A famous Vietnamese photographer has put an end to speculation that his photo of two children that went viral is not from Nepal after the earthquake, saying it was taken in northern Vietnam years ago.
The photo shows the children sitting on the ground and hugging each other, dirt all over their hands and feet. The little girl is clinging to the boy and both of them look scared.
Claimed to be a “Two-year-old sister protected by four-year-old brother in Nepal,” the photo has been shared widely on Facebook and Twitter, wrenching hearts and triggering attempts to find the children and raise donations.
But Na Son Nguyen, the photographer, said on his Twitter handle, “This is my photo of two Vietnamese ethnic Hmong children taken in 2007 in Ha Giang Province; it’s not about Nepal.”
He also posted a copy of the original photo with the caption “Do em gai” or “calming little sister.”
A photo by famous Vietnamese photographer Na Son Nguyen has been wrongly described on social media as two victims of the Nepal earthquake while in reality it is a boy calming his little sister in northern Vietnam in 2007.
The photographer told BBC News in an interview that he was passing by a remote village in the mountainous province when he saw the children, probably two and three years old then, playing in front of their house while their parents were away working.
The little girl cried on seeing a stranger and so the boy hugged her to comfort her, he said.
“It was both moving and cute and so I quickly took a shot.”
He published the photo on his personal blog.
But several years ago he started to see it being shared among Vietnamese Facebook users as “abandoned orphans.”
“This photo some years ago was also posted as Burmese orphans. Funny!!” he said on Twitter.
Among other tales that have been attached to the photo are that the children are victims of the civil war in Syria and their mother had died and their father abandoned them.
The Hanoi-based freelance photographer, who has worked for major newspapers in Vietnam and worldwide and is now the main photographer for AP in Vietnam, said he has tried to clarify about the photo and obtain a copyright but in vain.
“This is perhaps my most shared photo but unfortunately in the wrong context,” he told BBC.