A very special artist in a 5-star tent

It was 45 degrees Celsius and I was walking around in one of the many IDP camps in Iraq. In this setting I met a very special artist, living in a 5-star tent.

Tent number 128
Painted tent cloth: "Smile, nobody care how you feel..."
Painted tent cloth: “Smile, nobody care how you feel…”

When I started writing this blog I got caught up in trying to explain the history of Iraq and the many wars it has suffered. To give the facts on the numbers of people who are affected. And explaining the needs of everyone who still lost their homes. But then I realised I am not writing this blog for our donors to justify where the funds ended up. I am writing this blog because I met a very special artist who touched my heart in his 5-star tent.

When approaching his tent with number 128, I could already see it belongs to someone special. The toilet wall is painted with green and yellow graffiti. And on the tent cloth is written:

Smile, nobody care how you feel…

A man sitting in the doorway waves with a big smile and welcomes me in.

Mohammed in his 5-star tent

His name is Mohammed. I can see he is not able to walk; since his childhood his legs has been paralysed. Mohammed begins to tell, in English, that he lost his whole family. That he was working in Bagdad, to help the US military in the Iraq war. That he lost everything, and ended up here. He is having one friend in the camp, who helped to get him an air water cooler. I can’t even imagine how it must be in summer, where temperatures reach above 50 degrees Celsius, to live in a tent without any cooling. And that you have lost everything else…

Mohammed proudly showing his self made army truck
Self made miniature versions of army vehicles
The vehicles even decorate his toilet (sorry, as WASH specialist you always take pictures of latrines, and this is a good one)

But then I realise that Mohammed didn’t lost his creativity. He proudly shows me a miniature version of an army tank. It’s amazingly detailed. Built by himself. We move from the doorway to his inner tent, and there I admire another dozen of army vehicles. I can see he put all his passion into it.

After we talked for some time I need to presume my monitoring visit. Mohammed asks for my facebook page. I type my name on his phone and his eyes lit up when our old Volkswagen van shows up as a background picture. “You also love cars!”, he sais enthusiastically. He is rushing himself to grab something out of a bag. “I have a special gift for you”, and he pushes a small green old-timer car into my hands. He insisted me to keep it, so I would never forget him.

Mohammed is wishing to get a water tap in house, so it’s easier to wash himself. And he dreams of moving to Canada, as he doesn’t feel at home in Iraq anymore. He also wants to get married, with someone who understands his suffering and loves him despite everything.

I will never forget this special artist who touched my heart in his 5-star tent.

The artist in the five-start tent

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog are solely ours and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any organisation.


5 thoughts on “A very special artist in a 5-star tent

  1. This is amazing. The words touch my heart in every way.
    What a strong male to go through this and to have so much faith. His art is amazing and his words are beautiful.
    We wish him to have a water two to wash, to travel to Canada with a wide to whom understand him no matter what. I have so much faith in him, I will also share this on FB to share this forxall.

    Liked by 1 person

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