The most penetrating look of the 20th century.
The picture, taken by Steve McCurry, illustrated the National Geographic magazine cover on June 1985. She was only known as the afghan girl. She was twelve and, in 1984, lived in the Nasir Bagh refugee camp (Pakistan). Nothing else was known.
McCurry himself and a National Geographic team tried to locate her again for 17 years, until they found her in 2002, now a married woman, mother of three children, living in a remote region of Afghanistan. Only then they knew her name: Sharbat Gula. No one has ever taken another picture of her, and she was totally unaware about her famous first and only portrait.
Today, Sharbat Gula has returned to anonymity. “She will not give another media interview and she wishes not to be contacted.” Asked if Sharbat would benefit financially from her famous image, National Geographic said she was “being looked after.”
National Geographic Society keeps a fund in her honor to help and educate afghan children and women. Contributions can be made online to the National Geographic Afghan Girls Fund or by sending a check directly to the National Geographic Afghan Girls Fund, Development Office, National Geographic Society, 1145 17th Street N.W., Washington, D.C., 20036.