Our World

School girl walking in abandoned building.

A Perilous Ascent

School girl walking in abandoned building.

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Nuru Project’s blog on June 21, 2012.

Producer Cooper Miller and I met yesterday to flesh out a video he is creating for Nuru Project. We brainstormed single terms about each of his favorite Nuru images, including Lana Slezic’s print, which has drawn comparisons to M.C. Escher drawings.

Cooper suggested the terms ascent and peril. That Slezic’s girl is walking up stairs whlie returning to school after the fall of the Taliban suggests both her ascendancy and the difficulty of what lies ahead. Cooper also noted that we have an unimpeded view of the girl because there are no guard rails. Her path is perilous. She could easily fall off. And yet she strides confidently upward through her bombed-out shell of a school.

To celebrate the launch of Slezic’s print, we bring you a second dose of reflection from friend of Nuru Project and former Deputy Editor of CFR.org, Jayshree Bajoria:

You won’t allow me to go to school.
I won’t become a doctor.
Remember this:
One day you will be sick.

This is a rubaiyat (Arabic word for a Quatrain) addressed to the Taliban by Lima, a 15-year old girl living in Kabul. I read it in this wonderful piece by Eliza Griswold. When I saw this print by Lana Slezic, it was Lima who first came to mind. The photograph reminded me of the same spirit that I heard in Lima’s defiant poem. For me, the photo is a powerful depiction of courage and hope amid war and destruction; I see determination in this little girl’s step even as I take in the haunting desolation of the abandoned building.

- Jayshree

Jayshree Bajoria is former Deputy Editor of CFR.org, the website of the New York-based think tank, Council on Foreign Relations. She is also a mean bhangra dancer.

Click here to buy Lana Slezic’s print, and if you’d like, select Acumen Fund as your non-profit of choice to receive 50% of the proceeds. To read about Acumen Fund’s newly launched Education Portfolio, which aims to expand access to high-quality learning and employability services for the poor, click here.


JB Reed is the co-founder of Nuru Project. The Southerner in the mix, JB sadly has no charming accent, but is a damn good photographer. His images have appeared in The New York Times, Bloomberg News, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and the International Herald Tribune. In 2004, JB was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to document youths living in the Mathare Valley slums of Nairobi, Kenya. The resulting images were featured in multiple gallery exhibitions and won an award from the National Press Photographers Association. The experience fueled his belief that photography can be an agent for social change and led him to co-found Nuru Project.


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