Known as ‘Walls of Kindness,’ the installations are providing winter gear to those bracing against the cold.
Clothing racks with free winter wear for the homeless are spontaneously popping up all over Iran.
The installations are said to be the work of anonymous philanthropists who created them as a way of providing homeless people with winter garments and are encouraging others to lend their closets to the cause. They are known by the inscription beside a row of hooks adorned with warm clothes such as coats, trousers, and sweaters: “Wall of Kindness.” A message asks passersby to donate clothes while inviting the less fortunate to take garments as they need.
“This signifies compassion toward one another,” Mehrangiz Tavassoli, a resident of central Tehran, told The Associated Press. “In the past, I did not know what to do with donations. Now, those who need can take what they want.”
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Many of the walls are painted with vibrant colors, while others carry the colorful messages written in Farsi: “If you don’t need it, leave it. If you need it, take it.”
The project is popular on social media, where locals have been posting pictures of the walls using the hashtag #WallOfKindness. As weather conditions worsened over the month of December, residents started sharing more and more images of the racks of donated clothing to raise awareness that many Iranians lack shelter.
Government figures estimate there are 15,000 homeless people in Tehran alone, a third of them women. Reports say the number could be higher. The winters there are said to be “brutally” cold, and nearby mountains often send snowstorms into the region.
According to BBC News, the initiative is thought to have started in the northeastern city of Mashdad by a person who wishes to remain anonymous. The “Wall of Kindness” originator installed a few hooks on a wall with the give-it-or-take-it inscriptions, and people started donating winter clothing. A similar installation then appeared in the southern city of Shiraz, and from there the idea took off in other cities around the country. Walls of Kindness now exist in at least two other cities in Iran, Sirjan and Ilam, though the trend has yet to spread beyond the borders of the Islamic republic.
“The Wall of Kindness is a beautiful gesture,” said Saghar Maliani, another resident of central Tehran. “It keeps those who are in need from begging at the doors of homes. This way, their reputation is not harmed.”
In other parts of Iran, a similar concept is helping feed the homeless: refrigerators placed on sidewalks by shop owners and residents alike, where people can leave food for those who go hungry can take as they need.
With sanctions that were formally imposed on Iran by the European Union and the U.S. expected to be lifted this weekend, charitable organizations working in Iran will—for the first time in nearly a decade—have the chance to receive imported aid. The ban on monetary transactions between Iran and the EU and U.S. has left aid groups empty-handed—even lifesaving medicine and supplies could not be imported.