Pakistani acid-attack victim finds new life in Houston
Susan Carroll reports for the Houston Chronicle:
He asked her three times: “Are you a Christian?”
Julie Aftab answered, “Yes, sir,” the first two times, and then got frustrated.
“Didn’t you hear me?” she asked.
They argued, and the man abruptly left the little office, returning 30 or 40 minutes later with a turquoise bottle. Aftab tried to block the arc of battery acid, but it melted much of the right side of her face and left her with swirling, bone-deep burns on her chest and arms. She ran for the door, but a second man grabbed her hair, and they poured the acid down her throat, searing her esophagus.
A decade and 31 surgeries later, Aftab is an accounting major at the University of Houston-Clear Lake with a melodic laugh. She spoke no English when she arrived in Houston in February 2004, but is poised to take her citizenship test later this month.
Doctors in Houston have donated their time to painstakingly reconstruct her cheek, nose, upper lip and replace her eyelids. Over time, her scars have faded from hues of deep wine to mocha.
And, with time, the 26-year-old said, she has learned to forgive.
“Those people, they think they did a bad thing to me, but they brought me closer to God,” Aftab said. “They helped me fulfill my dreams. I never imagined I could be the person I am today.”