I have a mother

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Photo by Bahareh Bisheh

In celebration of “Tell the Truth Day”, I want to tell you about something that happened to me a few minutes ago. I was looking at a photo of a little girl sleeping in the outline she drew of her “mother,” tears streaming down my cheeks. Maybe you saw it, maybe you didn’t.

For those whose hearts were also broken today by the photo, thinking this small child was an orphan, please read this statement by the photographerย Bahareh Bisheh :

“This little girl is my cousin and she actually fell asleep on the asphalt just outside my house. She must have played for some time and just lied to rest and fell asleep. im used a chair to stand on in order to take this shot. There is no orphanage involved and no tragic story behind this. i took this opportunity to be creative. It is a style of photography.”

Now,ย Tell the Truth Dayย  is not until July 4, but when I read this reveal, I thought there’s no reason to wait for a holiday.

EVERY day should be tell the truth day.

So why call her an orphan, when she’s not?

Sometimes lies like this are shared on purpose, with an agenda. Still other times it’s easier to see what we want to in a photo. And sometimes we just don’t know better – we trust our friends or the sites who shared it with us.

Are there children suffering in the world, missing their mothers? Yes. Does something need to be done to help? Most definitely.

But in this case, the photo does not depict such tragedy. This photo depicts a sweet, tired child. Nothing more. The photographer has even changed the title of the photo to “I have a mother” to try to counteract the rampant misinformation.

The way this photo has been used by the well-meaning but misinformed goes back to my last post, where I wrote about how ignorance can be devastating, even leading to war. We must be vigilant if we want to affirm the good. And in this case, with this photo, there is much good. As pure and clear as a fresh drink of water.

It is, in fact, a sweet story.

Thank goodness.

So this is me, doing my part, sharing that story. That truth.

So we can all have a little relief from the heartache.


  1. Simone says

    WOW is all I will say!!! Thanks so much for this!! I did see the picture with the orphanage claim a while ago and it made me incredibly sad – so here’s to a Happy Day ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. The photo sure brings home the point..Before I read your explanation, I was beginning to think that little girl must be totally precocious and somebody should rescue her, bring her up, and help her become what she could be for the world…ha!

  3. Art is interpreted by the viewer unless of course it is explained by the artist……..I don’t know the backround enough…but It seems a littleharsh to use the word liar……Its very cool how the artist just sprang upon this innocent opportunity to take this picture…..interpertation can definetly be misleading..and thats why I love viewing art at museums, I love teaching about art, i especially love it when the “artist” transforms their imagination from their own world view..so everyones interpretation of this very touching photo was rightfully variegated..I spent some time scrolling through the artists various photos..they are all powerful statements of “something” ..and there are several similar to this one…so I can see where the perplexity would set in…..beautiful pic..with a huge story to be told…whether or not there is one…that to me is truly art. Now I am thirtsty! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sasha Martin says

      I agree, she’s very talented! Those who have claimed it’s a child in an orphanage seems to go beyond interpretation, I think… into a very muddled area – unless they specifically say that’s what it “looks like” to them. But you’re right, because her photography is so beautiful it hints at a larger story, begging to be told. So that’s kudos to her ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I’m thirsty, too. Cheers!

  4. Thank you for sharing this picture and the explanation, Sasha. I never saw the picture with the orphan explanation. I had imagined that this represented motherhood and maybe the child’s desire to be safe within her mother’s love. Funny how we project things onto what we see!

  5. aunty eileen says

    I also did a little homework by googling the artist name. What did I see and learn: What was posted from the beginning and became all over the internet (regarding this picture) still appears/ is visible. So and thus, it doesn’t matter that the artist decided at some point to change the title of the picture… I myself did not see ‘the new’ title of the picture.

  6. aunty eileen says

    And, there is a John Lennon quote that says: “Being honest (truthful) may not get you many friends, but it will always get you the right ones.”

  7. Thank you for posting this. I read the story some time ago and my heart was broken for this little girl. As it usually happens, the truth is so much better than a lie.

  8. I hadn’t seen the earlier postings so was unaware of the controversial interpretations, but as my mind was searching for context I sadly admit I was influenced more by fears than hopes. In this case I think that inclination was strongly influenced by a book I read recently – the photo made me think of the Palestinian family in “The Almond Tree” by Michelle Cohen Corasanti. Though the book relates their hardships and horrors, the story is ultimately uplifting, and hopeful that a pragmatic peace in that region is feasible. Thanks for sharing the happy truth about this photo! Both photo and story are good reminders that we are all better served if we allow our impressions to be more generous and kind.

  9. You are so moving and inspiring. I am happy to have found you. I was so moved by this that I had to share on my facebook. I, too, looked at the picture and saw something else. I am glad to know the truthl


  10. Celeste Childress says

    Am I missing something obvious? How is the vessel of water on the window sill connected?

    • Sasha Martin says

      “We must be vigilant if we want to affirm the good. And in this case, with this photo, there is much good. As pure and clear as a fresh drink of water.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • aunty eileen says

            …..2nd and, I will not be commenting on this or any future postings of yours.

        • Sasha Martin says

          “Sasha, children must not be โ€˜usedโ€™.” – I agree 100%. That’s why I wrote this post – to defend this child. Wishing you much peace and love, now and always.

          • aunty eileen says

            Sasha, this child is not yours to defend. No family of hers, with parents consent, asked you to defend this child. Or, if you feel so ‘desperate’ to ‘use’ this picture because YOU believe this child needs “defending”……………. then, please notify the proper authorities.

            • Sasha Martin says

              I’m only sharing what the photographer herself has shared publicly. From the photographer in the comments of this photo: “You can use my photos in your webblag If you mention my name as the photographer of this photo. thanks to all for the consideration.” It is her words I share on this page, with my commentary … which I assure you comes from a place of kindness and good intention.

      • Celeste Childress says

        I knew nothing of what preceded this picture. Children often fall asleep in strange places. I actually thought it was rather sweet.

  11. I thought the glass was telling the reader that you can view the same amount of water as half full OR half empty…

  12. I did not see the photo until now.

    But I can imagine the effect on people who thought it was a photo of an orphan or from an orphanage.

    I knew an aspiring filmmaker who wanted to make a statement creatively and had her 12 year old sister stand on the street asking passersbys – โ€˜Am I beautiful?โ€™ in a plaintive way.

    Her final film showed her sister being ignored and having people walk by her and some even being dismissive and laughing..

    It was a heart wrenching vision.

    The truth was, though, that while they filmed people stopped and told her sister more often than not โ€“ yes, she was beautiful and the dismissive comments were mostly set up..

    I wondered why my friend the filmmaker had not focused on the beautiful reality – that strangers would stop and share loving, supportive, encouraging words with her sister.

    I think sometimes creativity tries for drama and in focusing on that it can miss the love โ€“ like in that film and in this picture โ€“ the truth is more than the story that was made up.

    PS โ€“ I just stumbled on this site looking for cabbage roll recipes (which I found โ€“ thank you โ€“ btw I did not play with cabbage patch dolls : ) a bit after my time) Your site is very beautiful.

  13. Ioana Waite says

    There are many children just like that ! I know I have helped over 20 people to adopt from orfenage,right after Ceaucescu ….

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