Steve McCurry took some of the most iconic images of our time. He spent his whole life traveling the World, meeting people, and telling compelling stories with his stunning pictures. In these series of videos he shares some of the lessons he learnt on that exciting journey.
Pashtun by ethnicity, Gula's parents were killed during the Soviet Union's bombing of Afghanistan when she was around six years old. Along with her grandmother, brother, and three sisters, she walked across the mountains to Pakistan and ended up in the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan in 1984.
She got married to Rahmat Gul, her husband, between the age of 13-16, and returned to her village in Afghanistan in the mid 1990s. Gula has three daughters. A fourth daughter died in infancy. She expressed hopes that her children will be able to get an education. A devout Muslim, Gula normally would wear a burka and was hesitant to meet with McCurry, as he was a male from outside the family. When asked if she had ever felt safe, she responded "No. But life under the Taliban was better. At least there was peace and order." Until the National Geographic team found her again, she had never seen the photo of herself as a child. When asked how she had survived, she responded that it was "the will of God". Steve McCurry and Sharbat Gula keep in touch every month.
More recent pictures of Gula were featured as part of a cover story on her life in the April 2002 issue of National Geographic and she 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.
In 2010, the South African photographer Jodi Bieber won the World Press Photo of the Year award for her photograph of Bibi Aisha, an Afghan victim of facial mutilation. In making the photograph, Bibi claimed inspiration from Afghan Girl. "For me, it was putting a moment of history in perspective. It was just one thing that added to the image", she said.
It's worth being aware of her story.