The crisis in Syria has cost millions of people their possessions, their homes, and even their lives. As Syrians have fled the country by the thousands, one of the countries where they’ve come to seek refuge is Lebanon. But the horrors of leaving your home to save your life often don’t end upon reaching a safer destination. With nothing but the clothes on their back, it’s no surprise that estimates place the percentage of Lebanon’s refugees living in poverty at a staggering 70%. But in one city, citizens are coming together to help make life a little easier for refugees in a unique display of kindness and solidarity.
They’re called “walls of kindness,” and they’ve sprung up all over the city of Beirut in recent years. One such wall has grown so large that it was recently featured in a video by the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR. The walls are equipped with hooks so that passersby can leave clothing or other items as donations to be taken by those in need at their own convenience. One particular neighborhood in Beirut sees dozens of individuals stop by the wall each day to leave items.
But why do so many people in Beirut come to leave donations at such an unusual location? “It helps people in need who don’t really reach out to other people,” Lebanese student Yusuf Kobeissi shared with UNHCR in an interview after leaving a pair of pants at the wall. Because donations are made quietly and anonymously in an area where refugees can come and go as they please, it encourages those who would rather not ask for help to come and help themselves without the shame of public stigmas attached to refugee status.
“It is a testament to our faith in human kindness,” one anonymous donor shared. And there’s no doubt that the unique acts of generosity displayed across Beirut’s walls of kindness show that this compassion and kindness are make a difference in the lives of Lebanon’s refugees.