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.

May 27, 2021

“I studied up until the fourth grade and I can now gladly do my own things and don’t need anyone for reading and writing. I was 12 years old when I started selling vegetables and fruits from one village to another. I remember when visiting some villages, instead of money the people would give me eggs and flour. I know most of the people who live in those villages from the men and women to their children. They respect me a lot and we eat at the same table. I still do the same job now and on Fridays, I take the eggs to the poultry market in Bardarash and exchange them for money to make a living for my family. Four of my children are students, the other two are young and don’t go to school yet. Anyone who chooses a job they like will be successful at it. In the beginning, I worked on a wagon and now I drive a pickup truck and make a livelihood for my family without peeking into other people's lives. My job makes me very happy although it’s extremely tiring. I’ll continue doing my job for as long as God gives me life”. ...

May 25, 2021

“I live in Qamishli, but originally, I'm from Cizire Botan. We came to Qamishli a long time ago, and now it has become our hometown. With the start of the war in Syria and the west, all of my brothers left but I insisted on staying. I decided to work and make a living for my kids. I have been a cobbler for 35 years. I learned from a man named Abu Salim and I owe him many favors. In the past, people used to do this job on the street. We were the first to open a store for repairing footwear and bags. After that, I opened a store myself and hired an apprentice. He was a quick learner and has stayed with me until now. We have been working together for 35 years. I love my job, but I get back pain because I sit most of the time”. ...

May 24, 2021

“My parents were old when I was in university, and my other siblings didn't take care of them. So, I had to leave university and go back to our village to take care of them. From that moment on I’ve become like parents to them. I spent my life farming and during that time the income from farming wasn’t that much, I started laboring at Azad dam. In order to be able to find a job and not face any problems, I started to wear men's clothing instead of my clothes and from that moment I left my girlhood. Since then, I have been living that way. I face criticism lots of times because of the way I dress but they never stop to think about why I chose it”. ...

May 22, 2021

“I haven't academically studied art but Youtube was like a teacher for me, I learned my job from Youtube, I'm amazed by European painters like (Picasso, van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci) because of their creativity in art. This became one of my obsessions to follow their lead and to find my own way so I could be famous just like them. Every painter has their secret when they paint, they have a fantasy inside their head and they express it through the paintbrush. In the beginning, when I started painting I would draw five little birds as a symbol for my work. Sometimes people recognized my work from the birds. I give some of them as gifts, and I paint the requested ones for money. For most jobs, if you want to be successful at it, you have to make a sacrifice and give your work as gifts to people who have a taste in art. For them to evaluate your work and criticize your paintings, so you work harder and not repeat the same mistakes”. ...

May 18, 2021

“17 years ago, I was young and hadn’t married yet. I lived in Gorava. The houses in that neighborhood were very old and cars couldn’t reach the alleys to bring down the trash and other appliances. I became a contract employee at the municipality and would clean the streets using a donkey. I would also use it to take food and construction materials up into the neighborhood. People told me not to do this job since I was young and they wouldn’t give me their daughter to marry. They would belittle me and make fun of me. Luckily, I now have a family and 4 children. Since I was the eldest son in the family and our financial status wasn’t good, I couldn’t finish school and only studied until the fourth grade. I chose my career at that time and love it a lot. I don’t mind the people’s mocking, all I say is may God bless them. As of now, we clean and pick up the trash in both Gorava and Chostayi neighborhoods using four donkeys. We also help the ill and elderly go down until they reach vehicular access”. ...

May 16, 2021

“My love story is beautiful and amusing at the same time. When my husband was young, he was friends with my brothers so he would come to our house a lot. I never felt that he had feelings for me because I was young. I remember, he would do funny faces so he could draw my attention but I never looked at him, or he would go to the roof of our neighbor's house to draw my attention. Everyone around me, from the neighbors to my friends and family members knew about his love for me except me. When I found out, I was in shock because he was like a brother to me, and for the same reason, I rejected his love several times. A lot of elderly people talked to me but I still refused to accept. At the end, I thought about it seriously and he was the perfect one, he is someone who loves me and respects me and he would do anything I asked for. We were engaged for a while and then got married. Now, we have three kids. It’s been 17 years and to this day I'm very happy with him. I have never regretted marrying him because I always get my support, abilities, and energy from him”. ...

May 9, 2021

“I'm 67 years old and haven't been to school till this day. I always count on myself, I can't remember a day where I haven’t had a job. The only request I have for the girls and boys who have a graduation certificate is not to rely on being employed. Human beings should always do their best, because each person has their own energy and mindset, and they have to show it so they can find themselves and make their own living. In 1974, I went to the mountains for 5 years and became a Peshmerga. At that time, I only had 5 Iraqi dinars, but we did it all for the sake of our country, not for the money. Back then people weren’t merciless, they were grateful. We were happy and helped each other expecting nothing in return. Now, I have a retirement salary which can only cover my cigarettes. I sell fowls as well and have a pickup truck. Everyday I go to different fields and shops in different cities to sell geese, ducks, and chickens. Living with animals and fowls is very beneficial and I have a happy life”. ...

May 7, 2021

“When I was young, my father bought me a camera, he said I will teach you how to use a camera so you have your own. He taught me how to use the camera for a whole year. In 1975 I started to work at Al-Tabqah city. After that in 1986, I transferred my job to my hometown, Afrin and I opened a photography studio with the name Studio 21 because of March 21. Syrian Armed Forces didn’t allow the name, so I changed the name to Studio 23, not to get arrested. With the start of the Syrian and Western revolution and the eviction of the Syrian government forces from Afrin, I renamed my studio, Studio 21. Despite working at the studio, I would visit Afrin's village and mountains to take pictures and turn them into an archive. In 2018 when Turkey started to seize Afrin we moved to Qamishli. After a few days, on social media I saw that my studio had been burnt down and was turned into a butcher shop. I lost most of the archives that I had collected from 1975, I got really upset when I saw that scene. Even if I have one day left of my life, I will return to Afrin and build my studio again”. ...

May 5, 2021

“To help my husband with our household's expenses, I have been working as a tailor for 5 years now and I like my job. I have learned tailoring from YouTube videos and after we left Sari Kani and were placed into the camps, I bought a sewing machine by monthly payments to start my job, I started from our tent. The tent was my working place and our shelter for living. I sewed dresses for my customers by monthly payments, because their income wasn’t enough. I sew dresses for 3,000 Syrian Pound which is less than 1 dollar. I graduated from the College of education at Al Furat university. But I couldn't use my certificate to work because of all the fights and staying in the camps. I'm hoping that we can go back to our place and leave the camps because living in the camps is very difficult. I never thought that a day will come and I will be living in a camp”. ...

May 3, 2021

“After the civil war in Kurdistan, unemployment was at its peak, life was getting tougher by the day so I decided to go to Iran for work with a friend of mine. We were working in a factory, the working hours were too many, and so we used to go for trips from time to time. There was a place called Sarab, I was going there so much they started calling me Omar Sarabi, and that's become my nickname. I then decided to go to Turkey, I stayed there for a while and then wanted to go to Europe. I had to go through smuggling, and if I wasn't able to make it, I had to work and gather some money and then try again. One day while I was working, a big logistics device fell off and hit me in my back”. “I was unconscious due to the pain. When I was conscious again, I was at the hospital and in bad shape. The doctor told me that my spinal cord had been damaged, and that my legs will never be able work again. The pain of being away from my family, my loneliness, and physical pain all had mixed up. I was in a very bad mental state. I will never forget the nurse that helped me every day to recover. Staying there became meaningless for me, and so I decided to come back to Kurdistan. My mother was extremely sad for me. I became a disabled person, and decided to follow the hobby that I used to have. I started painting portraits, and pictures of nature, and was able to slowly adapt to my new life. Once I became more familiar with social media, I was posting my paintings online. People started to get to know me from all around Kurdistan, and they used to come visit me, take photos with me, and hear my story”. “I got to know a lady who admired my work, we started to fell in love with each other. We used to make video calls every day. When she came in my life, I started growing hope every day, life was becoming better every day. Unfortunately, her sister made came in between us, and we couldn't get married. She believed that a disabled person doesn't deserve to marry a normal person, and that hurt me and made my life difficult again. I express my pain through playing the Nay. I see my nephews every day, I hug them, play with them, and they make my life easier. One thing that I can never hide is that what keeps me alive are my brushes, paintings, and my Nay, not people's likes and comments online. What keeps me alive are the pigeons that come sit on my lap, and I get to smell freedom from them”. ...

May 1, 2021

“I care a lot about the future, I always have. I have wanted to write and become a well-known Kurdish poet since I was a kid. Believing in the future is essential in building one's confidence to achieve their goals. Most of my dreams have come true due toy writings, whether they are poems or short speeches. The constant support of my family has made me more confident and more successful in my life. I started putting my feelings into writing, everything I felt in my life was on paper. Despite all the wars that are happening in our area, women are prisoners of our traditions and culture. It is a shame for women to work, they believe only men can work. Nevertheless, the situation is much better now, women exist in all industries. I still have the same dreams as I did as a child, and one day I will become a well-known Kurdish poet”. ...

April 26, 2021

“As I turned 11, my hands became familiar with scissors, and I have been doing this job for 49 years now. In 1974 I joined the revolution, I opened a barber shop in Choman, and was cutting Peshmarga's hair. When the revolution failed, I left to Iran to work. I then came back to Erbil and worked as a barber until the civil war in 1995. I then left to Akre and opened a shop there. While being a barber shop, my place also had become a center for art because back then the people used to support artists. I had the desire to take photos and record artists voices, and that led me to open a studio and produce music for artists”. “I have also received awards and recognitions from the enlightenment ministry. When the war against ISIS started, along with some friends we were cutting Peshmarga's hair in Akre, Nawaran, Khazr and Bashik, and we were also thanking them for their service. The difference between other barbers and me is that people with different ages come to me for haircuts.  I usually work with scissors, even though it is more tiring, but I like using scissors more because every haircut is different”. ...