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Kurdistan's answer to the war

Syria nowadays is a living hell. Meanwhile, the Kurds try to build their democracy. We bring them your aid and bring back their stories in words and pictures.

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KURDISTAN'S ANSWER TO THE SYRIAN WAR

This is a joint project of photographer Jeffry Ruigendijk and Belgian journalist/arabist Annabell Van den Berghe. 

Soon we will be heading to Kurdistan to write down the stories of the Kurds. The Syrian civil war has caused a lot of damage, and a lot of changes also within the Kurdish region. The relation between several minorities in the region became even more tense than before. Fear is finding its way to the farest outskirts of the area, and political instability is a fact. 
 
Together we will put down in words and in images what life means nowadays in Kurdistan. We work together on a profound story and on a tvdocumentary. The last preparations are being made. We are buying our bullet proof jacket, getting insured and last but not least buying a lots of antibiotics and blankets for the inhabitants who cannot reach medical support if needed and we insure ourselves.
 
This is a call to all of you to share this project and to follow us through twitter  @Annabellvdb and @JeffRuig. And for those who want to contribute, we made this possible through this website. For every fund there will be a reward. A big thank you, mentioning your name at the credits of the documentary, and even a personal photoshoot. 
 
 
Please spread the word, and thanks a lot for your support!

 

When did we start this project?

Right before Christmas Jeffry got smuggled into Syria to make a photo documentary. What he saw blew him away. His explaination:

"The area I got smuggled into is known to the Kurds as Western-Kurdistan. And what I saw here was a brand new democracy. Idealistic, young, fragile. Every governmental council or organisation was divided by a minimum of 40% elected women, 40% elected men. In the middle of the Middle East! The garbage was being collected, judges made their rulings, police patrolled the streets. Normal for us, but bizarre over there!

I tried to capture all this in images. But then I had to go. I want to go back, and capture the happenings. Both the successes and failures. And I want to contribute where possible by bringing them medicins and blankets." 

By funding this project, you make it possible for us to bring this story to the world. We will spread the news and give it the international attention it needs and deserves. And meanwhile, we can already do something about the bad health situation of a lot of the Kurdish people.  

 

Check the 'gallery tab' to see more photo's, or go to www.ruigphotography.com 

Syrian refugee in Kurdistan

 

What you gonna do with that cash?

Of course, it's not all peace in Kurdistan. They regularly get attacked by islamist rebels and by the government soldiers and planes. That is why this democracy is so fragile. The Kurds also blame Turkey in aiding the islamists to break their newly founded democracy. And they got oil. Bad position to be in. So they fight both Assad's army, and the islamists. Part of your money will go to insurance for both of us, the other part will go to antibiotics and blankets for those in need.

 

Basically we need:

  •  as much as possible for aid to the local people
  •  1000 euro in airline tickets
  •  700 euro to get smuggled over the border twice
  •  600 euro for 2 go-pro camera's that I can strap to myself or to the     Kurdish rebels
  •  800 euro a month for the fixer
  •  170 a month in insurances
  •  400 a month for my rent
  •  300 a month for gasoline (prices tripled overthere!)
  •  100 a month for food

 

As a contriber you get: 

  • -Over 10 euro: A big fat 'Thank You' on twitter and on this page. 
  • -Over 25 euro: That fat 'Thank you' and an awesome mobile phone sticker. The sticker sports a 'Kurdish sun' on it. It will make you shine! 
  • -Over 100 euro: A 'Thank You' for you or your company on my website during, and months after, the trip. A limited (1/50) photo of your choice (after return), A4 size. 
  • Over 500 euro: That 'Thank You' from above, plus that photo from above, plus a portrait of yourself, or someone you want photographed, shot in Amsterdam. This will be after the trip, upon my return. 

 

!!!Keep checking this campaign for new photo's!!! 

 

You can also help a lot by spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, mail! Please do help, by sharing this project via the link above! 

Refugee going blind, Kurdistan, Syria.

 

Who are these Kurds? 

The Kurdish territory is spread over Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. The world counts approx. 45 million Kurds. In Syria many Kurds are stateless. That means they are foreigners on their own land. They are not allowed to speak Kurdish, they have no passports, their identity card identifies them as a foreigner. This means they cannot own a business, or a house. Being active in Kurdish social organisations could get them imprisoned before the revolution. When the revolution started many of Assad's soldiers left to fight elsewhere. The YPG rebels, who are Kurdish, filled in this gap. They fought against the remaining Assad soldiers, and with the Free Syrian Army. Their area is still not totally Assad free. What happens after the revolution is unclear. Kurds fear being overrun by islamists, because of their oil. 

 

And who are we?

Annabell: 

Annabell Van den Berghe is a journalist and Arabist/Hebraist. She started working as a producer and journalist in Egypt for the Belgian broadcast channel Canvas. Since then she has been active as a freelance producer and journalist for Dutch, Arabic and English media. She is also sworn translator for Arabic and Egyptian colloquial and teaches Arabic as a guest lecturer at K.U.Leuven.

Jeff: 

After traveling the world to surf, from age 22 to age 35, I returned to Holland in November 2012. In this time of travel, freedom had become an important part of my life. Something not only I should have, but all people. The single most important human right, if you ask me.

Photography had been a hobby during all those travels, but back in Holland I decided to see if I could make a living of it. I started assisting the renown Dutch portrait photographer Tessa Posthuma de Boer to learn more. One day, after assisting Tessa with the making of a portrait of Dutch MP Diederik Samson, I met a demonstrating Syrian outside the minister’s offices. He told me about the Kurdish struggles, and their current attempt at self-rule. This made me curious, so I went there. 

 

 

Team on This Campaign: