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Story of Burhan

Iraq (Kurdish

- Monuments tell the story of origins of any nation. They are the foundations of nations’ existence, its presence, its civilization - explains Burhan, whom I have met in Baharka refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. We spoke in his workshop - small room, made of metal sheets and wooden boards, filled with models of minarets and other historical buildings of Iraq. Many of them were razed to the ground by ISIS militants several years ago.

Burhan brings back memories for himself and for other refugees. Styrofoam mosques and churches tell the story of lost home. They remind about life before the war, before the escape, before the camp. About the old country and the old life. That is why Burhan in the camp is supported by everyone. And taht is why sometimes people cry when they see his work.

Burhan is an artist who, even though he cannot read or write, knows how to recreate lost monuments with almost one hundred percent accuracy. Unfortunately, the only material he can work with in the camp is styrofoam.

- If only I had more space and material, I would make models of architectural monuments from all over the world - Burhan says.

He fled Mosul from ISIS terror a few years ago. When he talks about the several different levels of decoration of the al-Nuri minaret and other detailed elements of the building, his eyes light up with passion and pride. He recalls that working on the models gives him relief and a break from his thoughts, although the memories of the destruction of Mosul still cause pain.

I met Burhan in November, during my field trip to refugees’ camps in Iraqi Kurdistan thanks to Polish Medical Mission. When I saw his work, I decided to organize a fundraising event. We managed to gain 1750 zlotych. I was suprised and overwhelmed by the fact that so many people from Poland wanted to support an artist from a refugee camp so far away.

Around two months later Burhan sent me a video via Whatsapp – he opened an exhibition of his work in Baharka camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. The event was covered by local television.

Written by Anna Mikulska

Story of Burhan
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