“I would like you to paint the word “Sabu” which means “praise be to god” in Zerma. I went to a school set up by the mission during the colonial era and I was a christan like my father. When I got married I became a muslim, but whatever I call my god, and regardless of how I pray, I’ve always thanked god for the life he’s given me. I have 5 children and 6 grandchildren and everyday I say “Sabu”. ” – Yvonne in the slum of Kombo, in Niamey, Niger.
“In my religion, “jihad” means a struggle to be a better person or a better society. In this particular case, I’m referring to the struggle we are facing to keep our neighbourhood of Kombo. There are plans of destroying our community in order to build hotels on the banks of the river. We will probably have to move to the outskirts of the city, and all be separated and will have to change the way we live. We have been fishing and growing vegetables by the river for generations and my jihad is to do everything I can to keep our neighbourhood still standing.” Karim – 16 years old
Roshenk chose the word “Kurdistan”. She came to Kawergosk Refugee Camp 4 years ago with her family from Dayrik, a city in Syrian Kurdistan, when the civil war reached the region. Roshenk misses her hometown a lot, but she also somehow feels at home here because she is still in Kurdistan. Kurdistan is a large region of the middle east that stretches across 4 countries : Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region seeking total independence. It has its own government, police and of course its own army, the Peshmerga, for who Roshenk’s husband Zakaria fights in Sinjar.
Zakaria is away on duty and Roshenk thought that having the word “Kurdistan” painted on their house would be a good surprise for him when he comes back.
“I’ve always fought for Freedom (AZADI in Kurmanji). During the arab spring I was demonstrating in Damascus for a free Syria. Things got ugly at one point as the Syrian army started firing machines guns around my neighbourhhod. I was on my roof with my daughters and I told them to get down. They were crying but I had to keep a straight face. One day my neighbour, who worked for Bashar Al Assad’s army, came up to me and said that I need to leave straight away because the army wanted to capture me because I was a freedom activist. I called my wife and took my 3 kids and some money, and we left Damascus by bus. Along the way, the police stopped the bus and checked our ID. My kids were all crying and I kept my cool. Somehow, the police checked my ID and let me go. We went to Rojava, the Kurdish region of Syria. But then trouble started in Rojava, bombs started to rain over us, and we had to leave the country and come here to Iraq. I don’t regret anything, freedom is more important than anything.” – Redwan, 41 years old.
“I choose to share the word “JIYAN” (=LIFE in Kurmanji). My family and I left Syria because we wanted to live. It’s as simple as that.”- Hani, 15 years old.
Sameena helped us a lot with the “Muskan” mural by spending hours on small details. For our last wall before we leave Mumbai, she would like us to paint the word “Trust” on the square. I’ve painted 123 words in slums of 10 different countries and it’s the first time I’m going to paint “Trust”. It’s also a great word to describe our relationship with the people of Phule Nagar.
“Respect” was chosen by Abul Rahman in the slum of Phule Nagar.
This is the first wall I’ve ever painted in Tamil. Surya, a tamil woman of Phule Nagar, chose the word “Tamilan” to represent the Tamil people.
So many languages are spoken and written in Mumai. “Kushi” means “happiness” in Urdu, a language close to hindu but written with the arabic script. The word was chosen by Alt Mush.