Child sponsorship through the eyes of a photographer | ActionAid UK

Lorenzo Tugnoli is a documentary photographer based in Kabul, Afghanistan, who takes photographs for ActionAid. His work has been published by The New York Times, Le Monde and Time Magazine, to name a few, and he has just published The Little Book of Kabul, on the city's artistic scene.

Read our interview with Lorenzo below and find out why this photo of Zakia is one of his favourites, and how you can help give children like Zakia a better future.

Zakia, 7, sits with her mother and some of her brothers and sisters in their dark, one-room mud house. Bamyan province, Afghanistan
Zakia, 7, sits with her family in their dark, one-room mud house in Bamyan province, Afghanistan

Can you tell me a little about this picture?

I took this photograph in a small village in the province of Bamyan in central Afghanistan. I travelled there with ActionAid to photograph and interview children living in poverty who could benefit from child sponsorship.

Zakia is seven years old and she lives with her mother, four sisters and one brother in a small mud house in the mountains. Her father died of respiratory infection last year and since then the family has been struggling to survive. Women cannot work in rural Afghanistan and the only breadwinner in the family is Zakia’s 15-year-old brother Shamsullah, who gets casual work for farmers in the village.

Can you describe how you took this photo?

The family really welcomed me. I spent time with them in their house and listened to their story. Zakia is a really sweet little girl. In the beginning she was a little intimidated by the camera and being photographed, but after time she got used to me.

Zakia was not used to saying much. Girls of her age are not often asked their opinion in Afghanistan and I think she enjoyed having this strange foreigner asking her questions.

Tell us about a memorable moment in your career

This is a really memorable moment in my career. I just finished working on a two-year book project: The Little Book of Kabul. The book is about Kabul city in Afghanistan and some of the artists living there. I really enjoyed taking more time to spend with my subjects. Often in photojournalism there is not the chance to get to know our subjects and to establish a bond that can make you understand more about their lives.

Give a future to a child like Zakia

When Lorenzo asked Zakia what she eats for breakfast or lunch he says her answer was always the same: “bread, sometime tea”. He asked her about school: “I liked going to school, I liked the books and the pens, I would like to become a teacher, I would like to teach maths”.

Zakia did go to school for a few weeks, but after her father died she had to stop going to stay at home and help her mum. She never completed her first year. For now, she can’t read or write, or even count. And because she stays at home she says she doesn’t have any friends.

Child sponsorship can help a little girl like Zakia, and her whole family. It can help them eat more nutritious food, and pay for Zakia to go to school, so she can learn to read and write, make friends, and maybe become a teacher one day.

There are thousands of children in need of sponsorship, like Zakia.

Please help give one of them the chance of a better future, by sponsoring a child now.



Lorenzo’s The Little Book of Kabul is now being presented in London and New York. Follow LBofK on Twitter.