A Dushanbe city gardens worker in the capital of Tajikistan has become a local celebrity through a chance picture taken by a visiting Romanian photographer. Internet and local TV reports about 19-year-old Munira Mirzoyeva's inclusion in the Atlas of Beauty—an online compendium of the diversity of feminine beauty around the world—has made her readily recognizable on the streets of Dushanbe where she plants flowers. She hopes this newfound fame will help rescue her from relative poverty. She wants to resume her studies so she can get a job better suited to supporting her family in the former Soviet nation in Central Asia, where she shares a one-bedroom apartment with her parents and four younger siblings.
Mirzoyeva's dream is to become a doctor, although she was forced by poverty to stop her education while still in elementary school. Following her improbable rise to fame, online groups have sprung up to raise money to send her back to school. That has sparked a hope that appeared remote until only a few weeks ago. "If the chance presents itself, I will definitely continue my studies, because that is my biggest dream," Mirzoyeva said. "I like my job as a gardener, but because I don't have the opportunity, I cannot study. But if I get the chance, I will definitely do it." (Read more Tajikistan stories.)