Ordinary people are setting up spontaneous outdoor charity drives across Iran in a bid to help the homeless and poor tackle the harsh winter weather and ongoing economic crisis.
In one of the most simple and brilliant campaigns, random “walls of kindness” are popping up in major cities. People leave warm clothes and other accessories for those without a home or shelter this winter.
The concept is rather simple. People install a few hooks and hangers on a colored wall anywhere in the city alongside the words: “If you don't need it, leave it. If you need it, take it.”
As the BBC reports, the first wall of kindness appeared in the city of Mashhad earlier this month with a few hangers and hooks that were soon filled with numerous donated clothing items. Apparently, the man who set up the first wall — and who wishes to stay anonymous — was inspired by similar acts of kindness across the world.
“I've told [people] to bring clothes in small quantities so that those who come here know that clothes are always available,” he told local newspaper Hamshahri, adding that he was happy the idea had taken off. “I saw one person hanging two sets of almost new suits [on the wall]. He had brought them from the dry cleaner.”
The innovative idea soon gained traction on social media and thanks in part to the thousands of tweets and Instagram photos, similar walls soon began springing in other cities — including Shiraz and Sirjan.
Official figures state that there are 15,000 homeless people in Iran’s capital city of Tehran, though the actual number is estimated to be much higher. With temperature plummeting down to freezing levels, the need for warm coats and clothes is higher than ever.
“This is a great initiative. Hope it spreads across Iran,” one Facebook user commented, while the other said, "Walls remind us of distance but in some streets in Shiraz they brought people closer to each other.”
This is the first socially driven drive to help Iran's poor. The “wall of kindness” is not much different from another citizen-driven project where people left fridges on city streets, asking others to leave food for the homeless.
However, along with commending the brilliant initiative, social media users are also highlighting the lack of action from their government on the issue of homelessness.
“People are helping each other out in a country with so much wealth. Those in charge seem not to share similar concerns as that of the people,” wrote a Facebook user, as another complained: “If only we had wise and caring statesmen, we would not have a single needy person in this country with this amount wealth we have.”
Iran’s worsening economic situation has affected large swaths of its people. Despite President Hassan Rouhani’s pledges and vows, the country is still struggling with the effects of international sanctions and recession.