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.

October 7, 2021

“I recall when I was 14, we had a tricycle wagon and we would sell sunflower seeds. The tires on the wagon belonged to a bicycle. We were a few brothers and we would take shifts and head over to the wagon to sell sunflower seeds on daily basis. Therefore, my father purchased a bicycle for us and we would use it for transportation. When the tires on the bike and the wagon would puncture, there weren’t any mechanics in my city. As a result, when my father would visit Erbil to import nuts, he would take the tires for adjustments. Therefore, I pondered upon the idea of fixing them myself. 21 years ago, I would rent out my bike during Eid and other celebrations up until the point where I became a bicycle mechanic. At the moment, I own a shop for adjusting bicycles, where we purchase, sell, and fix bikes. Thank heavens, my family’s livelihood depends on it. I have found the route to my own occupation and I am very pleased with it. People visit me a lot in Akre, alongside villagers”. ...

October 3, 2021

“According to my mother’s words, there was a lot of argumentation about what to name me. Later on, to my aunts’ preferences, a name was chosen for me that involved the name (Ziyad). The reason for naming me that name leads back to my aunts being huge admirers of the artist (Ziyad Asaad). Moreover, my father is called (Asaad), it was more suitable. To be frank, I do not have an issue with the name, and it appeals to me to an extent. Back when I was a child, my friends would say, “His name is Ziyad Asaad.” In our alley. It was very ordinary to me. At the time, I did not think that artist was that well-known. But as I finished my education, and engaged with further people, I figured out why so many people admire this artist. But I will not conceal that I do not attend to him, and his songs are not my favorite. Nevertheless, I would like to see him up close and tell him, “You are the person I was named after”. ...

September 30, 2021

“I was born in an affluent family, but I have always desired to have my own independent business. I have never preferred a job where an individual order you around. I have had the very same opinion on education as well, meaning I do not consider employment as independent labor. I discontinued my education at the age of 18, in hopes of standing on my own feet. Initially, I established a shop and worked in it. After I drew people’s attention to myself and built trust, I attempted to utterly indulge myself in my job, so that I do not detach from the market and the business. For precisely two years, I did not grant myself one day off. I was able to reach my intentions and establish an adequate foundation for my business. I have faced a great deal of misfortune amidst this career, but nothing is as unpleasant as continuously traveling to Sulaymaniyah from Halabja for commodities. Traveling on that road always comes with calamities. I have even had a car accident once, I still suffer from pain in my legs”. ...

September 28, 2021

“My mother used to tell me, “I was about 2 or 3 years old, only recently starting to walk. One day, a woman came to our house and said, “Your son is chubby and beautiful.” After that and by a couple of days, I came down with a fever and my temperature would not drop. They took me to a health center, the doctor prescribed an injection, and an acquainted nurse gave it to me. From then on, the injection did not become my treatment. Instead, it became the cause for losing both of my legs. They searched everywhere for a medicament, but they could not find it”. I have not gone to school, because I came down with Palsy in both my legs. I am now 45 years old and have been married for 15 years to a woman similar to me, and we have 4 children. I have my 150,000 IQD disability salary, and it is insufficient for me. But for the past 4 years, I have set up a cake and Pepsi shop inside a school and the teachers have been of great assistance to me. But it has been 2 years and my condition has been a bit unpleasant due to the Coronavirus and school doors closing”. ...

September 27, 2021

“I am from the Bnary Kusrat village at the brim of Dukan lake. Ever since I have known myself, I have not gone to school and my life depended on agriculture. By planting tobacco, sunflower, and watermelon, I provide for myself and have a minor salary from my Peshmerga days. But as of now, I am a farmer and I am occupied with producing sunflowers on my farm, whereas I have evolved 12 acres of land into sunflower plants this year. I regret not going to school but I am delighted to have 5 sons, who are all educated. Despite my immense efforts with them, they are yet to finish school. Their contrast with their mother and I is that they are able to read and write, and we are illiterate. But we have occupied ourselves with agriculture and I sell our products in Sulaymaniyah and Pshdar and provide for my family with it”. ...

September 13, 2021

“When I first started working with my father, we would make tahini with very simple equipment. I recall back in that time, our tahini mill operated with water and we would grill the sesame with wood and fire. We had very little product with a lot of diligence on daily basis. Thanks to God, we have transported our factory from the village to a much larger village called Qasrok in the borders of Duhok City. Currently, my brothers and I work together, and we make more than 1 ton of sesame into tahini, and manufacture 2000 Kilograms of tahini per day. A fraction of it is local sesame and we import the other fraction from abroad. The weather in Kurdistan Region is suitable for producing sesame but due to the strength and the increase in the sesame fat percentage in the Region, we import a selection of the sesame from abroad. As of now, we export all of our products to the Kurdistan Region, and due to the hygiene and quality of our tahini, it has a lot of demand. I have a very pleasant feeling because I get to witness the outcome of our years of diligence and I am proud of myself.”. ...

September 11, 2021

“My friends and I are busy playing in that deserted area over there on daily basis. In many instances, adults complain and say that this is no place to play games and that jumping and leaping here is a mistake. Their excuse is that this place is covered with argil and our clothes will get smeared, or that the perils of all that smoke and the flames from the oil fields will influence our health. We are also aware of that but they must acknowledge the fact that we are children and we like playing. When we do not have anywhere to go, we are compelled to play here. When we gather in alleys, we cannot play from the fear of fast drivers. If we do not have designated locations for playing where we are secure, we are obligated to turn to a place as such. I hope the government can establish a number of centers and lawn playgrounds so that we could advance our aptitudes in sports”. ...

September 9, 2021

“You perceive being an only child mostly when people and your surroundings repeatedly tell you and remind you that apparently, you are a lonely person and deserted. I am an only child and I have always thought that a human’s essence is his own pillar in every aspect. Therefore, if you believe that having various brothers means you won’t lack anything and that in one form or another, you are a whole person, I would like to inform you that you are immensely mistaken. One hundred brothers cannot become the safety net your parents can be. Being an only child is not the same as being an orphan. Being without a mother or a father is. We often overhear from people and they assume only children are weak. Personally, I feel as though it is exactly the opposite. Because you feel as though you must stand on your own feet from a very early age. Therefore, I want to inform all the only children who are similar to me, that we are powerful people, we are our own support and backbone”. ...

September 5, 2021

“I have been visiting the Great Mosque for 30 years and pray there. I have memorized the entire 30 parts of the Quran. I recall when I had good eyesight, I used to crop wheat and barley and cut down trees in the village. When I lost my eyes, I was not able to perform anything, it was very hard. In the year 1953, I lost both my eyes due to eye pain. I do not have hope that my eyes will heal ever again because they do not even have corneas any longer. But this is God’s will, and he will form rocks inside the eyes if he desires. In the year 1959, I asked for my cousin’s hand in marriage and we wedded. She cared for me very well, and thank God, we have 5 sons and 5 daughters. On the day of the Halabja Bombardment, I was heading to the mosque to perform the lead prayer. I reached the gates and the sound of planes appeared. Everyone ran. My son grasped my hands and we went inside a basement. I lost many families and relatives due to the chemical bombings. If I had my eyesight, I would have liked to see the saints; to see Sheikh Ahmad again alongside everyone else I know”. ...

August 29, 2021

“There are plenty of people who are unemployed with the excuse of the lack of work opportunities. If a man is determined to work, he will find bread in the mouth of a lion. I am from Hajiawa and I currently reside there. Job opportunities are limited in that neighborhood. There aren’t many work openings and vacancies as required. It is not possible to wait on employment. Therefore, for the past few years, I found it suitable to sell fruits on the side of the road in Smaquli. I alter my fruits depending on the season, and I am familiar with the tourist’s preferences. Generally, they enjoy fruits that can be devoured on the road inside their cars such as, (plum, rhubarb, strawberry, apricot, berries, Egyptian cucumber, and so on). So, I try to bring the fruits that are domestic products from the fruits and vegetable suppliers as much as I can, because they taste better for the customers and it is beneficial for the region’s economy, and it also motivates our farmers.I love the location I work in. Although it is the source of my income, I was also acquainted with a good household here; we became relatives and they are now my in-laws”. ...

August 1, 2021

“Back when I was 11 years old, I would watch Karate and Kungfu tournaments on the television screen. Even though during that era, satellite channels and social media platforms did not exist. Oftentimes, I would watch Korean or Japanese films, in my heart, I would wish to be acquainted with that art. I will never forget when my deceased mother would turn sacks and cloths into a cushion, I would hang it on the ceiling and practice for 2 to 3 hours every day. It got to the point where I would raise my voice and be buried so deep in the game, even my neighbors were aware of how passionate I am for that sport. In 1999, I practiced Kungfu and Karate with 2 black belt instructors for a year and a half. Afterwards, both of them relocated their homes to Erbil. We were over 20 players and were left without an instructor. It is misfortunate that within this society, solely soccer is considered as a sport, while other sports have faced neglect. Thus, I drifted afar from that sport and to this day, whenever I see a Karate player on the television, I feel a lump in my throat”. ...

July 11, 2021

“I remember when I was a student in 8th grade at secondary school. At the time, we would study historical subjects and could perceive culture, relics, and historic topics reflect clearly, therefore it blended with my veins and body early on. I thought about collecting those items up until I completed high school. After I graduated from the institution, I returned to my village. I caught the sight of some remains, pots, and manuscripts written on stones in the area. To my dismay, today's generation does not give significance to such matters and has demolished most of them. I recall there have been times where we would discover vessels filled with money from that era, a portion of it was sold, and a portion of it has been detained by affiliated parties. Afterward, some of my friends and I from the village contemplated to start collecting cultural and folkloric remains to rescue them from extinction”. “In the beginning, we started from the village and collected various items. There were a lot of unique objects due to its’ early history; items that were utilized by our parents and grandparents. I would ask my father questions regularly and he would speak about those rural bygones. Things reached a stage where we received a few local television channels and arranged round tables and programs. I organized cultural and artefactual festivals in our village for two years in a row and acquainted my belongings with visitors and other people. Many people have shown praise and several others that have had ancient artifacts contacted me and brought them to me. One of my brothers offered me a house that currently has over (2000) cultural items and artifacts. This is a significant honor for me and it delights me to know that people still enjoy seeing these objects and equipment”. ...