Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Afghan Girl: Then and Now

You may not remember the 1985 cover of National Geographic depicting a young Afghan Girl, but it sparked a lot of attention back then. A few years ago the photographer sought out this girl and found her 17 years later. This story is from 2002 but still interesting, part of the story follows.

The young Afghan refugee who stared from the cover of National Geographic in June 1985 was an enigma for 17 years. What was her name? Had she survived? This past January photographer Steve McCurry joined a crew from National Geographic Television & Film to methodically search for her. They showed her photograph around the refugee camp in Pakistan where McCurry had encountered her as a schoolgirl in December 1984. Finally, after some false leads, a man who had also lived in the camp as a child recognized her. Yes, she was alive. She had left the camp many years before and was living in the mountainous Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. He said he could find her, and three days later he and a friend brought her back to the camp. There, the remarkable story of this woman, Sharbat Gula, began to be told. Take a look at the attached pictures and you might remember the face. Life in Afghanistan was none too kind to this woman as she aged over the years. George Stutevillefor National Geographic News September 9, 2002 Since Sharbat Gula, the Afghan girl with the fierce green eyes, was "rediscovered" earlier this year, her story has moved thousands of people to contribute nearly half a million dollars to a fund established to prove the lives of girls and young women in her war-ravaged country. The portrait of Sharbat staring from the cover of National Geographic in 1985 touched millions of people around the world and
became a well-known icon.

Behind the Search for the "Afghan Girl" http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/03/0311_020312_sharbat.html

A Life Revealed http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0204/feature0/index.html

Afghan Girl's Story Sparks School-Fund Donations http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/04/0425_020426_sharbatupdate1.html

The photographer who took the famous picture tracked her down after 17 years, and she appeared again on the cover of National Geographic last April. So many readers were eager to help Gula's family and others like them that the National Geographic Society joined with The Asia Foundation in creating the special fund. By last week, about 5,600 donors had given $475,368 to the fund, including a $100,000 gift from the Society, said Mark Longo, director of development operations for the National Geographic Society.The money, he noted, is already being used to establish the National Geographic Society Girls Education and Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan. The center will provide educational opportunities that were denied to Sharbat but which she said she wants desperately for her own three daughters, Longo explained. "It was Sharbat's desire and her wish that we use the funds specifically for this purpose. She knows about our efforts and is pleased," he said. The daily life of women and children in Afghanistan has been disrupted by decades of turmoil stemming from a bloody invasion by the former Soviet Union, violent civil strife, and the crushing ideology of the Taliban.

Back in present day Afghanistan; I am still working too much. Such is life here. I did a couple trips this week to do tours for a General along with a working trip to identify construction projects we are working on for the Afghans.

We have received in a lot of new people to CJ4 and so I have been spending time with them to get them integrated into the team. It is nice to get more resources of course it will be short lived as a bunch of people are rotating out next month. For now we are a little crowded, soon we will be short staffed as more will be leaving than coming. This will make it a little tougher around here.

I found the internet cafe, more like a room with some computer stations. I am trying to find the time to set up my camera so I can do a webcam with Rebecca and the kids. I also need to get some pictures sent home so Rebecca can post them. I am sure I will get around to it.

Back on the homefront, Rebecca and the kids are busy as ever. Our nieces left and are travelling the Northern route back to Boston. I heard they went to Salt Lake (said it smelled) and also went to see Mount Rushmore. I have never been to Mount Rushmore, I will have to put it on my list. The kids are busy in summer camps and having a fun summer. The two of them keep growing. Madigan is now tall enough to ride the "Indiana Jones" ride at Disney and she lost her second tooth. Thomas is now tall enough for the "Maliboomer" at California Adventure and his belly button now reaches the top of the pool table at home. This was a rule that Rebecca had as a child, you could not use a pool cue until your belly button reached the top of the pool table. I guess I will have to teach Thomas what little I know of pool when I get back. Also his shoe size is now a 4, when I left I think he was a size 2. Time flies, can't wait to see them at Christmas.

Peace to you all,


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