GIRL IN MIRMANDAB |
May 17, 2012
Name: Kyle McNally
Stationed in: Afghanistan
I was on a presence patrol in Mirmandab village, Helmand province. Partnered with Afghan National Security Forces, we were tasked with handing out books and wind-up radios in an effort to promote the Radio Listening Program, which teaches Afghans to read and write through a series of broadcasted lessons.
An education is a commodity in the third world, and we were soon confronted with a frenzy of boys all scrambling to get their RLP gear (it helped, of course, that we enticed them with soccer paraphernalia). Behind the eager faces of the crowd I saw a few girls peering timidly at us from behind a wall. I noticed that one of them was carrying a baby that was almost as big as her. Sensing I should get a shot of her, I raised my camera -- but she was already gone.
After the excitement subsided she reappeared, anxiously watching the RLP books that were now being rifled through by wide-eyed villagers. Again I raised my camera. This time she remained, but abruptly turned her face away.
Looking as disinterested as possible (as I’ve become accustomed to doing for camera-shy Marines) I ambled around the back of the crowd. When I emerged on the other side, the girl had returned her eyes to the books, and when she finally noticed me, my lens was staring back.
I think of all the photos I took that day, none so captured the importance of the RLP’s mission as the photo of the girl. A future is a bleak thing in the third world. Perhaps through education, Afghans, like this girl in Mirmandab, can secure one for themselves.