In August of 1984, Michigan housewife Betty Mahmoody went to Iran with her husband and four year old daughter Mahtob Mahmoody, on a two-week trip to visit his family in Tehran. However, once the two weeks were over, he refused to allow them to leave. Betty Mahmoody and her daughter became virtual prisoners of a man who had rededicated himself to the Shiite Islamic faith. Thus began an 18-month tour of terror in which Betty Mahmoody lived in fear of her husband and secretly plotted her escape to freedom.
Trapped in an openly hostile and alien culture, Betty Mahmoody had the odds stacked against her – first as a woman in a land where women have no rights and as an American at a time when Americans were despised. Her story and daring 500-mile escape across the mountains on horseback and on foot into Turkey are chronicled in her Pulitzer Prize nominated, best selling book, “Not Without My Daughter”. It is a compelling adventure and gripping account of an ordinary woman’s extraordinary courage.
Since returning from Iran in 1986, Betty Mahmoody has devoted her life to helping hundreds of others in similar situations. She is the President and co-founder of One World: For Children, an organization designed to promote understanding between cultures and to offer security and protection to children of bi-cultural marriages. She was also chief instigator for legislation passed in Michigan relating to international kidnapping and worked on a Federal Bill, which was signed into law by President Clinton regarding the same issue.
Betty Mahmoody’s awe-inspiring story of fortitude during her two years in Iran is one of hope, courage, resourcefulness and action. She lectures around the world and has appeared on numerous television talk shows – including 20/20 with Barbara Walters, Larry King, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil, among countless other national and international TV and radio shows. Her story, Not Without My Daughter, has been adapted to a feature film starring Academy Award winning actress, Sally Field.
All too often, we fall into the trap of thinking that our stories consist only of challenges we face, the tragedies we endure. So often in life, we have no control over the obstacles we face, but we always have a choice in how we react to those obstacles. Each new challenge brings along with it a new lesson, a new opportunity, a new blessing. It’s easy to focus our attention on what’s going wrong. When we do, we rob ourselves of the joy that is all around us. We each have the power to choose how we measure our lives. Mahtob Mahmoody says, “I choose to measure my life not by its challenges, but rather, by the happiness I collect along the way.