People

Tala

I took a beautiful photo of this girl at a demonstration on the road from Greece to Macedonia. It was an impactful sit-in. They occupied the highway for about 14 hours, preventing all travel on that road to Macedonia. They seemed to say that if they weren’t allowed into Macedonia, neither was anybody else. There were heated moments of the demonstration, both from the heat and confrontations with Greek drivers. None of the Greek drivers were responsible for the refugees’ predicament, but this was the only place they could be heard.

Politics politics politics.

Tala was about four years old and didn’t understand any of this. A friend and I sat off to the side of the road, and Tala walked over to see us. Her hair was in two small pigtails on either side of her head, and she was shy. Despite being all smiles, we would ask her to come over but she would shy away giggling after a couple steps.

When we thought we were successful in bringing her over, she would walk past us, towards the line of police officers in riot gear. They were there to keep the peace – and were doing a good job; they were not adversaries here – but it concerned us initially. She walked right up to the line of police officers. Standing about four feet from them, she stopped and stared.

She lost interest in them and turned around. She did this several times. One time, with her blanket in her left hand, he raised her right hand towards them.

Police officers with riot shields are a formidable sight, and they know they are meant to be a brick wall.  All of them looked away from Tala. If they were to look at a smiling girl for more than two seconds, they would too smile. So the four-year-old stood in front of them, arm raised, as they all looked away.

She turned around a final time and came to us. I don’t know what she was laughing about, but she was happy. In the picture I got of her, her bright face was walking toward us as the police looked away in the background.

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She was a happy girl that day. She got to explore a new world with new people. She was in complete safety.

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