Thailand Refugee Camp February 2010 on the Burma Border – Canon PowerShot G10 f/4.5 30mm ISO 200
Have you ever taken an image of someone you don’t know? Was that image taken a long time ago? And when you look at that image again do you ask yourself, “I wonder where she is now? Is she still alive?” That’s the story of this image. She was in a refugee camp in NW Thailand, February 2010. When I look at the image it propels me back; it seems like yesterday. Young, innocent, and beautiful in a big place that was not. Her eyes were soulful with a hint of apprehension and curiosity. My young girl is not the “Afghan Girl” made famous by Steve McCurry and National Geographic (here), but she is none the less real.
We were there to bring gifts, hope, and knowledge. We were restricted in what we could bring into the camp. It seemed as if, “Just someone to talk with from the outside.” was a welcomed treat. I was humbled that regardless of what meager food they had – we were expected to eat something; we did.
The “decoration” on her face is decoration, but much more than that. The product is Thanakha, a pounded paste from tree pulp wood. Thanakha is used to cool and refresh the skin. It’s used as sunscreen and we were told it repels insects. It is worn mostly by children of both sexes and then by adult women. Since they wear Thanakha for protection they also make it decorative.
I hate to say, this image was a hit and run, “No cameras allowed in the refugee camp!” I had, at the time, a big Nikon D200 body and lenses with me that stayed in the truck. My small backup camera was a Canon Power Shot G10. I felt somewhat guilty about breaking the rules, but not enough — I got the images I wanted.
We still have a connection with a missionary that lives in Thailand. He still visits the camps. He does not keep a record of the specific people he sees; he does not know where this little girl has gone or if she is alive. I hope she is. I recently had a solo photography show at the Liriodendron Manson in Bel Air, Maryland – Here – a photographer friend of mine, Dave Gigliotti, asked if he could take a photo of me next to one of my favorite images. Here This was the image I chose. When you are touched by a young, innocent, beauty – your soul is connected by a Memory, a Story, Stopped in Time.
Up to Date Info on the Refugee Camp. HERE