I just took these photos of a mural on a wall on the outskirts of Qamishlou city which reads “I will not leave. There is hope in Rojava”. Underneath is a text in Arabic which also states “I will not leave”. These murals are painted all along cezire canton’s numerous cities. The idea is to encourage people to stay and not become refugees, demonstrating a conscious internal dialogue within these communities about the difficulties and challenges that many people face and still face here in Rojava but also the desire to stay on one’s land. Over the past 4 years as a result of the ongoing wars, terrorist attacks, and the humanitarian embargo placed on Rojava the economic situation of the region has deteriorated significantly. Many people have been displaced and forced into becoming refugees or to live in internal camps here. Basic food and daily necessities have at times doubled or tripled in price. Many families are struggling through the winter period and it takes immense courage for them to survive when they face so many barriers- especially when the false allure of ‘Europe’ looms overhead so enticingly.
So where is the hope? The hope is in the cantons attempting to address this problem through building Women’s and mixed cooperatives which serve to provide an alternative model as well as supporting the economy by producing cheaper products. Additionally jobs are created, especially for women since many of them have been forced into heads of households. In Qamishlou city alone over 10 cooperatives for women alone exist! regulating market prices for the benefit of the community, subsidized products, supporting the farmers and growers through free or subsidized seeds, machinery etc, regular distribution of free basic items to the communities, providing poor families with livestock like sheep and goats to encourage them to become financially self sufficient along with a number of other projects exist to support the community. Many struggles remain but many challenges are also overcome by the people here.
Art and graffiti play an important part in promoting the democratic, gender and ecologically sustainable of the new system here. There are all kinds of murals advocating for gender equality, mutual religious respect, children’s rights etc.