Over 25 years ago, Mahru Ghashghaei was managing five hospitals and 500 students in her home country of Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. While her country was entering a state of fear and disarray, Mahru utilized her degree in nursing by combining her knowledge of medicine with counseling and social work to give people a safe outlet to express themselves and escape the horrors of the war.
While she has a background in nursing and counseling, she has added the title of author to her list of accomplishments.
Published in 2011, Nine Rubies chronicles the memories and life changing events Mahru and her family lived through in war stricken Iran. In a country where women have virtually no rights, Mahru’s mother fought for her three daughters to receive an education and tried her best to protect them from falling into a life controlled by men. Without giving too much of the book away, Nine Rubies is an incredible story of survival and hope, something Mahru herself represents today.
Now a resident of Hoboken, Mahru still spends her time counseling people in Iran via Oovoo, an online video chat tool that enables her to connect with people across the globe as they continue to struggle with government and social change.
Mahru came to the states for the first time over 32 years ago when her husband was offered a scholarship to continue studying engineering in Boston. While their planned stay only ended up lasting about six months due to troubles in Iran, Mahru and her husband moved to Connecticut a few years later with their three sons. Connecticut quickly felt like home to Mahru, who identifies with nature, saying “the green in Connecticut immediately made me feel like I was back home in Iran, where everything is green and surrounded by trees and flowers”.
Once her sons all graduated from college, Mahru felt their home in Connecticut was too big for just her and her husband. They briefly moved back to Iran but found the country’s chaos to be too overwhelming. Wanting to be close to her sons, they moved into her youngest son’s apartment in Hoboken.
Always up for a challenge and used to proving people wrong, Mahru wasn’t concerned about the age gap between her and most of Hoboken’s residents. Even though many people told her Hoboken was a young city and questioned how she would fit in, Mahru says, “The families here are all young, and it’s given me energy. I like living with young people and I love seeing all the babies”.
While she’s still adjusting to life in the Mile Square and sometimes misses having nature at her doorstep, Hoboken has given Mahru a sense of peace and stability. She gets her daily fix of Mother Nature by visiting the parks along the lively waterfront, which she sites as one of her favorite locations in Hoboken, and where she goes to “when I’m stressed or miss seeing flowers”.
Today she has a positive outlook on life and what’s in store for her future. With the publication of Nine Rubies last year, Mahru is still trying to get more people familiarized with her story, which she believes is “universal and makes you appreciate life and hard work. It shows that strength and your beliefs can save you.”
She thinks her book would make a great movie and be the perfect way to expose how difficult life is for women in Iran, while making people aware of how many places in the world are still struggling to accept equality for women.
Mahru says, “I always wished I could make a movie from my mom’s life; I would like to get the book made into a movie, but I haven’t met the right person yet who can help me with this”.
While Mahru is looking for the resources and connections that will help her achieve her goal of making a movie, she would also like to find more friends and activities to do in Hoboken. Even after years of learning how to survive in a dangerous and male-dominated Iran, Mahru is filled with generosity and kindness, which she hopes to channel into giving back to the community.
When asked how her experiences have shaped who she is today, Mahru responds, “I see myself as lucky because I’ve experienced many places and have two beautiful countries that are more similar than different. I’m very optimistic and think Hoboken has great energy and is a great place for me to continue growing as a person”.