Meet Ismail and Shalal, our gardeners in the Azadi Community Garden

The Azadi Community Garden in Domiz 1 camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is run by a small team of gardeners headed up Aveen, our Operations Manager.

We asked team members Ismail and Shalal (pictured below) some questions about their work in the garden and their favourite plants.

Shalal and Ismail sitting in the Azadi Community Garden, Domiz 1 camp, Kurdistan
Left to right: Ismail and Shalal


“I’m Ismail, a Syrian refugee. I live with my family in Domiz 1 camp in Kurdistan.

I love the people who work in the Azadi Community Garden because we have become like a family here. Every day in the garden is interesting and full of activity and vitality. It’s a place where people can relax and I enjoy every single day I work here.

I love to grow everything! While there is little water, we have recently planted a pine tree and I like gori (rose) flowers because they smell beautiful.”

انا اسماعيل, لاجىء سوري اعيش مع عائلتي في مخيم دوميز 1 في دهوك.

انا احب الأشخاص الموجودين في الحديقة ازادي لاننا صرنا مثل عائلة و انا استمتع كل يوم في هذه الحديقة.

يومي في حديقه ازادي ممتع ومليء بالنشاط وحيويه وايضآ الحديقة تعطينا الراحة.

احب ان ازرع كل شيء, لكن الماء قليل, برغم من هذا  هناك شجرة صنوبر زرعناها! احب أزهار الجوري لأن رائحتها جميله جدا.


“My name is Shalal. I’m originally from Syria and now I live in Domiz 2 camp with my wife and daughter.

The thing I enjoy most about my work is pruning plants in the Azadi Community Garden and taking care of them until they grow and become ready to be distributed to our beneficiaries. I also enjoy watering the garden.

Starting my day with gardening activity gives me vitality. I like growing indoor plants at home and taking care of them with my family.

My favourite plant is the gori (rose), because it is successful when pruned and cultivated, and it has medicinal benefits.”

انا شلال لاجىء من سوريا, اعيش في دوميز 2 مع زوجتي وابنتي .اكثر شيء استمتع به في عملي تقليم النباتات الموجوده في الحديقه والاعتناء بها لتصبح نبته ناجحه وتوزيعها على المستفيدين .ابدا يومي في الحديقه بنشاط وحيويه واستمتاع بسقايه الحديقه .زراعه النباتات الداخليه في المنزل والاعتناء بها مع العائله .نباتي المفضل هو الجوري لانه نبات ناجح عند اثناء تقليمه وزراعته وله فواءد طبيه


We have awarded prizes to 72 winning gardens in our 2021 Lemon Tree Trust (LTT) annual garden competitions. LTT competitions took place in a record nine camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), despite ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. Winners have received cash prizes and gifts of seeds and plants, and all participants have received certificates.  … Continued

Land restoration in refugee camps and wider communities has enormous potential to enhance the living conditions of forcibly displaced people and the ecosystems of war-torn regions. To coincide with the official launch of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and World Environment Day on 5 June 2021, we were delighted to take part in a ‘Refugees and Restoration’ roundtable … Continued

Ahmed Ibrahim Ismail lives in the Azar neighbourhood of Domiz 2 camp. “I have a humble garden in my house, and I started working on it with my children two years ago. We have spent many good times in it, especially during the curfew for the coronavirus.⁣  ⁣“My garden contains 20 different types of roses and … Continued