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KABUL, Afghanistan — When the Wall of Kindness finally reached Kabul, it was an idea whose time had not quite come.

The concept itself is simple: Paint an outdoor wall in a bright color, usually sky blue, decorate it with slogans about how giving to the poor enriches the giver as much as the receiver, then provision the wall with nails so passers-by can hang up clothing to donate.

The messages on the walls have varied — peace, kindness, poetry — but they have all included this command: “If you don’t need it, leave it; if you need it, take it.”

Late last year, the first reported Wall of Kindness went up in Mashhad, Iran, and in the ensuing three months the idea spread to other Iranian cities, then to Pakistan and as far as Xiamen, in southern China.

Once the idea reached Afghanistan a month ago, it spread quickly. Donor walls appeared all over — in the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif, Lashkar Gah and Herat, and in Faryab, Takhar and Baghlan Provinces. Kunduz, the northern city still trying to recover from its devastation during a Taliban takeover last year, had four of them.

But in Kabul no one seemed interested until a 16-year-old named Halima Behroz was watching a televised report about an Iranian wall. She turned to her brother, Abdul Latif, 17, and said, “Let’s do it.”

Abdul had some experience painting walls, as a graffiti artist who roams town with a group spray-painting peace slogans and scrawling murals. He rounded up his crew, about 20 high schoolers ages 14 to 17, and with Halima started the Lantern Charity Group.

Being well-brought-up, they also got their parents’ permission for the project. They come from middle-class families whose parents support education for boys and girls — and more than half are girls. They include Sakina Saidi, 14, who has two older brothers (“They don’t tell me what to do”) in Kabul and a father who runs a food stall in Kuwait and sends money home to pay the tuition for her private school.

Sakina’s father told the members of the group that he would match whatever funds they raised to get started, she said, so they pooled their pocket money and savings and soon had 7,000 afghanis, or about $100. That would be enough for spray paint and nails, plus bus fare to transport group members to the future wall.

“My father’s cool,” she said.

Money proved to be the least of their problems. The owner of a building in the busy downtown area of Shar-e Naw, which had an invitingly blank wall on a busy street, refused to let them use it, on the grounds that crowds might gather and attract a suicide bomber. They were turned away from Kabul University, told it would be defacing government property.

In a jittery capital, they heard the security objection a lot. But here they were, a bunch of high schoolers, comparatively unafraid. What was the adults’ problem? The last suicide bombing, after all, was three weeks earlier; it’s not like they happen every day, and Kabul is a city of five million.

Finally, way out on Darulaman Road, the principal of Habibia High School allowed them to use a patch of the compound wall around his institution, a public school but an elite one, where President Ashraf Ghani once studied. They painted their wall salmon, with blue inscriptions, including one, “Humanity is my dream,” a famous line by the poet Afghans know as Maulana, but the rest of the world knows as Rumi. He was a 13th-century Persian, but he was born in Balkh, in what is now Afghanistan.

The high school principal, Sayed Shah Bakabuli, was not entirely persuaded. “I gave them my permission because I know it is for a good cause, but I still have my concerns that, God forbid, it should be taken advantage of by the bad guys,” he said.

The youths had other problems. After they pounded their nails in, they returned the next morning to find that someone had stolen them all.

“I guess they needed nails,” Abdul said, but quickly recovered his composure. “It’s O.K. We have more.”

Then, for frustratingly long periods, they had a Wall of Kindness, but not much kindness. Hardly anyone was leaving garments. Young men would stroll by and mock them.

“They were bullies, looking for a fight,” said another member of their group, Ali Roman, 16, an 11th grader who said his goal in life is to go into business and get rich — so he can have more money to give to the poor.

“We just told them we’re here to promote peace, not to fight anyone,” Abdul said. “I myself have lost two of my friends to suicide bombers in Kabul. I know how it feels, and I don’t want to lose more friends.”

A few religious conservatives complained, too, that the Facebook page they set up to promote the wall had pictures of the girls involved, fraternizing with boys.

“What did they expect?” Sakina said. “A lot of us are girls.”

“We faced so many problems,” said Halima, who like her friends insisted on being interviewed in English — although she added that she could use Chinese, if preferred. “Street harassment, many people who are against girls even to go to schools, let alone make a new thing like this.”

One day this month, the group was finding few clients, either givers or takers, at the wall on Darulaman Road, which begins in a squalid slum next to the fetid Kabul River, and ends at the old royal palace, a bullet-and-bomb-riddled monument to the civil war years. The new array of nails sported two T-shirts, another shirt and a pair of camo trousers, plus a jacket.

Along came a janitor from the school, Muhammad Hashem, 50, who picked up the shirt for one of his four children. “I don’t know who did this, but it’s great,” he said, explaining that his salary was only 6,000 afghanis ($85) a month, so he wasn’t buying a lot of clothing most months.

Walls of Kindness elsewhere have been much more heavily patronized. Afghanistan’s first one, in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, is constantly full, with celebrities and government officials jostling to be seen hanging up donations. Tahir Qadiry, a local television executive who started it, has added racks for shoes, and plans to put up bookshelves as well.

Kabul’s young humanitarians were conferring recently about their Wall of Kindness conundrum and came up with a new idea. They would go en masse to the homes of rich Kabulis.

“We’ll ask them to give us their clothes,” Sakina said.

Then they could seed the wall, and maybe get things going for real.