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'Walls Of Kindness' Encourage Iranians To Give

The anonymous man who is behind the initiative says he hopes the day will come when no one will need to come to his wall for clothes.
The anonymous man who is behind the initiative says he hopes the day will come when no one will need to come to his wall for clothes.

Walls typically create divisions. But not always.

In Iran, activists are using them to bring people together and encourage them to give. They've installed coat hooks and signs in at least three cities asking people to leave unwanted clothing for those in need.

"If you need clothing, take according to your needs, and if you have clothing at home that you don't need, please hang it here," reads one of the signs.

Iranians are calling them "walls of kindness."

The man behind the initiative in Mashhad told the daily Hamshahri recently that he was inspired by similar acts of kindness in Iran and around the world.

"Be good, as God has been good to us," reads the sign on his wall.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, set up his charity wall on his own property in October, he told Hamshahri: "I saw a picture from Gilan [Province] where a place was designated for people to leave their extra clothes for whoever needed them. I also heard that in Tehran they've installed a fridge where people leave food [for the needy]."

He added that many people have welcomed the initiative.

"I saw one person hanging two sets of almost new suits [on the wall]; he had brought them from the dry cleaner," he said.

The Iranian economy has been in recession, or teetering on the brink, for several years. And while official unemployment figures are around 10 percent, the jobless rate among young people is estimated at more than 20 percent.

The Mashhad man said he's asked people on social media to keep giving: "I've told them to bring clothes in small quantities so that those who come here know that clothes are always available."

He hopes the day will come when no one will need to come to his wall for clothes, he added.

Social-networking sites and messaging applications, including the popular Telegram app, have reportedly played a key role in getting the word out about the "walls of kindness."

"A man came to me from a poor neighborhood in Mashhad -- he told me he had found the address on social media," said the Mashhad man.

Similar initiatives have reportedly been set up in other parts of the country, including in the southern city of Sirjan, where, also in October, a group of young people installed coat hooks and signs in two locations, asking people to give to the poor.

There is also a similar wall in Shiraz, according to social-media users who have shared pictures of it recently:

The sign on this wall says: "If you don't need it, leave it. If you need it, take it."

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    Golnaz Esfandiari

    Golnaz Esfandiari is managing editor of RFE/RL's Radio Farda, which breaks through government censorship to deliver accurate news and provide a platform for informed discussion and debate to audiences in Iran. She has reported from Afghanistan and Haiti and is one of the authors of The Farda Briefing newsletter. Her work has been cited by The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major publications. Born and raised in Tehran, she is fluent in Persian, French, English, and Czech.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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