Jessie PARKS

IRAQI KURDISTAN ARTIST STATEMENT

Much of my time in 2016 and 2017 was spent in Iraqi Kurdistan documenting the post trauma and war stories of Yazidis, Syrians, and Kurds in the region,  most of whom arrived in 2014 from the south and the west due to ISIS occupation of their cities or villages. I worked as the Communications Director for a small NGO that primarily sought to build temporary refugee camps strategically named "villages" for the fact that they never exceed a population of 200.

 

It was a vast difference to the nearby 19,000+ member camps that functioned more like crime and disease-ridden cities. Our intention was for the displaced to one day return home better than when they arrived. The children didn't miss out on education, but attended the school we built and staffed with local teachers. PTSD counseling and a hospital we built was open to all. We worked closely with the mayor of the town to empty arrivals and also help the city flourish rather than be crushed by the weight of more need.

 

Much of my time was spent photographing and gathering stories of the people there to crowdsource or bring awareness, particularly to the distant Western audience that knew only what the major media was covering about the country- which was primarily from the front-lines, and primarily from a masculine lens. During my time there I was also hired as a freelance photo journalist for various of NGF's in the region as well as a few publications. The jobs allowed me to travel and see more of the country and her circumstance than just the city of Soran Diana, where I lived.