Helen of Tus
by Laleh Bakhtiar and Bakhtiari Rose
A true tale — the odyssey of Helen Jeffreys — a 22-yr old adventurous American nurse who defied the norm, by marrying a 55-yr old Iranian doctor in 1927, New York. Despite her conservative Protestant upbringing in Idaho, Helen boldly moved to Iran in 1931. Incredibly, she helped open the first private hospital in Iran, as an anesthesiologist and mother of 7 children. Later Helen became a naval officer with President Truman's Point 4 program, traveling by jeep to remote villages of Iran, convincing the clergy of the need to educate women about healthcare and journeying with the legendary Bakhtiari tribe on their annual migration through 12,000 feet snow-capped mountains. Helen born an American, raised in Idaho, in-bred by the American "where there is a will-there is a way," sensed this paradigm as a calling. She applied her American values in the ancient culture of Iran, values of hard work, sacrifice, understanding, and identifying with other peoples sufferings. Helen died in 1973 and didn't live to witness the Iranian Revolution and what that would do to her two beloved homelands. Helen is buried in Tus, Iran near the tomb of the legendary Persian poet Ferdowsi.