13 Feb. 2015
A woman cries as she cannot find her 4-year-old daughter and husband on the top of the ruins of a destroyed school in earthquake-hit Beichuan county, Sichuan province in this May 17, 2008 file photo.
Jason Lee: It was the fifth day since the deadly Sichuan Earthquake shook southwestern China. People were still looking for survivors in the ruins of Beichuan county, one of the worst-hit areas.
A landslide triggered by the earthquake had buried a kindergarten and the woman pictured, a mother of a four-year-old girl who was buried under the ruins, kept crying out her daughter's name and kept blaming herself, saying it was all her fault.
I was shooting military troops search for surviving children in the ruins when her desperate crying caught my attention. I tried to be quiet and crouched in front of her to shoot for about one minute and after a while checked with her relatives for more details.
On the morning of the earthquake, her daughter told her she wasn't feeling too well and didn't want to go to kindergarten. The mother was a bit upset, thinking her daughter might be lying to get away from school. The mother, whose husband was also killed in the earthquake, kept saying that she was responsible for her daughter's death, as if she might still be alive if she had allowed her to stay at home.
The sadness in the woman's crying and the story behind it left a deep mark on me, reminding me of the cruelty and ruthlessness in disasters. Covering this story affected me deeply. I was 33 at the time, in my best shape physically, and all I thought about was my career. But after the coverage, I felt it was time to start a family and have a warm home to return to.
REUTERS/Jason Lee/Files (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER SOCIETY POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
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