'Afghan Girl': A picture that captures our humanity

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Steven_McLaughlin, Oct 25, 2009.

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  1. I know that this isn’t officially the right forum for me to be posting this picture on, but the more I think about it and the times we’re living in - well the more convinced I am that it’s entirely right. A lot of you will have seen this unforgettable image of the iconic ‘Afghan Girl’ many times – perhaps even for real on dusty foot-patrols through Afghan villages and shattered townships. As for me, I’ve only ever seen it in Athena stores on greeting cards, or on giant posters in WH Smith’s. But she does remind me of the street children that you’d sometimes see in the back alleys of Basra, or on the long desert highways of Iraq, waving at you from the side of the road as you sped past on an escort job. I always used to wonder what kind of a life awaited them…

    Whatever, please check out this picture in the Telegraph and think about it in the context of our current times. I defy you not to be moved by it.

    Steve McCurry's portrait of Sharbat Gula, an Afghan refugee, captivated the world after appearing on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic magazine

  2. National Geographic ran a programme a few years ago where the Photographe went back to meet up with the present day girl. Was around 2000 or 2001.
  3. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    She's still there IIRC

    History or one of the discovery channels did a follow up "The girl with the Blue eyes" again IIRC

    Google is wise


    Her name was Sharbat Gula, which means "sweetwater flower girl" in Pashtu, the language of her Pashtun tribe. But McCurry, and the world, wouldn't know this or any other details of her tragic life until 17 years later.

    Sharbat Gula came to Pakistan in 1983 after her parents were both killed in a Soviet air raid on their Afghan village. She had trudged through the jagged mountains in winter for nearly two weeks with her grandmother, brother, and three sisters. She had lived in several refugee camps before coming to the one where McCurry met her.

    McCurry said the photo of her "summed up for me the trauma and plight, and the whole situation of suddenly having to flee your home and end up in refugee camp, hundreds of miles away."

    In the years after the photo was published, McCurry attempted several times to find Sharbat Gula again, but to no avail. A trip to Pakistan in January 2002 finally bore fruit. He returned to the same refugee camp, still open, and showed her photo around. A man who had lived in that camp as a child recognized the girl and told McCurry he knew her brother. He would go and get her.

    Afghanistan has known precious few days of peace since the 1979 Soviet invasion. But years ago, during a lull in the country's many conflicts, Sharbat Gula had returned home to her village in the Tora Bora region. Now, after three days of hiking, the man from the camp returned with her and her family.
  4. In 1977 an Afghan boy stood on one of my ringpulls, we were sitting drinking beer waiting for the border crossing to open to go into Iran, he bled like a pig so I put a couple of stitches in his foot and gave him Jock Watsons flipflops, his father was one of the Afghan Custom officers, and he thanked me. I have always wondered what happened to him, he was a cheeky little shite and could speak quite good English
  5. In 1483 I single handedly rode to Iran on a Donkey, and saved the world, with one arm tied behind my back, and only a plastic fork to my name.

    Only to find out that Tropper had beaten me to it by a week, and he had done it blindfolded!
  6. Thanks for that brilliant link Boy Syrup, and thanks for sharing that story with us Tropper66 - I can well see how that chance encounter with that cheeky but charming mite will stay with you always. I think lots of soldiers have been touched in similar ways down the years - even the self-styled tough guys!

    Sad to say it looks as though she's lived a hard life and known some troubles - old before her time almost. But those incredible eyes still burn with the same luminous blue/green intensity, and her childhood image will always remind us of what it means to be simply vulnerable and human, no matter what our race or creed.

  7. After a long overland trip, he came in through Dover hidden in the back of a truck and is now living on benefits in Deptford.
  8. Did the run across Europe, crossed to the Irish republic, crossed the 'non existent' border into NI then into Belfast and waited out the winter trying to befriend a british soldier who was awaiting the 'assasins bullet' on a cold lonely night in Belfast before offering him the delights of 'brotherly b*m love...
  9. Steve McCurry's work is some of the most amazing photography I've ever seen.

    The photograph in this link is, in my opinion, even better than the one National Geographic printed:

  10. Just realised the link takes you to the main page of his website :roll:

    But if you like the famous photo you should take a look at the rest of his work.

    This photograph:

    Attached Files:

  11. Liar.
  12. I still have the scar on my foot, you were the fecker that tried to touch my bottom
  13. Fang_Farrier

    Fang_Farrier LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Remember reading about it. the follow up trip wasn't too easy.
  14. She was a bit of a fitty.