In 2006 and 2007 I was on assignment for the National Geographic Magazine for a story on the Hazaras of Afghanistan. I traveled west of Bamiyan City to a small village near the lakes at Band-e-Amir, Afghanistan’s first national park.
I was visiting a school when I photographed this boy, Ali Aqa, who wants to grow up and be a lawyer. When the story was published, many people around the world wanted to help him achieve his dream, but it has taken years to find him.
His family is poor, his clothes used, but 15-year-old Ali Aqa isn’t deterred: He plans to be a lawyer. Childhood memories include Taliban occupation of his village in Bamiyan. “They burned everything, even my school,” he says. “I pray to God no regime comes like that again.” We have now located him with the help of the UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan) and school officials. We are in the process of working with local educators to help him prepare to start his college education when he graduates from high school next year.
There is nothing more gratifying than helping people whom I have photographed because most often, it is impossible to locate them again.