Forced to leave her home in Afghanistan during the Soviet War to a refugee camp in Pakistan, an Afghan refugee became the symbol of the Afghan Conflict and for all Refugees.
At the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in 1984, this photo of Sharbat Gula's was taken by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry. Gula was one of the students in an informal school within the refugee camp; McCurry, rarely given the opportunity to photograph Afghan women, seized the opportunity and captured her image. She was approximately 12 years old at the time.
Although her name was not known, her picture, titled "Afghan Girl", appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic. The image of her face, with a red scarf draped loosely over her head and with her piercing sea-green eyes staring directly into the camera, became a symbol both of the 1980s Afghan conflict and of the refugee situation worldwide. The image itself was named as "the most recognized photograph" in the history of the magazine.Gula was orphaned during the Soviet Union's bombing of Afghanistan and sent to the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan in 1984.
Her village was attacked by Soviet helicopter gunships sometime in the early 1980s. The Soviet strike killed her parents forcing her, her siblings and grandmother to hike over the mountains to the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan.
She married Rahmat Gul in the late 1980s and returned to Afghanistan in 1992. Gula had three daughters: Robina, Zahida, and Alia. A fourth daughter died in infancy. Gula has expressed the hope that her girls will receive the education she was never able to complete.