said to him:" There is no sugar." There was no sugar at that time and we were under sanctions and we sometimes spent a month without enough food.

I have a funny memory of those visiting. Once, when we went to visit the wounded, one of my friends told us: "You are illiterate, but I have a diploma. I will go ahead and speak with the wounded." He went ahead and said to one of the wounded: "Which front did you become a martyr?!" Everyone laughed and said that talking does not require literacy.

Did your spouse have a problem with this amount of your activity?

I managed my daily schedule. I rested less to do all works. I was preparing dinner at night so that when Haj Agha would come home at night not think that I would enough time to do my home works. I did not have a washing machine and I washed clothes by hand and also swept by hand. At that time, It was not like you eat fish one day and chicken one day. We used to make most simple dishes like lentils, and tomato, etc.

■ Did you have any cultural or incentive programs for the ladies who worked with you?

All the ladies worked without receiving money and only for the sake of God. We had limited budgets. Sometimes the ladies were encouraged once every six months, for example, on the birthday of Imam al-Zaman (PBUH) or various occasions by donating scarves, socks, and so on. Sometimes the army gave gifts to the ladies. For example, a lady who did not have a sewing machine and sewed clothes by hand was given a sewing machine as a gift, but it was not the case that ladies paid attention to these things; they work only for the pleasure of God.

■ How long did your activity last?

I worked in the center until the end of the war. Only for a while in 1984, when God gave me another daughter, my activity decreased. At that time, they said you should have children. I even cleaned vegetables for the wounded until one day before childbirth. When my daughter grew a little more, I resumed my work and helped with support affairs until the end of the war.

■Thank you for taking the time to the Iranian Oral History Website

Thank you, too.

 


[1] Volunteer forces

[2] It means Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last Shah of Iran 

[3] It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community.

[4] It is the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which is the 11th month in the Iranian calendar, equivalent to 11 February in the Gregorian calendar.

[5] Iranian currency.

 



 
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