baghdad

On the Road to Reconstruction with Imprint of Hope

On the road to reconstruction in Baghdad, with volunteer teams from the Imprint of Hope organisation, who have spent over 15 days, doing up the replica Assyrian city gate and the land surrounding it.

From the early hours until late into the night, work included redeveloping the gardens surrounding the gate, trimming the palm trees, washing and removing old paint from the gate, before applying fresh layers to the structure.

This ongoing campaign, is a small but starting point, to recreate both hope and positivity in Iraqi society and Imprint of Hope will continue to reflect this bright image, which in the past has made Iraq truly great.

Since it was founded, Imprint of Hope has painted hundreds of blast walls across Baghdad. It has swelled to more than 370 volunteers from a range of backgrounds, including students, carpenters, iron-smiths, artists and doctors.

In addition to decorating the city’s walls, Imprint of Hope also paints orphanages, nurseries and public buildings, including a children’s cancer hospital.

Last December for Christmas, Imprint of Hope painted the Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church, which was heavily damaged in a 2010 terror attack. They also painted murals on the blast walls, that were set up to protect the church from further attacks.

IRAQ. Baghdad governorate. Karrada. July 9, 2016. Asal Ahmed, 4, is carried by her father at the scene of a massive suicide bomb attack that killed more than 320 people, making it the second most lethal suicide bombing in Iraqi history. Asal and her mother were badly burned as they shopped for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Karrada is one of Baghdad’s most religiously diverse districts, with a Shia majority and a significant Christian population made of various sects. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Photograph: Hadi Mizban/AP

March 11, 1917 - Fall of Baghdad

Pictured - Maude enters the city of the caliphs.

The Allied war against the Turks had swung favorably. British and Imperial forced gained momentum at the beginning of 1917, overrunning Ottoman outposts near Gaza and then, in Mesopotamia, the ancient Persian capital of Ctesiphon. The ultimate objective of Britain’s Palestine campaign was Jerusalem, on March 11 they completed another historic victory to the east when Baghdad fell.

The last Turkish defenders, under Khalil Pasha, evacuated the city that day, ceding it to 45,000 triumphant British and Indian troops, who entered the city with General Maude riding at their head. German officers blew up the radio station before they left, although the British did capture six brand new airplanes, freshly delivered to the Turks.

The Imperial soldiers entering the ancient city received a bewildering reception: “Persians dressed like Joseph in long silken coats of many colours; red-fezzed oriental Jews in misfit European clothing; handsome Armenian refugees who had spent the night huddled in Christian churches, fearful of their fate if any of the fleeing Turks learned of their existence; lordly turbaned Muslims in black flowing robes - all turned out to cheer them as they tramped in through the Southern Gate. It was a gala display a fiesta - something that had not taken place when Townshend’s men had tottered painfully through the same streets.” Townshend’s forces had been captured at Kut the year before and led on a painful death march to Anatolia, where those who survived still languished.

Englishmen ignorant of history must have been astounded by the city, but others far off reckoned the symbolic value of their victory. “That’s the end of the German dream of domination in the Near East,” recorded British orientalist Gertrude Bell. “Their place is not going to be in the sun.”