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Ordinary Iranian citizens are stepping up to help the poor through the winter

Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl MN/MA/JV
Beautiful, harsh Iranian winter.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Weather has hit freezing temperatures in Iran, and while the snow and ice make for beautiful landscapes, it’s bad news for the estimated 18.7% of the Iranian population (about 14.5 million people) living below the poverty line.

To help fellow citizens in need, Iranians are setting up دیوار مهربانی, or “walls of kindness, ” all around the country, with wall hooks that allow people to leave winter clothes for those who need them.

With the simple message “Take if you need, give if you don’t,” the initiative has spread from the mountain city of Mashhad (link in Farsi) to cities across Iran, the BBC reports. Social media has played its part, allowing people to use hashtags like دیوارمهربانی# (#wallofkindness) to promote and discuss the effort.

The “walls of kindness” may be part of a larger movement towards citizen solidarity.

Iranian news agency FarsNews reports (link in Farsi) that in the capital city Tehran, where the number of homeless people is believed to be far higher than the official 15,000, public refrigerators accessible from the streets have been filled with foods for the homeless to take. That initiative is called “پایان کارتن خوابی, or “Payane Kartonkhabi” (“the end of sleeping in cardboard boxes”).

According to the BBC, some Iranians have suggested that surge of public kindness is necessary due to lack of interest on the part of “statesmen,” who have failed to redistribute the country’s wealth equally.

Mahsa Alimardani of Global Voices Iran has helped translation from the Farsi. 

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