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Kashmir’s ‘Wall of Kindness’ brings warmth during harsh winter | Poverty

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Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – A sweater hanging on a fence in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Srinagar caught Ali Mohammad’s attention.

It was a cold day, the start of Kashmir’s harsh winter, and most people were bundled in a traditional Pheran, a thick cloak worn by Kashmiris to stay warm.

Mohammad, who was in his 60s, walked up to those standing nearby.

“Son, how much for this sweater,” Mohammad said.

“Uncle, these are not for sale, but they are free for anyone in need,” a young man replied.

Mohammed, surprised, said: “Who can be needier than me?”

His eyes began to water. “I have three daughters with no source of income at all, I am very poor.”

Mohammad then picked out a jacket, other sweaters and shoes before leaving with a smile.

“It is really good to have clothes here,” he said. “People like me [now] don’t need to buy the clothes this winter. May God bless those who contribute these items.”





In Srinagar, a young Kashmiri man hangs clothes for people in need [Sameer Mushtaq/Al Jazeera]

The wall of clothes is part of a new initiative called the “Wall of Kindness”, started by a group of young people who took inspiration from similar experiments in Iran and Turkey.

“There are many needy people who don’t have warm clothes to wear as there is the sub-zero temperature in Kashmir these days,” said Abrar Ali, one of the organisers.

“After this wall got fame over social media we have witnessed many people contributing wholeheartedly,” he told Al Jazeera. “We wanted the message to spread across the Kashmiri society and young boys to come forward and establish more walls like this in their localities and I think we are successful.”

Harsh winter

The “Wall of Kindness” initiative is particularly well timed. Kashmir’s harshest winter period, known as Chilai Kalan, began on December 21 and will last through the end of January. Temperatures can dip as low as minus eight degrees and heavy snow is common.

According to the 2014-2015 economic report by the government of Jammu & Kashmir, about 21.6 percent of Kashmiris live below the poverty line. Many simply cannot afford the clothes needed for the winter.

The success of the wall in Srinagar has inspired young people in other parts of the Kashmir Valley to undertake similar experiments. Places like Budgam in central Kashmir, Baramulla in the north and Anantnag in the south now have similar walls.

“We felt this is a good move to serve the humanity,” Jasif Mir, one of the volunteers in Anantang told Al Jazeera.





Inspired by the Srinagar’s Wall of Kindness, young boys established similar wall in Anantnag, South Kashmir [Sameer Mushtaq/Al Jazeera]

Some hope to see the initiative expand even further

“These units should be established in educational institutions like colleges and universities, where students or outsiders can contribute books or electronic items like used laptops and mobile phones for students who come from low-income groups,” said Zareef Ahmad Zareef, a famous poet and social activist.

Ali, the volunteer in Srinagar, said the group plans to set up more walls throughout the city.

Ali, like many of those who have supported the wall, has been inspired by the number of people who have turned out to donate.

Among them is Fida Hussain who contributed jackers and footwear.

“I felt satisfied to see that people are coming to taking the clothes from the wall,” he said, adding “it is the best way to help needy people who suffer due to the cold.”

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Driver in satisfactory condition following head-on Gatineau collision

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One person was in hospital in satisfactory condition following a head-on collision between two vehicles in Gatineau on Saturday.

According to Gatineau police, the crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Montée Paiement, between Saint-Thomas and Saint-Columban roads.

Each of the vehicles had only one occupant at the time of the incident.

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Ottawa military family alleges bad faith eviction by Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada

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An Ottawa military family alleges their former landlord — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada — acted in bad faith when he gave them a notice of eviction, claiming he intended to move into their Vanier rental home with his own family.

The home is now listed for sale for $950,000, two months after Vivian and Tim Funk moved out with their two young children.

In documents filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, the Funks detailed how their landlord, Sulaiman AlAqeel, acted to end their tenancy by allegedly pretending he was moving in himself. This was preceded by an attempt to market the house to new tenants for significantly more money when the Funks had not given notice indicating they would be leaving, the documents alleged. “The landlord’s representative,” according to the documents, allegedly told the Funks they needed to accept a $500 monthly rent increase and a new lease if they wanted to continue living in the rental property, which wouldn’t be legal under the Residential Tenancies Act.

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Ottawa COVID-19 hospitalization data showing half of cases coming from community, not just long-term care

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With local data showing 50 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations coming from the community, long-term care residents aren’t the only one vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, Ottawa’s Board of Health reports.

Despite the majority of deaths having happened in older adult age groups in long-term care homes, residents shouldn’t think institutions are the only settings that are vulnerable to outbreaks that lead to serious illness from the virus.

“[Ottawa Public Health] continues to expand our understanding of the types of settings and situations that have the most impact on COVID-19 transmission in our community and is seeking academic partners to better explore exposure risks as well as a broader assessment of the harms from different public health measures,” OPH outlined in its document, to be present at the Board of Health on Monday.

At the same time, however, OPH says it is working closely with partners on “processes to strengthen and streamline responses.” This includes weekly meetings across agencies to address issues and concerns to ensure a strong collaboration, ongoing communications with facilities, preventative visits and phone calls to review infection prevention and control.

In situations where OPH identified failings at an LTCH or concerns of compliance have been raised, OPH has been quick to issue letters of expectation that outline the deficiencies and timelines fo compliance.

It is unclear how many letters have been issued through both waves of the virus.

And while outbreaks in LTCH during wave two have recorded a higher number of LTCH outbreaks than in wave one, the overall morbidity and mortality has been lower. This means fewer cases, fewer deaths and a lower average duration of outbreaks.

OPH contributed this to building on lessons learned from early COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCH in Ottawa.

https://www.ottawamatters.com/local-news/ottawa-covid-19-hospitalization-data-of-severe-illness-shows-half-of-cases-coming-from-community-not-just-long-term-care-homes-3136152

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