In the fall of 2007 I was in Nepal, trekking to Everest and then over to Gokyo. While hiking around the catacombs of Namche, a village at roughly 11,000 feet, you eventually have no choice but to ascend a great irregular staircase that rises up hundreds of feet through the hillside town – it is their Main Street.
I had my camera in hand and was just taking pictures of interesting odd subjects; yak dung patties thrown against the walls of homes to dry, Tibetan rugs be scrubbed on top of corrugated roofs, a mangy cat or two – and then this small girl walked by with her grandmother. I was leaning against a wall that was quite a distance from her (perhaps that’s why she didn’t ham for the camera) and with my 70-200mm lens captured this image in a single lucky shot.
In the spring of 2012, I was again in Namche. But this time I brought copies of this image on postcards, asking the local shop owners if they knew this girl. Namche is very small – perhaps only a few hundred residents – and I thought someone would know her name and point me to her home. I wanted to get another picture of her as she had grown. Nobody knew her, and I never did see her again.
I later learned of a great problem in Nepal that pertains to the trafficking of young girls for the sex slave industry in India and Saudi Arabia, that they are often sold to child brokers for as little as $10 with the false promises that the girls will be married off to a rich man or work in a good factory and send money home to their families. These are lies. They end up in the HIV infected brothels of Mumbai or as slaves/servants in the wealthy Middle East nations.
I like to think that she is just in another village, or that she was shipped to Kathmandu for school. It is also why I support the Himalayan Foundations Stop Girl Trafficking program. It is a simple way to ensure girls are not used as commodities and instead educated through high school. Learn more about how you can help click here.
See more of Rob Hart’s award-winning images here.