The photo, which appeared on the National Geographic magazine cover in April 2016, of a nine-year-old girl who spent her early years without a family took on the kind of significance experienced by, say, the Pulitzer Prize-winning image of a dying chimpanzee at the Berlin Zoo. Not only did the image open up the entire world to Kalma, a deeply held ideal of the indomitable human spirit, but it helped draw new attention to issues of child trafficking in Afghanistan, a broken system that is chock-full of women fleeing violence and early marriage.
“First of all, Kalma was not a reporter, she was herself,” Isabel Allende wrote in the profile that appeared in National Geographic. “Second, she had been given a passport and was being taken around Afghanistan by actors [and] a photographer. But the photo was taken by a trusty and generous Afghan photographer who knew no better, who just liked to photograph the tears.”
Last September, Kalma and her mother made their way to Italy. “They started because they couldn’t stay in Afghanistan,” Sahar Khashoggi, the photographer, said in an interview with Italy’s La Repubblica. “There, you have to be over 18, you have to leave your little girl alone for two months. Kalma told us: ‘I will be a street child like a lot of others, I will die.’”
Forgetting the difficult journey from Afghanistan, the family settled in the community of Pizzi Ferrara, near the Italian city of Trieste. She is still living in the city, and will be taking lessons in to write and draw in the coming months.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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