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Wall of kindness Tackling poverty in Jaipur one shirt at a time

Despite being a desert state, winter in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan reaches temperatures as low as 9 degrees.

In the states capital city of Jaipur, 3.6 million people face the cyclical battle of a semi-arid weather system; involving extremely hot summers and freezing winters.

Although only 19.9% of people in state are considered below the poverty line, it’s evident that a large amount of Jaipur’s population not only lack a roof above their head, but enough clothes to cover their body.

Given that the humid summers dominate the city’s temperature, the choice of clothing is light linen and loose pants. Hence come winter, some of the poorest residents of the Pink City are left inadequately sheltered from the cool weather.

Poverty in India isn’t a new realisation. It’s been blogged about by journalists and snapped by avid national geographic photographers for years.

What is new? In a country where philanthropy has yet to take root, a wall of kindness has begun to sprout.

Originating from an unidentified man in Mashdad in Iran in 2016, the Wall of Kindness is a concept created to encourage people to donate clothing for destitute or homeless people. The motto “leave if you do not need” and “take if you need” quickly caught on, and spread to other Iranian cities. A wall later appeared in Karachi, Pakistan and in Liuzhou in China.

With the experiment proving successful, the Rajasthan state government decided in 2017 a wall of kindness would be replicated in every district of the state.

In Jaipur, the city’s first of its very own kind of ‘Neki Ki Deewar’ – aka wall of kindness - is situated in A.G. Colony Kalyan Samiti, about 7 kilometres from the city centre, and was created in association with Nerolac Paints, a leading Indian paint company who painted the colourful walls.

The wall is painted to assign different sections for men, women and kids, and has hooks inbuilt along painted trees to hold a variety of clothes.

The influential quotes written along the top provide further incentive for locals to stop, reflect, and give what they can.

The idea seems to have received an overwhelming response, with an abundance of shirts, pants, shoes and accessories hanging on the wall and on the ground.

The local barber who seems to have benefited from the increased foot traffic even attempts to provide a quasi-security function, providing a watchful eye as we pass by and investigate.

The idea has provided a safe, non-judgemental space for some of Jaipur’s poorest people to innocently browse through to see if anything catches their eye.

Upon watching one man having a browse, he politely and quietly folded the clothes he had tried on and did not fit, and the ones scattered on the ground, and put them back on the hooks and racks.

He simply walked away with a belt and a smile on his face. No shame, no judgement, and no more loose pants.

Jaipur – tackling poverty one belt at a time.

Created By
Ryan Webb
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