Humans of Kurdistan
The "Humans Of Kurdistan" project aims to present the cultural diversity of the country. A look at the faces but also the stories that lie behind each of them.

April 17, 2021

“I worked in a restaurant that was serving barbecue in Sarekani for 40 years. After our city was invaded by Turkey in 2019, we migrated to a camp near Tal Tamr. After we were settled, I had to start working again to provide a living for my family. I set up a trolley to sell (Mushabak), a type of sweet that's well known there. I sell a kilo for a dollar, which is way lower than Bazaar's price, and that's because I pay no taxes or shop rents, and the IDPs can't spend much money. I'm very happy with my work, I even have customers from outside of the camp. However, I can only work during the winter, in the summer not many people by my product. Therefore, I search for other jobs during the summer because I can't afford being idle”. ...

April 15, 2021

“As a kid, I was into making things by hand, especially using ceramic. I've lived in Iran for several years and learned the profession from a Persian master. I wanted to work at a factory where they were making vases, but they wouldn't let me because I am from South of Kurdistan. However, my dream did come true and I started working in a ceramic factory as a janitor. The best timing to practice what I loved was when the master was taking a lunch break, there were no electrical machines, so I used to use a pedal to operate the machine and make vases, it was very tiring. He used to get angry if he were to find out that I had used his equipment. One day, he got a phone call and went home for the rest of the day without finishing his work. I took over his work and made 10 of the exact same of what he was making”. “When he came back, he saw new vases, and angrily asked who had made them, and my friends pointed at me. He was very angry at the beginning, but after a while he was very happy that I had the potential to work. We worked several years together until I had to go back to Kurdistan, he was upset when he found out that I had to leave. I didn't stop when I came back, it's been 9 years that I do this job now and my sons are working with me. Pottery has become a part of my life, and I make a living out of it. All the material and equipment that I use exist in Kurdistan, including the mud and that glass-like material that I use for the designs”. ...

April 12, 2021

“Losing my grandparents several years ago was among the worst things that's happened to me. I lost my grandfather in 2008, and my grandmother in 2013. Even though I was just a kid, but I was really sad. I looked at my grandmother one last time before they bury her because I knew it was going to be the last time. I felt heart broken, and tears streamed down from my eyes. My father found it very difficult to tell me the news; you'd be very lucky to have grandparents like them. My grandmother used to put to me to sleep and take me everywhere with her. My grandfather used to always give me money. They were really good people, they used to always support me, and for me they were like my parents. Their passing was such a surprise to us, and I still get very sad when I think about it”. ...

April 11, 2021

“We are a twin, our names are Ahmed and Mohammed. Not many people believe us when we say that we are a twin, and I don't blame them to be honest, even we know that we don't look alike that much. Even though we were born and grown together, but we are not together as much as other twins are. We have studied only until the third grade, we couldn't stay in school due to bad financial situation, and now we are a shepherding for a gentleman in Kandinawa in exchange for a monthly salary. The sheep are not ours, but we treat them like they are, we are always watching them. We don't have mobile phones, we don't really think they are necessary and we don't it to take our time. For 12-year old like us, this could be not a very suitable job, but there aren't many jobs in the city, especially for our age”. ...

April 4, 2021

“When Turkey started their attacks on Afrin, we were trying to hide from their airstrikes in the caves. I was pregnant back then and was about to have a baby, the day they took me to the hospital, the hospital was under the threat of being destroyed, there were rumors that it was going to be hit by airstrikes. I was very nervous until I had the baby, and after a week of giving milk to my baby, I couldn't do it anymore because I was so scared when I used to hear the sound of the airstrikes. Our financial situation was bad, I was sometimes only giving the babe water and salt to eat. We left our city and there was only one way out. Our car broke down and we had to walk to survive. I had my two weeks baby and I didn't even feel the pain of my surgery at the time. A car stopped and picked us up until we got to safety. I have gone through some difficult times, but I still hope that we will one day have our city safe and free again”. ...

April 1, 2021

“During the 1980s, I was a young girl living in the village, practicing our old traditions and culture. My brother wanted to get married to a girl in the village next to ours, and back then when you wanted to get married, but didn't have the money to fund the marriage, you could give your sister to one of their sons as a wife. They weren't even asking the girl if she wanted to get married or not. I got married and lived with my husband, but because we didn't know each other well, and didn't understand each other we had many problems. Nevertheless, I ultimately accepted the fact that it was my life and I needed to adapt. Due to my husband's job, who was a moving farmer, we used to move a lot. My husband decided to buy a car and move to the city, he used to go to work for weeks and not come back. During that time, I used to practice sewing to help out. I am no 70 years old and things have changed a lot. Women can speak up for their rights nowadays”. ...

March 31, 2021

“During Ahmad Hasan Bakr's presidency, there was an opportunity for students to travel outside of the country for 3 months. I was able to get a travel passport, travel to Vienna/Austria and then stayed there illegally. I handed myself in and told the police that I don't want to go back to my country. I was put in a camp in 1979 and then had my residency card. I was working in an Austrian electric company for a year where we used to make light bulbs. I was doing well financially. I started learning German because German is the main language in Austria. I stayed there for 8 years and got my citizenship. In 1985, my father was arrested by the government and they used that as a pressure card for me to go back to Mousil. I went to the Iraqi consulate there and said that I will only go back if my father was released”. “I remember that they drugged me, and when I opened my eyes I was in Baghdad. I later realized that they treated me this way because I supported Kurds in protests and participated in rally against the Anfal. I had an Austrian citizenship and they saved me from being executed by the Baath regime. Being tortured has affected me psychologically, but I feel fortunate to be living in a peaceful Kurdistan now”. ...

March 29, 2021

“I have had a shop for many years, but due to how expensive shop rents are I have come to setup my business at my father's house. I have set my equipment next to theirs, and am slowly organizing myself. I work in Sanandaj, and my work is unique in all over Iran, but we are not supported at all. I am now thinking about attracting customers from outside of the country. What we do is very difficult, crafting is an art, and it's a shame if it's not developed well enough. During my work, I always make sure the people who work from me learn the work as well, and they make a living out of it”. ...

March 28, 2021

“I was just three months old when my father was martyred, and I have been raised without a father, but my mother acted like both parents. On March 12, 2004, there was a football game between Jihad and Fatwa football teams. During that game, Fatwa fans, attacked the Kurdish fans of Jihad team in Qamishli stadium. This led to a chaos and a protest by the Kurdish fans, but the Syrian police forces shot fires at the Kurdish crowd. Qamishli and the other Kurdish cities did not go to sleep that night. Every young person went back to the stadiums and protested, the police fired again and my father along with other fans were martyred. My mother told me this story, I truly wish he was here with us now because I really miss him. On the other hand, my mother had always tried to do what is best for us and sent us to school. Every year Qamishli's municipality arranges a game between Qamishli (Jihad) team and Fatwa team to spread love between the fans. I am proud to be a daughter of a man who had fought the system back then”. ...

March 26, 2021

“I have been working for my father ever since I was a kid, and I learned sewing from him. I have always been fascinated with celebrities and wanted to see them, but now some of them visit me. One day Bizhan Kamkar visited me and requested 6 Kurdish suits to wear for a special program at Kurdsat TV and his concert in The United States. Before requesting the suits, he wanted me to first fix his jacket, and once he saw the result he really admired it. I was really happy seeing him on TV wearing the clothes I'd made. I have made Kurdish clothes for many well-known people in Kurdistan, and I am always pleased when I see them wearing them because I know I had done a good job”. ...

March 24, 2021

“I really like arts, especially makeup and cinema SFX. This year, I received an award for zombie makeup in Duhok, and that encouraged me to further develop my career. I am now working on a project for our Peshmarga forces, I'm planning to include cinema SFX in their trainings in order for them to be able to adapt better to the environments they are in. The equipment I use are the same that are used anywhere around the world. Therefore, I tried to come up with better makeup material. I am also working a horror movie about zombies because that's something our cinema is unfamiliar with. I remember when I first started working on this people were looking down on me, so it took me a while until people became more familiar with it. As a girl, I want to defy the odds and show my community that we as girls are no lesser than our male counterparts, we can even do better than them”. ...

March 22, 2021

“I was always into sports, and that encouraged me to study sports in college. I started getting into cycling in 2011. The first thing I tried was going from Barzan to Soran town. Then, I expanded on my travel and went from Duhok to Soran, then Slemani, Halabja, Biyara, Tawela and Iran's borders. I travel solo, and that's a testimony of being confident and making decisions for yourself. The longest I have traveled was from Duhok to Istanbul, 1700 kilometers away and it took me 23 days. I had a GPS with me, and every cycler knows how important it is. My last travel was from Duhok to Basra, and it took me 18 days. Security situations weren't ideal, but I took the chance and did it anyway. Traveling to Basra had taught me how the people their love Kurds and Kurdistan. I was wondering why they love Kurds so much, and it was because how Baath regime had all those bad things to Kurds and Shias. This is why they had so much love for me and Kurdistan”. ...