HELLO BAGHDAD

This blog shows everyday life in Baghdad. The Dutch journalists Paulien Bakker (text) and Marieke van der Velden (photography) travelled to Baghdad in 2011 and 2012 to portray the lives of ordinary people behind the enemy lines. The violence was in decline, people dared to hope again. Paulien will return in July 2014, as Iraq is falling apart, in search of the people we met before.

This project was published on LENS Blog of New York Times, shown on TEDx-Baghdad and won the PANL-Award. We are now looking for new media to publish the stories of 2014.

Wish you contribute? Send an e-mail to paulien.bakker@wxs.nl or info@mariekevandervelden.com

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SHORT DOCUMENTARY: HELLO BAGHDAD

A short documentary of 4 minutes (made by Marieke) showing Paulien working on the project: Hello Baghdad.

MEETING WITH AN IT-SPECIALIST

On Christmas Eve 2005, Khduer heared an explosion close to his house. Instead of closing the doors and staying inside, he ran to the place of the explosion. He found a group of international journalists stuck in a restaurant. A suicide bomber had exploded himself right in front of the restaurant (Khduer would later find the top part of the suicide bomber’s body in the whole the explosion left in the turmac). Khduer didn’t hesitate, he went inside to help them get out.

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IF YOU’D ASK ME!

For the accidental listener, the old men at the teahouse at Baghdad’s old souq sound very much like men watching a sports game. “If you’d ask me!” 83-year-old Shap Pnar Obeidy says. He is wearing a cap and leaning on his cane. “I would build an empire like at the time of King Faisal. Look at agriculture for example. We used to be exporters, now we depend on imports.”

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INTERNSHIP IN BELGIUM

When we drive through the street of Baghdad Marieke says to our translator and friend Maryam: “I was a bit scared going to Baghdad. I’d never been. When I told my mother I was going, she said: ‘WHAT?!’”

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I STILL MISS THE NETHERLANDS

Nour was denied asylum in the Netherlands and had to return to Baghdad. “I was happy to see my mother and sister again, but also very scared to go back; we had been so scared in Baghdad. But when I held my mother in my arms, I cried and cried with joy.”

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TO THE PSYCHIATRIST

In Baghdad’s slum, Sadr City, psychiatrist Dr. Haitham fought tirelessly against the stigma of mental illness. A mental illness is seen as a visit from the devil in Sadr City. Did he win his battle?

DANCER RAWA

Rawa (46), dancer and initiator of an NGO that learns children in prison to express themselves.

‘Baghdad is still the same city, despite the sadness. We face great challenges but I know we can handle them.

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FIRST SCHOOL DAY 

A yellow cab slows down on the busy Abu Nawas Street and comes to a stop before the unobtrusive wide gate of the Mama Ayserschool. It’s half past eight.

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HAIRDRESSERS

Hairdressers Saleh and Tahir ran their business together from 1983, through all the wars and sanctions, but when in 2011 money became more and more important in the Iraqi society, they fell out. Tahir moved to the barber shop next door. Did the new violence bring the old friends back together?

OLDEST PROFESSION IN THE WORLD

Meet Hind, who practices the oldest profession in the world in a country that actually forbids it.

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