After disappearing for almost two decades, how would this famous face look if she's still alive?
National Geographic photographer, Steve McCurry, hunts for a beautiful girl he saw 17 years ago. He
snapped this famous photo of her, but didn't get her name. She was young and scared, a refugee
from the war in Afghanistan. He called her, "The Afghan Girl."
She's has become really the icon of the Afghan struggle. Her plight and her situation has really
come to symbolize what's happened here over the last two decades.
In 2001 the war in Afghanistan has the world's attention. McCurry returns to the refugee camps
determined to find the face from long ago. For weeks he roams the streets scouring shops markets
and schools. The photograph is his only clue.
His search proves harder than he thought. In this conservative Muslim society, grown
women must wear veils. If still alive, the girl would now be about 30, her stunning face hidden from
After weeks of looking, McCurry's run out of hope and time. We have a lot of leads still coming in,
but I'm gonna have to leave today. We went through the camp exhaustively looking and talking to as
many people as possible. We've given it our best shot.
But shortly after McCurry leaves, an Afghan refugee approaches the TV crew. He says he knows the
girl from the photo. But the woman now lives hours away, near Tora Bora, across a border that
The man agrees to bring her to a nearby home. Three days later she arrives, but there's a hitch --
local custom dictates only a woman may enter inside. Associate Producer, Carrie Regan, goes
forward alone. I remember walking into this back room and there were women sitting around the
floor and they gestured to this figure in the back corner and she looked up and I saw these gleaming
bright eyes. And for the first time, I thought, you know, we might just have something here. We
might just have the Afghan girl.
There's one way to know for sure, a new technology called iris mapping. Carrie snaps a photo which
is rushed to a lab in the States. There experts compare the eyes of the woman with those of the girl.
The colored part of the eye is called the iris. The computer maps its subtle pattern. It's as
distinctive as a fingerprint, and these two sets match. The Afghan girl now has a name, Sharbat
Gula. For years she's lived in poverty in Afghanistan's countryside, oblivious to her fame around the
world. McCurry races back hoping to photograph Sharbat once again, but one obstacle still remains,
Sharbat's a conservative Muslim now married with three children... Will she be willing to drop her
It's hard for Shabbat to understand that she's an icon to the outside world. McCurry talks with her
and her husband explaining that this will bring attention to the plight of the Afghan people.
Reluctantly she agrees to the request. As he sets up the shot, Sharbot drops her veil. The famous
eyes flashed defiantly, again capturing the attention of the entire world.
Sharbat's face reveals the sorrow of war, but for McCurry, it sends a message of both courage and
(The) fact that she's lifted up her burqa and revealed her face to the world, essentially, is sort of a
These adventurers have traveled beyond time and boundaries to make amazing discoveries that
broaden our understanding of the world.
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