As is tradition for pre-Chinese New Year preparations, there was a big spring clean at our place, leaving us with bags of unwanted, but perfectly useable, goods ready to give away.
But in China, the concept of donating second-hand items is virtually nonexistent.
This is largely thanks to a strong textiles and manufacturing industry, which means anything you need, you can buy cheaply, and brand new.
And while China has all but wiped out extreme, urban poverty, there is still vast economic disparity.
In short, people are still needy.
So while out walking over the weekend, I was puzzled to find workers installing something new in the underground tunnel linking the Beishan/Nanping areas and Huafa New Town.
A Wall of Kindness.
The concept that first began in Iran, sees rows of hooks tacked to a public wall, inviting passers-by to donate warm clothes to help others who may need them.
In China, where “saving face” is paramount, this spares them the shame that can come from having to beg for help.
This is also great news for the expat community of Zhuhai, who often come to live in China on limited contracts, buy a household of new items, and leave shortly after.
Without a charity donation point, many expats are forced to trash what they were unable to sell or giveaway before moving back home.
Rules of the Love Wall:
Don’t worry, it’s roughly translated below.
Notes about Donations:
- Types of donations: adults and children’s clothing, shoes, books, stationery, toys, sports goods.
- Damaged material: please do not donate underwear. Donated goods should not have obvious stains.
- If the above conditions apply: Please donate cleaned, disinfected items. If it cannot be disinfected, please be sure to wash donation.
- Donate books in mainly good condition, Chinese and foreign classics, popular science books, dictionaries, student books, story books, reader’s youth digest, etc.
- Please donate items by category.
- If all the walls’ hooks are taken, please place items into the donation bins.
Will it work in Zhuhai?
Recently, there has been a lot of news about how these pop-up charity walls have failed miserably, with the collection points becoming a disorganized dumping-ground of unusable clothes.
But I’m optimistic that this will not be the case in Zhuhai for two key reasons.
One, there are a team of charity workers on hand in the tunnel to help take and inspect donations, as well as explain what they are all about.
Secondly, the location of the wall is very well-placed, as it is between an area of the super-wealthy ‘new rich’ and other lower-middle class households.
To give you a bit of an insight of the difference of living conditions: over in the gated community of Huafa New Town there are trimmed palm trees among shop windows of luxury brands, overseas coffee chains and imported food stores.
At night there is a spectacular water fountain and laser light show in front of Huafa Mall, which also boasts the largest LED light ceiling in China.
Five minutes walk over the road in Nanping; it’s street food galore, speakers are blasting from outside cheap retail outlets and rubbish mounds pile along the road.
At night, it’s not uncommon to see locals fetching water from wells along the backstreets of Beishan.
The charity collection point is also cleverly placed underground where, during off-peak times, not many people are along the tunnel. This gives those who may be shy the opportunity to go along and pick something up.
Where is it?
If you walk south of Huafa New Town’s Starbucks, right of the bus stop, you will see a ramp and/or stairs that lead into the tunnel.