She was alone, except for a vulture waiting just metres away, waiting for her to breathe her last. Bent at the waist with her forehead resting on the dry, dusty dirt, the Sudanese girl had no more energy to move.
And so he watched and waited for twenty minutes. The right moment came, and he pressed the shutter.
This photo taken by Kevin Carter won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. That very same year, he committed suicide, haunted by the images he saw in the famine-stricken land. Many have criticised and asked why Carter had not lifted a finger to assist the child.
For journalists, there comes a moment when one asks if he or she could have done more for the subject behind the photo or the story. Foreign correspondents who are often based in less-developed countries inevitably face such struggles on a more regular basis.
Last year, on a trip to India for an overseas reporting module, a friend who happen to share the same first name as Carter wondered similarly: Would his work help to alleviate the poverty of the woman he profiled?
The woman had begged for money. “It was easy to part with my rupees, but how far can it go toward helping her?” Kevin asked.
He continued in the same post. “I vaguely remember a note in our exhibition scrapbook from someone who questioned if our work could really help those in dire straits and what impact could it possibly make. It was sore. But we still try.”
And it is this trying after trying that sometimes drives the point across. While the fate of the girl in Carter’s photo will forever remain an unknown, I believe her story made a difference to the survival of many other famine-stricken children.