Sunday, September 20, 2009

#23: Most-Interesting Story Behind a Great Postcard From Afghanistan

he back of the postcard reads: "Afghanistan: Tattered clothing and fear-filled eyes of an Afghan refugee reveal war-zone trauma".
It is an old vintage postcard of the era of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and as far as I remember the above photo of a young Afghan girl with hypnotizing deep sea-green eyes was featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine, June 1985 issue. Photographer Steve McCurry took the shot at Nasir Bagh Refugee Camp in Pakistanduring December 1984, while Afghanistan was still at war with the huge Soviet Union. She was among the many faces that McCurry photographed.

Her photo was later selected for the magazine's cover. There was NO name to the fa
ce though.

Seventeen years later, McCurry joined a National Geographic Television crew on a journey through Pakistan and Afghanistan to search for the ‘cover girl’. There were questions to be answered: Did she survive the war? If she’s alive, she’d probably have returned to Afghanistan and be in her late 20s or early 30s.

The name of the girl was a secret till now. The team started their journey from Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan where the initial photo was shot in 1984. The team found her to be living in a remote region in Afghanistan. Her identity was confirmed using Biometric technology which matched her IRIS patterns to those of the photograph with almost full certainty. She vividly recalled being photographed.

The fame and symbolic character of her portrait were completely unknown to her. Modern pictures of her were featured as part of a cover story on her life in the April 2002 issue of National Geographic and was the subject of a television documentary entitled Search for the Afghan Girl, which aired in March 2002. In recognition of her, National Geographic set up the Afghan Girls Fund, a charitable organization with the goal of educating Afghan girls and young women. In 2008, the scope of the fund was broadened to include boys and the name was changed to Afghan Children's Fund.

So here is the photo of the cover of National Geographic Magazine, April 2002 Issue just for your interest:


Sheila said...

What a stunning image and, sadly, still telling the same story today. A wonderful card to have in your collection, and the follow up story is amazing too.

Trupti said...

I actually have BOTH National Geographic issues pictured here; what a great story eh?

Jenni said...

What a story - but an amazing postcard picture!

kazinhabueno said...

Great post! I already know this history, and I think it must be so nice to receive a postcard with a good history, like this one ;) said...

Great,I want to exchange this postcard with Indian picture postcards.My mail id--

Anonymous said...

what a great card and what a sad story... She has such special eyes. It is such a shame she couldn't use them to express joy :(