“ I am emotionally engaged in the fact that vital medicines are becoming so rare and expensive. “
Kazem is a manager in a private hospital. He is dealing with challenges that didn’t exist before the sanctions. Shortages in surgical equipment and medicines are just a couple of examples of the ways sanctions have impacted the medical centers. As a hospital manager, Kazem has to take new strategies so it doesn’t impact almost six hundred employees of the hospital.
“I feel very sad. Because of my nationality, all my registrations get canceled. I would grow way more if there were no sanctions, even though I still do but with so much hard work.”
Elham is a fitness trainer who is very passionate about her job to improve every day. She persuasively works hard to save money to participate in international conferences and competitions. One of her dreams is to give presentations at renowned international events. It seems challenging for her to make her dreams come true after the start of the sanctions. With the devaluation of the currency in Iran and all the financial and political crises in Iran, she sees the doors closed to her. However, she doesn’t give up while the path to her dreams has got complicated, but it doesn’t mean reaching her goals is impossible.
“ In fact, the gift of sanctions for me is the beautiful dreams that are burnt and the hope for tomorrow ”
Alireza is a graduate in electrical engineering but picked his passion for carpentry as his career. He explains how his clients’ budget for woodwork has dropped since the wood price has tripled because of the sanctions. The Iranian currency has got devaluated and the price of imported wood has surged. The harmful impacts of sanctions on one hand and on the other hand importation monopoly in the wood industry are damaging the carpenter's business on a great scale. His main clients are coming from the middle socioeconomic class which is slowly fading after the economical crisis.
“ I have the feeling of a person trapped in a closed space. Everything has become routine and I have lost my motivation. ”
Alireza is an entrepreneur and an owner of one of the main factories in Iran. The factory is specialized in producing high voltage cables and wires. A large number of their production is exported to neighboring countries. There are just four such factories in Iran. With the highest technology, they have expanded the factory to five other factories. I ask him how sanctions have affected them as factory owners. As he mentions the sanctions haven’t financially affected them, but they have problems importing the raw materials and transferring money. So they have to go through bypasses which costs them a lot.
“ I have worked hard to reach my goals and I won’t let anything stop it. However, it has become so frustrating to sort out things financially"
Sharareh is doing her masters in English literature. She has planned to leave Iran for Canada to continue her studies for Ph.D. in English literature. For several years she has worked hard and saved money to make her living in Canada as a student, but now only after a few months left before her departure, she has to deal with a drastic devaluation of the Iranian currency.
“ Fear of running out of medicine is taking the control of my life. “
Naeimeh is a kidney transplant recipient. She has been under treatment for more than two years since she received the kidney. Since the US started imposing sanctions on Iranians, she has been experiencing new challenges and struggles with her treatment. With the enormous amount of stress and anxiety she has to go through due to the possibility of a new organ’s rejection, now she has to deal with the fear of shortening the medications. Transplant medications are very vital and rare to find. Because of the shortage of drugs, they are distributed by the governmental institutions beginning every month to cover one month of treatment. It means that she has to deal with a great amount of uncertainty if she can have her medications for the months after or not.
“Even though our sale has drastically dropped, still we can pass this stage of economic hardship. What is bothering me the most are those people."
Enayat is running a family business selling carpets with his dad and brother. His main customers were tourists who visit Iran or export outside of Iran. After the sanctions, the number of tourists has dropped drastically, exporting the goods have become a challenge, and money transfer requires bypassing sanctions which costs a lot.
“ For me, the future looks dark and unknown, every kind of planning for the future seems impossible. ”
Mehdi is an optometrist who owns an eyewear shop. When I asked him how sanctions have affected his business, I witnessed him full of disappointment. Even though he claims that sanctions haven’t financially impacted him since most of his customers are coming from rich families. All parts of glasses and sunglasses are imported, so Mehdi is confronting the increase in price as well as the obstacles to buying products.
“You go to your appointment to get your treatment and they tell you that they are out of some specific medicines, while your life or death still depends on those medicines. This is a tragic story no one wants to be the narrator of.”
Sepideh was diagnosed with MS eight years ago. With all her strength, she battled the disease. She continued her job, got promoted, and gave birth to two kids. After the sanctions, with the shortages of medicines, she has to even pull herself together more to keep the hope high for herself and her family. Some of her medicines are not imported to Iran anymore, some are replaced by other drugs that are very strong and difficult to adapt with. Others are too weak for her disease. As she believes people with chronic diseases are the ones who are impacted the most in such situations.
“ There is no light in near future. I rather change my job completely than do an artwork just for money.”
Mehrdad got his master's degree almost ten years ago in painting. After Iran’s nuclear deal there was a flood of tourists coming to Iran. So he rented an atelier in a touristic part to sell his artwork. There was much demand for his works until the sanctions started. He is having a hard time keeping his job. He is pushing himself to come to the atelier and work. He is thinking of putting painting aside completely and starting a new job to make money.
“ Now I can see more sunset, what I enjoy the most.”
Balal is a tour leader for more than ten years. He has a cafe on a hotel rooftop in one of the tourist cities of Iran. Before the sanctions, they were fully booked for high seasons six months ahead. While after the sanctions, there were fewer and fewer tourists until there is just very few tourists coming to Iran. He still goes to the cafe every day and spends his time watching the sunset.
“I established my own pharmacy with much hope and motivation, however right now I have to deal with depressing moments more than ever.”
Morteza is a pharmacist who started his pharmacy four years ago before the US sanctions are imposed on Iran. His business took a year to get recognized and then it started to grow very rapidly until the sanctions started to kick in the Iranian market. His business has been affected by the shortage of medicines on one hand and increasing the price of medicines and cosmetics on the other hand.
“ I work more, I sell more and there is more demand for my product in comparison to times before sanctions, but what we are missing are hope and a clear future.”
Hossein is one of the first people in Iran who started a coffee roasting factory. He created his own brand and is running a small coffee roasting factory. Sanctions have put so much demand for his products since the roasted coffees imported to Iran are either very overpriced or low in quality. However, he describes the situation he is in very frustrating. The raw coffee imported to Iran is low quality compared to past ones and the price is very high. None of the products can get inside Iran directly, but they bypass the sanctions through Emirates. All these processes add up to the price of raw materials being imported to Iran.
“ When situations get hard, we have to deal with not only our challenges but others too. ”
The price of red meat has tripled since the sanctions, while people’s budget has not increased. So they bring one-third of the amount of meat they would take home before. In Haaj’s butchery, he gives out meat to those who are in need, some bring the money back whenever they have it. That’s how he contributes to making things easier for people.
“ I can never think of having another child as long as I see myself unable to provide them with the best.”
Navid works in a taxi company and mostly travels between cities for tourists who hire him. With the sanctions there is less demand for taxis because, on one hand, the price of petrol has increased which caused the increase in fares, on the other hand, there are way fewer tourists in the country. As he says before sanctions he was doing very fine, making a good amount of money which he could even save some for leisure activities with his wife and his only daughter. However, at this moment they need to cut off some expenses.