Guest post by Heidi Hudson, Red Cross blogger in British Columbia

When her sister was jailed in Iran, a British Columbia woman worried it would be years before she heard from her again.

In 2011, foreign relatives weren’t allowed to communicate with Iranian prisoners and Nasrin felt desperate every day, wondering how her sister, Nooshin, was managing after her arrest for involvement with the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education in Iran.

“I found out she was in jail and worried about what was happening to her...I lost hope that I would contact her again,” Nasrin remembers.

But a year later, she was thrilled to discover the Restoring Family Links program run by Canadian Red Cross would be able to help deliver mail to Nooshin in jail.

Nooshin vividly remembers the day her sister’s letter arrived. “I was called to the security office and I didn’t know why. When the officer gave me the letter and asked me to sign for it, I was really surprised. I couldn’t believe it. It was a really happy time for me,” she recalled. “I remember I couldn’t make a signature because my hands were trembling.”

Sisters Nooshin and Nasrin reunited in British Columbia

Nooshin, left, and sister Nasrin, right.

The sisters are very close and spoke daily before the arrest. Nooshin says one of the worst things about jail was not talking with Nasrin.

“I’m not one to cry a lot but I cried a little because I missed my family so much,” said Nooshin.
Her life changed dramatically early one morning in May 2011. She was getting ready for work when she opened her door to two officers, who promptly arrested her. Three months later, an Iranian judge sentenced her to four years in jail.

Eventually, Nooshin was allowed to speak with her father and niece living in Iran, but until recently, policy there prevented contact with family living outside the country.

When Nooshin finally read her sister’s letter, it took on a life of its own, she said. “It was so long since I had seen her handwriting. It was like a picture of my sister and I looked at it whenever I missed her.”
Nasrin said: “It felt like... we were speaking to each other. It brought me hope.”

Nooshin has since been released from jail and recently moved to Canada to live with her sister.