Police officers putting graffiti on walls? Read on to see how one city in Iraq is using art – and a so-called ‘Charity Wall’ – to help the community fight Covid-19

“Take what you need and leave to others what they may need,” is a phrase painted on the “Charity Wall” which encapsulates the community spirit of Samarra, Iraq, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has resulted in a complete lockdown in many places. Commercial activities have also been paused, causing widespread job losses, leaving many unable to provide for their families.

This motivated “Ishraqat Amal” (Glimpse of Hope) volunteers to prepare and place food baskets by one of the city’s central walls where people can come and pick up what they need. “The Charity Wall is a place of giving and solidarity. Those who are financially comfortable offer what they can, and vulnerable individuals can come and take what they need,” said Sawsan Saud Saleh, director of the Ishraqat Amal organisation.

The Charity Wall, where food baskets are placed to be picked up by vulnerable people

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iraq, the community-supported team has been collaborating with local authorities and community police to minimise the impact of the pandemic. “The team is really creative, and we have participated in their initiative, collecting and distributing food baskets,” said Abdulkarim Omar, Samarra Police Senior Chief. 

Community police participate in the distribution of food baskets

The graffiti awareness project, which is one of the organisation’s main activities, has become very popular within the community and has been welcomed by city officials. People passing through the main streets of Samarra can see the graffiti painted on the city walls, which are designed to raise awareness about the virus and show preventative measures that people can take to protect themselves.

The Ishraqat Amal team painting awareness messages on city walls
Raising awareness through graffiti on the walls in Samarra
A policeman participates in painting on one of the city’s walls

The team has also distributed informative leaflets in several neighbourhoods across the city, providing guidance on basic safety measures to minimise the spread of the virus.

One of the volunteers explaining preventative measures to community members

The Ishraqat Amal team has been able to combine art and social solidarity to raise awareness about the virus and support the people in Samarra to deal with the effects of COVID-19. “We hope other communities replicate our initiative, especially in vulnerable areas so we can support as many people as possible in these difficult times,” said Saleh.

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