In a story similar to the famous “Afghan Girl” photograph by Steve McCurry and the efforts National Geographic followed to track her down in 2002, the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paolo has found the girl whose photograph was the cover of Sebastião Salgado’s book “Terra”.
Joceli Borges was 5 years old in 1996 when Salgado made the portrait along a highway in Brazil. Borges, 21, lives now with her husband and daughter in a Landless Worker’s Movement camp near Iguaçu Falls, on the Brazil-Argentina border. Read the original article for more details about Borges’ life: “Girl immortalized in a photo by Sebastião Salgado is still landless” (in Portugues), or click here for a Google Translation to English.
I first saw this photograph in another of Salgado’s books, “The Children”, featuring portraits of children from around the world. Like McCurry’s photograph of Sharbat Gula, the picture of Joceli Borges lept out at me from the pages of the book when I was in the University of Washington library, and it has long been one of my favorite portraits, for reasons I cannot quite explain. I always felt I could see both a girl and a woman who had already lived a life of struggle in the very same eyes, the two people flashing together with the same face. It seems it has come true, sadly.