The Wall of Kindness, Migrants and Us

The agreement between the EU and Turkey regarding refugees has gone into effect and the first boatload of 202 deportees has made its way from Greece to Turkey. Europe has sent a signal, loud and clear, that it is using stricter criteria for granting asylum to refugees. This has succeeded in arresting the flow of migrants towards Greece. But Greece still has to care for the thousands already there and it is ill equipped to do so. Here is a simple humanitarian way to help them, with a wall. Sounds paradoxical? This is not a wall that divides but a wall of kindness.

The Situation at Present

Greece has just been though a major financial crisis leading to a change in government, and re-negotiations of loans. But the problem is far from over. It has the highest rate of unemployment (24.6%) in the EU. People have to work (when work is available) longer and harder to scrape by. And now they have to feed and care for thousands of migrants and refugees who have come to their shores.

Even if no new migrants arrive, Greece has to feed and shelter nearly 50,000 that are already there.   They are trapped because routes to Germany and  northern Europe have been closed. They may be there for nearly three years while their applications for asylum are processed. The EU has promised millions in emergency aid ($ 433M), but as we all know, it takes a long time to translate that promise to reality on the ground. This puts a huge financial burden on cash-strapped Greece, but Greek civilians have stepped in to help.

 The Wall of Kindness

An excellent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer When a Wall is not a divider, explains how the Greeks have come out to help their fellow men in need, to see that they do not go hungry. The idea is breathtakingly simple; if you have food to spare, place it where those that are hungry can take it. Such ‘Walls of Kindness’ have sprung up near well traveled routes used my the migrants. Citizens place fruits and vegetables, canned goods, even cooked food in bags and hang them from hooks implanted in these walls. The same goes for clothing. People that need them are welcome to take them. This way, excess food and unused clothes are now put to good use without taxing the government exchequer. This idea is so simple and the end result so beneficial that it has spread rapidly from city to city. In fact, ‘Walls of Kindness’ are now found in several cities in many countries.

Here in the USA

Here in the USA, the most advanced nation on earth, poverty is a reality. There are many that are undernourished, or, more correctly, malnourished. Yet, we see perfectly edible fruits and vegetables, and bakery goods discarded from supermarket shelves just past the ‘sell by’ date. In many restaurants and homes, the excess food  is simply discarded. What a waste! If only there was a simple way to get this excess food to the ones who need them; something akin to the ‘Wall of Kindness.’ Social Media has helped to get the word out and post the location of such ‘Walls’ in Greece and in Iran, where this idea first originated.

Could something like this be done here? There are many charitable  organizations with the same goal of distributing food to the poor. They could add a ‘Wall’ to their list. I am sure many would be happy to pack excess food in a bag and hang it from a wall knowing that it will be put to good use. I am convinced that deep down we all want to help our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate. We know where they are. We now need a suitable wall nearby.  Charities, churches, temples, mosques and synagogues could take this as an action item. Just look at the picture below to convince ourselves that this works.

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