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 10, 2021

“I have been riding bicycles ever since I was a child. But as I grew older, I noticed that people view women who ride bicycles differently. So, I bought a bike to ride to work and back. I decided to launch a project titled “I Want a Bicycle” and several other girls participated. As the first tread, I arranged a marathon in Amuda city during the Elimination of Violence against Women day. We received a great deal of praise from people and women in particular. I broke the shackles of fear and shame by riding a bike. Our object is to increase confidence amongst women through this program. There are still people who are against the project and look over us in mockery but we believe in ourselves and our determination is imperishable”. ...

July 4, 2021

“I was 2 years old when my mother passed away, Therefore, my eldest sister was obligated to raise us. She would wash our clothes, and wake up early in the morning to prepare breakfast for my father and us. She was like a mother to us. We never felt like our mother had gone, because she would do all the things a mother would do. After 4 years of raising us, my sister got married. My father remarried to another woman who would treat us heinously most of the time. After a while, my youngest sister and I went to live with our brother. Life was not fine with him and his wife either, but she was better than our step mother. Later on, my sister and I got married. I am now a mother to 3 girls and 3 boys; I have become a grandmother as well. As for the tattoos on my face, the majority of Kurdish women have tattoos on their faces. I was 5 years old when my eldest sister tattooed my chin before she got married. I was still a child and did not want to be tattooed; but later on, I tattooed my hands as well. Nowadays, women do not tattoo their faces. That practice is almost vanishing and fading away”. ...

June 8, 2021

“Certain financial circumstances have led me to pursue jobs that were more on the masculine side. My husband was a worker, but he was left without a job during the war. Nobody wanted to build houses or buildings during those unfavored conditions. This prompt me to start working in order to get by and feed my family. I started selling basic items on my child’s trolley and I would roam the streets to sell them. I would hold my child with one hand and would push the trolley with the other. Things started getting better, so I bought a piggy bank to collect money and buy a pair of earrings for my only daughter. Later on, I decided to purchase a 3 wheeled motorcycle, because my customers were requesting more items and I could not fit them on my trolley. I did not have the required amount of money, so I had to use the money I had saved up for my daughter and it still was not enough. We borrowed the remaining amount of money and bought it; I learned how to drive it in just a couple of days. Afterwards, my husband received work as well”. “I started working on the three wheeled motorcycle constantly and wandered everywhere in Al-Hasakah to provide and earn a living for my family. My husband was a great support for what I was doing but not all of our relatives and neighbors were exactly on the same page. Some of them were very opinionated and disagreed with what I did and told me that women were not meant for certain jobs, while others rooted for me and were very supportive. It has been 10 years since I have started providing for my family. I am so proud of myself and my will power.I sell blocks of ice during the Summer and fruits and vegetables and children’s necessities throughout Winter. Anytime my motorcycle breaks down, I fix it myself. I do not want my children to be slaves of tradition and norms. I was able to enhance my family’s financial status. There is absolutely no humiliation or shame in what I do. If it was not for this job, who would have reached out and lent me a helping hand? My determination to work has given me the strength I have now”. ...

June 5, 2021

“I was born in the beautiful nature of Afrin. We have a connection with trees and nature in an indescribable way. After immigrating from Afrin to Kobane and later on to Qamishli, one day with a group of my friends we got together and announced the Prchi Sawz (The Green Braid) project, in which we would be planting approximately 4 million trees in Qamishli and the surrounding areas. Because of the lack of green areas in Qamishli, the Syrian system provided a big area of land for planting wheat and barley. Anyone wanting to plant a tree on their land would be punished. We have more volunteers now and everyone wants to help as much as they can. In the future, we will give each house a tree to plant in their front yard. We are still in the beginning but are sure that we will have planted 4 million trees during the next 5 years. Our project is independent and is for serving the community”. ...

May 31, 2021

“I was 10 years old when I lost my mother. At the beginning of the revolution in Syria, many problems and security issues emerged. My family and I had prepared ourselves to go to my grandfather’s house in one of the villages near Amuda for Eid al-Adha. We were very excited as we were going back to our village to have a good time and get away from the city and not study for a week. Around 10:30 pm, we got on the bus. As we got near the village’s border, many shots were fired upon us and the source is still unknown till now. I was really scared and thanked God nothing had happened to my family. But I saw that something had happened to my mother. When I looked at her body, I saw she was bleeding. We arrived in the village and immediately took my mother to the nearest hospital in Al Hasakah. But after a few hours, my sisters and I got a shocking news that my mother had passed away”. “We had only been living with her for a few years and up until today I still can't forget what happened to me and my sisters on that cursed day. I didn’t feel loved by anyone around us anymore. I felt like everyone was running away from the responsibilities they had towards us. I felt weak. I felt there was nobody by my side to support and protect me except for my father, in which he became more miserable after losing the love of his life. I didn't talk to anyone for a long time, except for some friends who would always check up on me. In the beginning, when my mother passed away, I lost confidence in myself. But life was continuing and didn’t stop despite the difficulties we were enduring due to losing the most precious person in our lives. We have our dad to depend on for everything, he’s been with us till this moment. I’ve reached university now and I’m studying law. I wished my mother could see my success but this was God’s fate”. ...

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 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 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 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 22, 2021

“The most difficult time in my life was when I was 14 and my brother went to South of Kurdistan, my parents encouraged him to leave due to the war that was happening in our city. We were in a really bad state the day before he left. He was our protector. We were used to him being around us at all times, and come to school with us, and play with us. He was our only protector in difficult times. One evening my mother packed his stuff, and the next day early in the morning we took him to the boarder and said goodbye, it was the most difficult time of my life. A year has passed, and even though we are constantly communicating through social media, we are yet to get used to him being away. I hope my brother returns, and all other people who have migrated return to their families”. ...

April 19, 2021

“One day while I was participating in a sports event in Latakia, I received the news that ISIS had attacked the villages around Khabour, and my village is there as well. I quickly returned to my village to defend our land. After a few days, ISIS attacked our village and we couldn't hold on much, we retreated. Some of my friends were martyred along with Evana Hoffman who was a fighter from Africa fighting on our side, I was very sad. After ISIS's invasion, some of the people went to Europe and some went to safer cities like Qamishlo and Hasakah. ISIS destroyed the church in the village, which was built more than 80 years ago, and that motivated us to liberate our village. After four months between ISIS and Khabour protection forces and YPG we were able to liberate the village that they had destroyed. Today, the 150 Asyrian families that were living in the place have all left, only my wife and I are left here. We wish that stability comes back to this please and the families return”. ...