‘If I even take a few days off, then my family will suffer’

A young Iraqi Kurd feels the pressure to support his parents and siblings.

An illustration the hood of a car open with someone standing over it looking, checking or fixing it with a long receipt coming out from under the hood of the car.
[Jawahir Al-Naimi and Muaz Kory/Al Jazeera]
[Jawahir Al-Naimi and Muaz Kory/Al Jazeera]

What's your money worth? A series from the front line of the cost-of-living crisis, where people who have been hit hard share their monthly expenses.

Name: Mumen Barzanji

Age: 24

Occupation: taxi driver

Lives with: father Najat (67), mother Sadria (55), brothers Ahmed (26) and Dawan (12), and sister Lavan (32). Ahmed, who works in IT infrastructure, and Mumen support their family.

Lives in: a two-storey house where Mumen has lived since birth. It is on a quiet street on the outer edges of Erbil, the capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region. Mumen does not have his own bedroom, and usually sleeps on a mattress under the stairs in the living room on the ground floor. Occasionally, he sleeps on the roof, where it is almost possible to see the city’s historic citadel.

Monthly household income: In April, Mumen and Ahmed’s combined income was 2,143,100 Iraqi dinars ($1,614 at the official rate, which has been used in this article, and $1,478 using the street value – about 1,450 dinars to the US dollar in May – which most people can access and use).

Mumen took home 693,100 dinars ($522), a combination of earning 471,250 dinars ($355) from the Careem taxi app he works for, which deducts roughly a fifth of his earnings for using the service, and an extra 221,850 dinars ($167) for taking passengers on longer trips to the mountains during Eid al-Fitr. As a self-employed taxi driver, Mumen’s income fluctuates. Some months he can earn 548,100 dinars ($413) for driving children to school.

Total expenses for April: 1,976,150 dinars ($1,488), which was spent on household utilities, groceries, fuel for Mumen’s taxi and a costly car repair. Najat also needed medical treatment for his back in April, which coincided with the typically more expensive Muslim month of Ramadan and Eid with the cost of those celebrations and their price hikes. The price of 1kg (2.2 pounds) of sugar, for example, went from 1,250 dinars ($0.94) to 2,000 dinars ($1.51) during Ramadan, Mumen says.

Source: Al Jazeera