During our week in Brussels, we planned to visit the four main sections of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, where we would see large collections of works by Belgian artists ranging from the 16th Century up to the current day. But even before making the trip to these museums, we unexpectedly and fortuitously stumbled upon several smaller art exhibits in locations close to our apartment rental that were fascinatingly varied and interesting.
In the documentary, McCurry describes how he initially spotted the girl in the tent of a makeshift school within an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan. He was told that she had walked through snowy mountains for two weeks to reach the camp after her parents were killed when their village was bombed. In 2002, he traveled back to that refugee camp, which was about to be demolished to build a housing project. McCurry showed his iconic photo to the local people in hopes of locating the girl. Finding the former teacher at the camp, he was led to a woman who looked quite a bit like the girl. But his expert resources determined that the eyes did not match and this was not the right person. Continuing the search, the team finally located the right woman when they found her brother. Her name is Sharbat Gula and she had moved back to Afghanistan where she lived with her husband and three daughters. Gula recalled the photo shoot and described several facts that corresponded to McCurry’s memories of the event. She explained that she was wearing the red shawl with holes in it that had been burned that day while cooking, that she was the last one to be photographed and that there was a lot of sunlight that day. This time, when the experts examined her photograph, they confirmed that Sharbat Gula was the same person as the one in the photo taken by Steve McCurry all those years ago. The Afghan girl had been found.
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, and it was well worth the effort.