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.

July 8, 2021

“During the 80s, I used to spend my days with a brush and paint; my paintings delighted my spirit. When the route converted after the uprising, I wanted to try an alternative art and started photography. Photography was more different, it required more time and sharp eyes. During the insurrection, I resided in Akre, and I would archive pictures of how the people rose. After the circumstances calmed, and the people stabilized, I captured pictures of peoples’ everyday lives and Kurdistans’ alluring nature. Later on, I built a shop to provide for myself and get by and took pictures of newlyweds. what is disheartening is that a recent class has emerged and has persuaded photography without any concern for etiquette. They have disintegrated the art and utilize it for personal interest. Photography is morality; the person who carries a camera is required to have high morale. I hope the nature, culture, and history of Kurdistan are transformed into portraits and hanged in public places instead of foreign pictures and draw peoples’ attention to Kurditsans’ nature”. ...

July 5, 2021

“Age passes and does not shy away from anyone. I have worked as a porter for years. What I on no account thought of was the toilsome labor and the hefty objects I would lift with my shoulders. Unfortunately, I no longer have the strength nor the time. I have been working as a security guard in a factory for some years now, and spend all my time by my lonesome; I am the speaker and the listener as well. The factory owner respects me immensely and aids me, and I thank God for that but nothing compares to spending a night at your own home and resting with your children. I have been raising a bunch of pigeons and chickens. This might be difficult to believe but I love them as if they were my own children. It is correct that animals and humans are two separate worlds but unless you mingle with them, you will not understand how understanding they could be and how much devotion will be built within. Anytime one of my hens incubates, and their eggs hatch chicks, it delights me as much as receiving my monthly salary”. ...

June 10, 2021

“I was working at a teashop and made a dirham per day. I would spend the money I had collected from work on antiques such as Vinyl record players and old radios. I have purchased most of my antiques in Erbil, Baghdad, and Mosul. One of my sisters lived in Baghdad, I would place my purchases at her house until they would stockpile, then I would ship them back to Akre. I have been collecting antiques for 55 years; my house resembles a museum. The variance between my home and everyone else’s home is that I own gadgets and antiques that date back to over 100 years. I am now 70 years old and live on my retirement salary to get by on daily basis. My health is poor and often stay home for days. What burdens me is that every so often people come to my house with the justification of paying me a visit but only end up stealing my belongings. I love my possessions dearly and I have purchased each and every one of them with my hard-earned money. I hope the affiliated parties of this city offer to build a suitable spot for my collector’s items, because I do not have the strength to monitor and keep an eye on them anymore”. ...

June 2, 2021

“According to the couple of years I’ve been serving in the health sector, I’ve seen many strange incidents both happy and sad. I’ve always helped patients as much as I can, even if it wasn’t in the hospital's ability. Our duty is to serve citizens. That’s why when we see patients or the patient’s family satisfied by us and later on thank us with a bouquet or some nice words, our urge to serve increases. One day on my way to work, I saw a child with brain paralysis in his sister’s arms. Knowing the hospital’s duties were difficult, I decided to financially support the child back to health and later on throughout life. As days passed, one day a respectful person came in and said that he was the father of that child. He had come to thank me for everything I had done for them and that God had taken him back. I can never forget that man’s gratitude and appreciation. His regards and prayers have helped me to continue doing good”. ...

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 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 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 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”. ...

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”. ...

April 24, 2021

“I didn't finish my education and became a shepherd in a village in Bardarash. In the winter, I used to go to take care of the cows, there were 27 cows, and I used to get paid 15 dinars per cow. I used to take the cows to many places, I still don't know why I was traveling so much. I was young, and I was alone, I didn't have any other shepherd with me to spend time with. I still like the work and cannot stay at home. I have gained a lot weight now, I don't walk to many places now, it has been 9 years since I have done so. From the beginning, I was using a motorcycle, then a horse, and now an old pickup. The worst time I spent shepherding was in 2003 because back then Baath regime's check points used to randomly shoot at us. I remember one day I was shepherding along with some other shepherds, they shot at us and we hid under rocks until the situation was calm again. I have been doing this job for 20 years, and I make a good living out of it”. ...

April 21, 2021

“After graduating from nursery, I always had my mind on how I can earn the nickname they give to nurses (angel of mercy). I have always treated patients and their relatives as calmly as possible. Patients usually are in pain and not in a good mood, so you have to have patience. Nursery has taught me many things, from being respectful to being calm. At the same time, there are a lot of upsetting things, for example when you have to deliver the news of someone's dying. I have seen many tragic cases in my life, but none of them equal to that one time when they brought in a 12-year-old child who had gotten in a car accident and was suffering internal bleeding. The child was in a very bad shape, we had to transfer the child to outside of Halabja. The child’s heart stopped two times on the way, but we could revive the child’s heartbeat, but the child unfortunately passed away the minute we got to the hospital. I will never forget the child’s face”. ...