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 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 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”. ...

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 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”. ...

March 19, 2021

“I spend two hours a day with my birds at home, I have a place for each and every one of them. People usually call for a good duck, rooster, chicken or goose. I have been doing this job for more than 20 years. You have to be experienced in this job and not trust everyone. Sometimes I buy birds from the bazaar and take them home to keep them. If the weather is nice, I go to the birds' bazaar in Bardarash and sell my birds. I once bought a sick rooster, I took it home and it cost me $4000 worth of birds. Ever since, I decided to not trust everyone and trust my own intuition. Thankfully, I have also profited a lot, I might have profited more than $10,000 during those 22 years. The profit is not much, but it's enjoyable. I work tirelessly because I make a living for my family out of it”. ...

March 17, 2021

“Due to my job (selling spices), people visit me daily and ask me about casting spells. Some request to remove a spell that has been cast on them, and some ask to cast spells on others, or they ask for some materials and say that some Sheikh asked them to buy them. Whenever people visit me, I ask them to talk about their symptoms, some of them don't have any symptoms of spells, so I recommend them to go to a psychiatrist. I don't personally believe in casting spells on others, it is a sin in terms of religion, and also a very bad thing to do in general, why ruin people's lives? Why all this hate? Some people thank me and say that I am right, but some get frustrated and say that because I don't sell those stuff I don't want people to buy them elsewhere. There are now people who trick others for their money, I hope everyone stays away from it”. ...

March 15, 2021

“Previously we used to do farming, and that was extremely difficult, but we had to do it because in Smaquly there isn't much more you can do due to its geographical location. We also had people who were in the Peshmarga forces, and they made their living that way. Nevertheless, once the dam was built it opened a door for more opportunities because now people come here as tourists, and it has also become a way between Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. The people living around here took the opportunity and opened shops, I opened a shop where I sell things that usually tourists buy. My brothers and their kids work at the shop, and I welcome every guest to this little tea shop here”. ...

March 11, 2021

“I was born in Hanara village and I still live there. I have been married for 7 years, I was only 18 when I got married, and we have two kids now. I have never been to school, and I can't write; I can't even write my kids' name along with mine. When I see people writing, then I realize the mistake I have made not going to school. I wish I could read and write now. Maybe I could have worked somewhere if I was literate. However, now when I think of it, I either have to be shepherd or a farmer until I die. I have hope for my kids, and I always tell their mother to help them in their education. I don't want them to become like me because I truly see myself as deaf and unable to speak at some places”. ...

March 10, 2021

“I was born in 1967 in Akre. I have spent 31 years (half of my life) selling coffee in markets and streets. I first started differently in Mousil. I had people's attention in the area, I had a portable coffee machine and was always serving it hot. If you take a look at it, it has two sides, one for bitter coffee and the other for sweet coffee because everyone has their own tastes in here and even in Mousil. I worked 9 years in Mousil and then came to Kurdistan. I first tried working in Duhok, it was very new there, I was selling hot coffee in Winter on the streets”. “I was making sus in the Summer, and I was using natural ingredients from Kurdistan to make it. I was getting the ingredients from tree roots near river shores. There was a high demand on it because people used it as medicine for their stomachs or diabetes. After several years in Duhok I went back to Akre, and I now work 3 or 4 hours in the streets to make a living for myself and my family, and I have made a lot of friends working. If I don't show up every day to provide sus and coffee to my customers, they'll call me to see if something is wrong”. ...

March 7, 2021

“I have been working in this tea house for 50 years. Shaab tea house is a very beautiful memorial for my father and Sulaimani in general, I work here daily with my brothers. This tea house has become the source of a living for us, and is considered as a hub for educated people in Sulaimani. We try for the place to be more than just a tea house, we try to make it a place for gathering for writers and artists. We have turned the walls into a museum to exhibit the famous people of the city. We have a library that benefits many people. It is a very nice feeling that Shaab tea house is always associated with Sulaimani city. On Fridays, artists and politicians visit us and take photos. As long as I live, I will work at this house, I will continue working here because it is like a second house for me”. ...