They fled Afghanistan through Iran into Turkey. Then they crossed the Aegean to Greece in two waves. Her father and brother were on the first boat and they arrived safely. But when father returned to for his wife, he was picked up by authorities and accused of being a smuggler. The crime carries a minimum of 10 years in prison. Father languished in a Greek jail for a year while his 4-year-old girl waited for him.
I take this photograph on a sunny day in August. The girl is with her dad again. The charges were dropped and he has just been released. Before I take the photograph, he holds her close. His memory of her was like a small space in his cell that expanded exponentially when invoked. In captivity he re-dreamed his life with his family. Now she writes her name -- Omera --in my notebook in Greek. She is very proud of this.
An hour later her father leaves -- this time to Athens where he hopes to find work. He tells me that this is what it means to be a man. To work and provide. You can see the hole inside the little girl's heart when he rides away. I prefer to remember the moment of her smile -- a perfect innocence. Hardship is always easy to find.