NIFA Surgical e-News, November 21, 2014
Profile: Jazmin Kazravan
“I do anything and wear many hats to provide for my children worldwide.”
Jazmin Kazravan, RN, BSN, RNFA, MBA, a 2008 graduate of NIFA’s RNFA program, has an exceptional story–and enough energy for three people.
Living in Miami, FL, she is President and CEO of Aria Surgery Center and Woman Health Care Center. She also works as a part-time circulating OR nurse in the University of Miami Hospital’s Department of Surgery.
She has invented several pieces of surgical equipment and has received a patent on one of them so far.
She’s also an enthusiastic business person, working part-time as a Realtor and broker, with licenses in Florida, Georgia and the Dominican Republic.
But her real passion is working with orphans. In 1986 she founded a charity, Orphans World Wide, Inc. (note: the URL is orphansglobal.org), that helps orphans in many different countries in different ways. From 1986 to 2014, Jazmin, her younger sister Dr. Samira Khazravan, her brother Sam Kazran, and the rest of her family were the sole supporters of the charity. Now, for the first time, the charity is reaching out to the public for donations and volunteers to help keep the work going.
The following is our interview with Jazmin:
Where did you obtain your nursing degree?
I earned a Bachelor of Nursing degree and also an executive MBA degree from Florida International University.
Why did you decide to become an RNFA?
I attended the NIFA program so I could first assist on surgical cases scheduled for my foundation.
What first inspired you to work with orphans?
I was born in Iran. When I was 15 or 16 years old, the Iran-Iraq War was going on. We used to have 30-40 bombs and rockets going off in our city every day. Walking home from school, we would hear the sirens go off, giving us 30 seconds to run and hide. I am very lucky to be alive. After the bombs, we would see limbs, hands, feet—sometimes children’s—lying in the street.
Thousands of children became orphaned and homeless. My sister Samira and I started finding orphaned kids in the street and bringing them home. I am very grateful I came from a wealthy family and my parents were in a position to help these orphans. My father had several properties and was able to evacuate one of the homes to serve as a home for these children. We brought home 120 or 130 kids and a few adults (some of the children had one living parent); my aunt and another woman were full-time chefs. I was so passionate about these children that I made clothes for them from bed sheets—you couldn’t purchase fabric or much of anything else at the time—and also knitted clothes for them. We lived in the basement for 8 years during the war, and so did all those wounded, hungry, injured kids.
How did Orphans World Wide develop after you left Iran?
I started branching out to other countries. My father was a diplomat, so for many years our family lived in a different country every year. With support from the embassy and my father, at one time my foundation was helping orphans at established orphanages in 47 different countries.
As for the orphanage my sister and I had founded in our home city of Shiraz, my father donated that property to me and I maintained it as an orphanage until I left the country in 1990, along with other family members. During the revolution, my father was arrested and the majority of his property, including that building, was confiscated by the city. The orphanage is still in operation, but when I went to visit in February 2014, they would not allow me to see the children, even when I told them I had founded the orphanage! That was very disappointing; I had brought hundreds of pounds of clothing and supplies with me, but since I wasn’t allowed to see the children there and couldn’t verify that the donations would actually get to them, I ended up giving the donations to another orphanage in the same town—one where all the children are handicapped.
After I moved to the U.S., I registered my foundation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the government, but until now I never did any fundraising. For most of that time, our brother, Sam Kazran, lent extensive financial support to the foundation. He funded thousands of orphans and indigent children in Africa (Zimbabwe, Kenya and Congo) by building schools and providing clothing, food and drinking water and school supplies for the children. Sam extended his support on a monthly basis until the financial crisis, when his business suffered huge losses and he was no longer able to help support us.
I was hoping, with the Grace of God, I would be able to continue to fund it myself, but I have had to cut back on the scope of my work with orphans. The vast majority of my income directly goes to my foundation and is spent on children.
With the money I make as a Realtor doing business in the Dominican Republic I am able to help support about 1200 kids who live in existing orphanages in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Tell us about your current medical work.
I am sole owner of two separate medical practices, Aria Surgery Center, which specializes in cosmetic surgery, and Woman Health Care Center, which handles women’s services, including GYN (but no OB). Although these jobs keep me busy and provide decent income, I have never left my hospital job so I can always stay updated with new technology.
What about your inventions?
I am grateful that, after many years of waiting, the United States Patent Office just issued me a patent for a device I invented, an Integrated Surgical Refuse Container and Mayo Stand Cover, patent #8,707,961. I have two other surgical inventions that I hope to get patents for. I am hoping the manufacture and sale of these devices will bring me more financial freedom so I can support more orphans. I do anything and wear many hats to provide for my children worldwide.
Do you have any natural-born children?
I have one natural-born child, Omid, who was born and raised in America and is now studying in Australia. And then there are the over 5,000 orphans I have helped. I think of them as my children.
Do you do medical missions?
Yes, a lot of my kids in orphanages need medical support and care. I do what I can by finding nurses and physicians in their country and sending money so they can help the orphans. I have also recruited surgeons in the U.S. and flown them in to conduct surgical missions in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and the Philippines.
But we also take trips that are not medical missions; we deliver food, clothing, equipment for water filtration systems, educational supplies, medical supplies like wheelchairs, and toys. Often my family members and other volunteers accompany me; sometimes we take a few high school students and a parent to talk to the kids.
In 2013 we did a Christmas mission to the Dominican Republic, delivering 600 lbs. of gifts and supplies. I had nurses from New York, Miami and San Francisco come with me to visit the children. A lot of these children are not being seen by doctors and nurses in their own country, so the nurses monitored the children’s health conditions.
This December we are bringing about 1100 orphans to a resort in the Dominican Republic; I am taking some employees and volunteers down with me and we will present these children with gifts of clothing, supplies and toys.
Until now I have always paid the travel expenses for all my volunteers. I can’t do it anymore, and that’s why I’ve started fundraising.
How will you be fundraising?
We’re doing our first-ever fundraising event on Saturday, December 20, in Miami. It will be a masquerade ball at a beautiful private home on the shore of Biscayne Bay; minimum donation is $35. We’ll use those funds to buy Christmas gifts for the 1100 children we’re visiting in the Dominican Republic.
If any readers are in the area and would like to attend, they can contact me at [email protected] to purchase tickets. I also need volunteers for the event. I already have a volunteer bartender and DJ, but I am looking for more volunteers to help with setup.
What else can our readers do to help?
They can make a financial donation at our website, www.orphansglobal.org. A link to the donate page is located at the bottom of every page on the site.
I always welcome volunteers to travel with me, and now am also seeking help with fundraising efforts. Just fill out the contact form on my website and tell us how you can help, and we’ll contact you.
Our mission has always focused on achieving one goal: “Changing the world one life at a time,” for all orphans and for the children of poor, distressed and disabled parents who are unable to support and maintain their children. We contribute as we can to the basics of life, from love of a parent to daily nutritional needs, to health and hygiene and play and education.