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Betty Mahmoody


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.

Betty Mahmoody's second book, For the Love of a Child, answers many questions presented by readers from the first book, and presents the issue of terrorism to children by their trusted parents, proving that international parental child abduction is a global problem. It educates and raises awareness, thus helping to prevent abductions.
Both books have been translated into over 70 languages and have been worldwide bestsellers. Mahmoody was voted Author of the Year by the people of the Netherlands; received the Gold Key to the City of Paris Award; Child Abuse Prevention Services Award; America's Freedom Award; Outstanding Woman of the Year by Oakland University and as the Most Courageous Woman of the Year and Woman of the Year in Germany. She also received an honorary degree from her Michigan alma mater, Alma College.

For several years Betty Mahmoody has been pleasing crowds worldwide while sharing her life-changing experiences with them. Now, Not Without My Daughter has become a dynamic, inspirational mother--daughter speaking team. Audiences worldwide have always had the same first question from Betty. "How is Mahtob?" Now mother and daughter traveling together, can give the audience information to answer that question for themselves.
Everyone has a story. No one is immune from life's challenges. But why is it that when faced with these challenges, some not only survive but actually thrive, while others crumble? What is it that distinguishes survivors from victims?

Being held hostage in a war-torn country by an abusive husband and father is just one of the many challenges faced by the team. After the escape they had to learn how to cope with what they had endured, how to balance ongoing security fears with the freedom they held so dear , and how to forgive. More than twenty years have passed since the escape from Iran, and like everyone, the two have continued to come up against new obstacles. At the age of thirteen, Mahtob was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus and shortly after her 21st birthday their worst fear was realized - her dad found her.

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."