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.

January 19, 2021

“I tried to do my best in school ever since I was a kid, my dream was to become a doctor. It's always said that while growing up, dreams become smaller, but I never believed that. What made me more motivated was after the explosion of Newroz of 2015 happened, my father was there and he was one of the injured. We took him to the hospital, I saw many casualties there, and I also saw all the shortcomings, that motivated me to become a doctor even more. My father was injured in his leg and arm, and because his surgery was so late, he became paralyzed. He could not work again so I decided to leave to Southern Kurdistan to get a suitable job. We stayed there for a while, but we couldn't handle it and we came back to Syria. I was then a 12th grade student, and had to try my best to get good grades to be accepted in Medical college”. “Many things happened in the same year, ISIS came to our region and were close to our house, and so we had to leave to Qamishli. Despite the bad situation, I didn't give up on my dreams, and studied and was accepted in Medical college in Damascus. I was extremely happy, and my family were proud of me because I never gave up. I went to Damascus, but a lot of trouble came my way. I was a lonely 18 years old girl, away from my family during the war and instability. As a girl, life was very difficult. I went through a lot, but never stopped chasing my dreams. I am now a senior in college and am going to be doctor to help people so that I wouldn't let what happened to my father happen to anyone else. I have learned a lesson that your situation is only affected by your will and your determination. We have to make positive changes, whether it's for ourselves or others”. ...

January 18, 2021

“I am 65 years old, and I live alone with my sister in Qamishli, I have never gotten married. My father and uncle have fled from the Ottomans a hundred years ago, and have come to Qamishli. During the Arminian genocide, my grandfather had been killed by the Ottomans and my father had been only 6 months old. My grandmother had stayed 7 days among dead bodies to pretend to be dead when soldiers roamed around, she had been afraid to move and get caught, but she had later been able to escape, helped by the mayor of their village. My mother's family have all died. Last year, the same tragedy was repeated in Karabagh region, so we decided to not celebrate new year, showing condolences to all the martyred in the war against Azerbaijan and Turkey armies. The Armenians have faced lots of killings on the hands of the Turks and the Ottomans, same as the Kurds. I hope that peace and safety are back to the world in this new year”. ...

January 15, 2021

“When I was 12 years old, my family forced me to quit school due to struggling financially, and due to the traditions in the family. I was cut off from education and that had a lot of negative effects on me, I wasn't the same as the other girls anymore, but I was still reading novels and stories because I really liked them. I registered at a Kurdish language learning course after the Rojava revolution, I finished three levels of the course and decided to become a teacher, but one of the staffs told me I cannot because of my age. It was pretty upsetting, I felt like all of my dreams and wishes were crushed and I couldn't do anything in life. After a long while, my daughter was applying for college, I went with her to complete the paperwork, and I told my story to the person in charge there. He asked me to apply as well, I was extremely happy, and felt like I had hope again. My family and husband supported me when they knew I can finally reach my goals. I now go to the same university my daughter goes”. ...

January 13, 2021

“I was six years old, my father sent me to a private school for a better education. Most of the kids we Christian, Arabs, and children of rich people. However, since we were Kurds, the school didn't treat us like the others, they were racists and were ignoring us. I stayed there until the sixth grade. I didn't continue there, I went to a public school and made friends, I was much happier comparing to my elementary years. I wanted to get good grades to get into pharmacy, but back then pharmacy college was in Damascus and there was war there. I didn't want to go there, so I chose one of the universities in Hasakah, and I was accepted in economics because I believed that it'd have a good future. When I started in University, it was not what I was expecting. The teachers were corrupt and didn't treat students properly. After two years I quit college”. “Then Rojava University was announced in Rmilan, which is the first Kurdish university in Syria. I decided to study petroleum engineering there, it was a bit difficult because the university was in its early years, and many people said that it won't have a good future and their degree is not recognized locally and internationally. However, we kept going and didn't stop. I saw big differences between the public universities and Rojava University, the students loved each other and were helping each other, and the teachers were like our friends, they taught us very well. This helped us reach our goals. I graduated and had many job opportunities. I'm very happy that I can work in gas and oil fields because there used to be only male employees here. This is truly positive for equality between men and women”. ...

January 7, 2021

“I have loved music and singing ever since I was a kid, and my dream was to become a musician when I grow up. My sister supported me and pushed me because she was a violin player, and my family didn't mind. I had a good voice so I started singing, I sang a lot and my father supported me, and decided to help me develop my talent. People suggested that I learn how to play Saz, and I started learning while I was 13 years old, I also tried to do well at school. I kept playing and my skills were getting better and better. I am now preparing for the 12th grade final exams, which determines my future. I have to try hard and study well, so I'm currently focusing on education and a bit distant from music. However, I will never quit music, or school. I want to get high marks so I make my family proud, I also want to become a musician so I can make myself proud”. ...

January 5, 2021

“I joined the army force that protects Rojava while I was still studying in institution, I then insisted to go to Afrin, back then Afrin was surrounded by the Turkish army forces and was about to be invaded. I was very happy to go there because I really like the people there. It was a bit difficult from the beginning because we have different dialects, but once I learned their dialect it became much easier. In the beginnings of 2018 Turkey started a military operation on Afrin, we faced their airstrikes with our basic weapons for 58 days. Many of my friends were killed right beside me, and many civilians as well due to Turkey's random airstrikes. I was injured and I went back home, and I restarted my education because I had stopped when I went to fight in the war. I am now a student in Rojava university in Qamishli, and after graduation I would like to become an elementary school teacher because I want to teach children”. ...

January 3, 2021

“When I was in elementary school, I really liked arts class. It was precious class for me, and my teacher was always encouraging me to draw. I kept drawing until 2015, and then discovered a new way of drawing through watching TV, and that was 3D drawing. I started watching teaching videos of 3D drawing because I wanted to learn something that was rare in our area. I was the first person to draw 3D paintings in our area, and that made me to try even more. I wasn't successful in the beginning, but I kept trying. I participated in a gallery, but my drawings were not good enough to attract people's attention because my paintings have to be on a table, not on a wall, and if they are hanged on a wall, they'll lose their specialty. I was really upset about it, but my family helped me to get through it, and to succeed. I now study to be an architect in Qortoba university, and knowing how to draw 3D paintings have helped me a lot because architecture and 3D painting are related”. ...

January 1, 2021

“When I was a kid, we had no school in our village. Once I was 16 I went to (Hujra) Islamic teaching to study the holy Quran, and I learned how to read and write, but I couldn't do well because I was slightly older. One day, there was a storm in our village (Haram Shekho), the storm had driven all the rocks and debris into the valley. I took out the rocks out of the valley and started building a house. After several years I got married and had a couple of kids, and when my children grew up we went to live in the city so my kids go to school and not end up like I did. I was traveling by a bike while I was building the house, it has been 60 years since then and I'm now 84. I still ride my bike and it's very important to me. I have good health, and I go to see my friends every day at the park and spend time with them”. ...

December 30, 2020

“Everyone has their own desires and passions, my passion is carpeting and creating decors with wood. I started making Violins, Oud, and Saz as well as cars and other toys on small scales from wood 22 years ago, using simple tools. I used to buy broomsticks, carve them and make shapes with them and then work out the details. I was making 13 Ouds with each broomstick, sometimes I was even making a human figure that could move. After a while I joined the army, and after two years of service I came back to my shop and continued working to further develop my skills and make a living for myself. I learned a lot and gained a lot of experience, but due to our bad financial situation I had to move to Lebanon and work there. I stayed in Lebanon for seven years and then moved to Turkey for work. However, I couldn't succeed there so I moved to Iraq to work as a carpenter for a year, I then soon decided to go back home”. “I bought several tools and started my work, but couldn't continue due to the war and had to sell my tools to cover daily expenses. I now work for a friend of mine, he gave me a job as a payback for a favor because I taught him this job. I once visited a village and saw a tractor, I decided to make a wood model of it, it was difficult at first, but when I finished it I loved how it looked. Another time my kid asked me to make him a toy. I spent an entire day making it, and the finished product was amazing. When my son saw it, he decided that he won't play with it, he will put it somewhere safe until he's grown and he'll showcase it in his house when he's a grown up”. ...

December 29, 2020

“I'm twelve years old, my father had studied economics and was a very good accountant. I had spent most of my childhood with him and watched him what he did. My father knew that I liked math, so he registered me into IELTS, which is an institution for learning English and mental math. My father and I were racing to solve equations, and he was faster at first, but I beat him after a while. After two years of training and studying, I participated in a mental math contest for Arabic countries that was organized in Egypt, I was supposed to go there, but couldn't due to COVID19, and participated through the Internet. There were 46 groups in the contest from all the Arabic countries and Japan and Germany. I won the contest and was able to solve 100 equations on an abacus in less than 5 minutes. My life has changed after that contest, and now I want to participate in more international contests. Certainly, this is thanks to my father for his support for me, and my teacher (Rawdhah), as well as the institution". ...

December 27, 2020

“I was a sophomore in college in 2014, my family decided to go and live in Germany due to the financial crisis in the country. I stayed here because I wanted to finish my education, and my father decided to stay with me until I graduate, and then we go together. I graduated, and soon a guy from Hasakah proposed to me and I got married, my plans to leave had failed. My father was still going, so he went to Erbil to finish his paperwork, I went along with him until we got to the border because I knew I wasn't going to see him soon again. His paperwork work was delayed, and then refused, and so he decided to go illegally. One night he called and said that he was going along with eight other people through the Iraq-Turkey border, but they had failed due to the mountainous areas. He then told me that he wasn't going and he was coming back to Syria". “I talked to him the day after waiting for him to say when he'll be back in Syria, but he said that he'd found an easier way and will be here by the afternoon, he said they'll have to cross a river and they'll be here. I waited until the afternoon and there was no sign of him, several days passed even without any trace of him, we had no idea what had happened to him. We were worried that he had been arrested on the borders, we looked everywhere for him. We talked to all the checkpoints, we even checked the hospitals in Iraq and Turkey, but couldn't find anything. Six months passed by and there was still nothing, until one day my aunt came and brought us news that he had drowned in that river, only one made it out of that group. I couldn't believe it, so I tried to contact that one survivor. I was able to reach him, he said that the smugglers had tricked them into it, the river was much bigger and deeper than they had said". “When they had reached the river, the water hit them with force and none of them knew how to swim except for him, he had been the only one to reach the shores, and when he'd turned around he saw the group drowning, he then had passed away and didn't know what had happened. All this time their bodies were still in the water being eaten by fish, after six months they were located and extracted. They were recognized through the papers they had. When we became certain, we opened a tent for his funeral in Qamishli and waited for his body to be brought back. I burst into tears when his body arrived and I hugged him and looked at him for one last time. I had lost my father due to the war and the situation we were in, otherwise we wouldn't have had to take these risks". ...

December 24, 2020

“I was born in the 1970s in a village close to Amuda city. I was raised there and studied in the elementary school until I got to third grade. Our school had no girls except for me and my cousin because they thought that education is only for boys. There was a stigma for girls in education according to the culture of our village, and most of the girls in our family didn't go to school. Therefore, my father decided that we go and live in Hasaka so we are far away from that culture and we finish our education. We spoke Kurdish in our village, and it was difficult to communicate in Hasaka because I couldn't speak much Arabic. This made me try even harder to study, and I actually was among the top students at that school. In high school, I started loving to write short stories, but I hadn't told anyone but my father because I wasn't very good at it. During final exams, I was going back to our village to study because it was quiet and suitable for studying”. “During that time, whenever I used to go outside for studying a woman from the village would come up to me and tell me to continue studying, and was also telling me about her problems. Saying how her husband and her husband's family are pushing her because she wasn't able to get pregnant, and many more problems. We became friends that way, but after a while, I was informed that due to those problems she had, she had committed suicide. I was really affected by this, and it became a reason for me to go out there and show that I exist. I wrote a story on that woman and all the trouble she had gone through, but I didn't publish it. I finished high school with a good grade, I got accepted to college and was able to travel to the capital, but my grandfather didn't accept it because he couldn't let me leave as a young single girl to a distant place, and I accepted that. I went to a teaching institute in Hasakah, I finished it and was one of the top students.” “I was employed in a school near our house, my former classmates were jealous of me then, but I wanted to work in a distant place so I can meet new people, go to new places, and improve my writing. I secretly kept writing fantasy and stories, but kept it hidden fearing my society wouldn't accept a female writer. I then got married, and my husband accepted me being a writer. He really supported me, and encouraged me to publish my writings in publications, after my father, he was the second person to support me. I then started publishing what I was writing. I used to first write fantasy, but I found out that I am a better writer if I write about reality, I then started writing about Qamishli, Hasakah, life,...