No Room for Retirement

Abidollah Sekhavat, known as Ishan, is a 60-year-old Iranian Sunni-Muslim racehorse trainer. He was born in Bandar-e-Torkman, a city in the Central District of Torkman County, Golestan Province, located in the north of Iran, 556km (345 miles) northeast of Tehran. Abidollah started riding horses when he was 12. After leaving his main job as a carpenter 25 years ago, he continued working as a horse trainer. He lives in a small horse trailer at the Gonbad horse riding complex, which is also his workplace. He meets his family once a month. His income depends on how many horses he trains. As he told me, he earns about $17 USD per month for each horse. However, most of his income comes from the awards a horse he trained wins at the racecourse. The day I took his picture, he only had one horse. The horse needed rest, so it couldn't participate in the race, and so, no race means no money. He also has a son who works alongside him as a horse trainer assistant. He wishes that one day he can spend more time with his family and care for his elderly mother. However, with this income, this wish seems far-fetched and unattainable. Abidollah told me, "I hope my son can make a better life and future for himself in a right and honorable way, not through unhealthy ways like betting and gambling, where many people get a lot of money. That money is forbidden and takes away the blessing from human life.” Why are you still working? While I love horses and working with them, the harsh reality is that passion doesn't pay the bills. I yearn for retirement, even if it means a lower income. However, at 60, I have nothing: no insurance, no saved money, and no clear path forward as a security blanket for my future. I'm tired of working in all kinds of weather, but I have to keep going to cover my own expenses and those of my family. Actually, I should have retired last year, but I am still working, and it may be that I'll need to work another 10 or 20 years. Retirement is a distant dream when you have nothing saved. I do not think about retirement, because I have to continue working until I die or see what God's will is for me.

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