Is rebel a strong enough word to portray Maria's strength, determination and boldness, surrounded by a terror regime, known for their brutality against women, to find her way toward freedom? Maria's story is one that compelled me to approach her for "Woman". She is the kind of woman that creates and inspires change. I met Maria several times before our recent shoot. She is quiet in demeanor, exuding strength and confidence, articulate and intelligent, and on a mission to empower young girls to reach their full potential. During our shoot, I was taken back by another aspect of Maria's character that not only surprised me, but touched me. Despite the adversity, despite a culture that is behind in its outlook and actions with women, and despite the reproach and the death threats, Maria has respect. Respect for her country and her people. Respect within her actions. Respect for how she presents herself. Maria told me that she feels she will have more influence on the change she envisions for the girls and women of her country with this approach of respect. Awesome.
For Maria's story go to www.mariatoorpakai.org
Image: Copyright Clee Images