On August 4th, 2020, Beirut, Lebanon suffered massive explosions that devastated the city. To honor and support Beirut during these difficult times, we wanted to dedicate this week’s blog post to highlight the city’s inherent kindness and compassion. While residents are banding together and caring for each other now more than ever, this sense of community is nothing new to Beirut locals. One of our favorite examples of the city’s altruistic roots took place a few years ago when philanthropists worked together to create Beirut’s ‘Wall of Kindness’ initiative.
The ‘Wall of Kindness’ Initiative
Motivated by a desire to “deinstitutionalize charity and reignite our faith in humanity,” a group of organizers brought a Wall of Kindness to the city of Beirut. A concept that had originated in 2015 and had been quite successful in several cities around the world, these walls were meant to provide necessities to people in need. Coat hangers, shelves, racks, and sometimes even the occasional refrigerator would line the walls, decorated with spray-painted art that illustrated their “take what you need, leave what you don’t” motto.
The group of individuals that organized Beirut’s Wall of Kindness was composed of men and women between the ages of 20 and 60. In an interview with Annahar, one of the organizers explained that while their stories were unique, they all had one thing in common, stating, “We all share an immense love for this city and one very beautiful trait: kindness.”
In an admirable effort to maintain the integrity of the movement, all organizers insisted on remaining anonymous. According to Annahar, “The initiative was devised purely for public interest, free of any desire for personal recognition.”
Once the project went live, the Wall was fully stocked and decorated with bags of food and clothes, among other supplies waiting to be brought home by their new owners. The overarching hope was that passers-by would see the Wall not only as a community resource but also as a representation of kindness in action and a reminder to do good, wherever you are.
An organizer shared some sentiments with Annahar shortly after the Wall of Kindness was revealed to the public, stating, “Just a few days later we have seen people walking away with bags and smiles, big smiles; we have seen the wall be replenished by complete strangers. We have seen Lebanese people from Africa, from Dubai, from the South and the North, and from Beirut and beyond come together to speak about this… This is kindness.”
Reflecting on Beirut’s Wall of Kindness initiative has left us inspired and moved. We hope that Beirut’s residents can find comfort and hope in stories like this one as the city heals and rebuilds.