Children of heaven is an Iranian film that deals with contemporary issues faced by Tehranian people. Though Iran is one of the largest exporters of oil and gas about 20% (15 million) people of the country is still living in poverty (Worldbank). Iran though a leader in oil production and exporting, is not able to provide its people with enough resources to lead a life of quality. Poverty is the greatest issue faced by its people. This is because the government of Iran fails to distribute the income from petroleum export among its people equally (Abrahamian). Iran lacks uniform zoning and this is prominent in Tehran. This has created great difference among people living in same areas and urbanization has created several issues in the country. Though Iran is considered as a country of middle income people it can be seen that there is two sects of people, the rich and poor. Poor are living in a slum environment and rich are using them for daily activities. This difference in living standard has also caused isolation and this is more among children. The film portrays the image of Tehran as a city of images, buildings and people that intensifies the stimulation than any other human settlement form (Macionis and Parrillo). This paper tries to portray poverty and related issues faced by people of Iran in general.
Poverty is the biggest issue faced by Tehranian people and this can be understood from the fact that parents of Ali and Zara are not able to pay their debts or buy a new pair of shoes for Zahra. Iran was the second largest exporter of crude oil in 2010 among Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Worldbank). Even under such condition it can be seen that people of Iran are facing great difference in their living standards. People are not supported by government under any condition and are to find their own source of living despite of their physical conditions. Most people are also not able to earn enough money from a single job and are forced to work for more time and find some extra sources of income. Poverty is so prevalent that even children are forced to work and earn some money to support their parents. Majority of Tehranians are poor and finds it hard to meet their ends while there exists few rich men also. People are forced to work for earning a living even if they are not in a condition to work and earn. The government is not able to provide subsidies or care for its people. This can be understood from the fact that garbage man is always on streets for earning a living despite the fact that he is blind.
Unequal distribution of wealth has brought two classes in society, the rich and the poor in urban areas. Poor live in sums while rich are leading a life of high quality. Even children from neighborhood do not know each other due to this great difference in life style (Worldbank). People of Tehran are not able to earn enough money from a single job to lead a comfortable life. This is why Ali’s father decides to earn some extra cash through gardening. Most rich people depend on their poor neighbors for daily activities. But it is to be noted that people of Iran are respect each other irrespective of living condition. They are ready to help each other and this is why Ali’s father is allowed to do gardening by their neighbor when he approaches. Iranians are always ready to help poor for it is recommended by religion. They don’t usually show any difference to poor and loves their neighbor irrespective of their economic condition.
Another biggest issue faced by Iran population due to urbanization and unequal distribution of wealth is child labor. It is due to poverty arising from irresponsible government that children are forced to work. Government of the country is not even concerned about child labor which is prohibited throughout the world. Children are not able to attend the school even if they and their parents wish for they are to find some income to support their parents to cater family needs. Many of them are not able to play and have spent most time working for supporting their family. Ali is working at a very young age to support his father and the grant child of his wealthy neighbor Even if children are good in their studies they find it very difficult to continue their education for their top priority is to earn some income and not to perform well in academics and continue with higher studies. Even those children who are really good in studies are not able to continue with higher education due to their poor economic condition (Stiftung).
Even under such poor and difficult situation Tehranian people never gives up moral values and teaches children to respect each other. Children never complain to their parents about anything or demand anything from them. They understand the situation and are trying not to hurt their parents. Despite their issues they are trying to help parents in family matters as much as they can (Stiftung). This can be understood when Ali and Zahra decides to share Ali’s shoes when Zahra loses her shoes. They love and care for the needs of each other even under very difficult living conditions. Children are also taught fundamental values upheld by Islam religion and hence they know how to respect others and develop an attitude of empathy and love. Children are very compassionate to their family and this is why they try to support their family by doing some job.
Though the social status of people is evidently different respect and empathy are there among every people irrespective of their living conditions (Abrahamian). Most of them who are wealthy understand the situation of their poor neighborhood and are very generous to them. There are several poor families depending on their wealthy neighbors for income by helping them in daily affairs and household jobs. Those who are rich also promote this as a help to their neighbors and at the same depends on them for completing their daily works. This show that rich is always ready to help poor by offering menial jobs (Abrahamian). This can be noticed when Ali and his father visit their rich neighbor in search of gardening job and from the generous behavior of their neighbor.
Along with poverty issues and human values Children of heaven depicts culture of Tehran. It shows that Iran is a country where men are considered as family leaders and they are supposed to support and provide for the family. They are to ensure that his family members are having shelter, food and clothing under every circumstance (Stiftung). This can be understood from the last scene of the film where Ali’s father carries two pairs of shoes. Boys are taught to remain responsible from very young age and the culture is passed on to them from young age itself (Abrahamian). Children understand the issues faced by their parents and are ready to sacrifice his wished for his family.
Film shows the life of majority people of Tehran. Poverty in Tehran is the biggest issue and this is mainly due to failure on part of government in distribution of income. Issues of urbanization like social isolation, income variation, slum environment, coping mechanism, family survival etc. effects children greatly. Government is also not doing anything to support people who are suffering from poverty issues, child labor, diseases or other physical disabilities and the country lacks uniform zoning. Despite all these social issues people of Iran give great importance to religious values and they care for others, respect them and are empathetic to each other and this is the basic culture of Tehran.
Abrahamian, Ervand Khomeinism. Essays on the Islamic Republic. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.
Macionis, John J. and Vincent N. Parrillo. Cities and Urban life. Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.
Stiftung, Bertelsmann. BTI 2012 — Iran Country Report. Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI). Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2012.
Worldbank. World Development Indicators 2012. Report. Washington: Word Bank, 2012.