Julie Aftab was just 16 years old when she was brutally attacked by two strangers who accused her of insulting Islam.
Aftab, who was born and raised in Pakistan, was just two weeks into a job she took to help support her family, when a man walked into the office where she was working and engaged her in an argument about the silver cross she was wearing around her neck, the paper said.
After asking her repeatedly if she was a Christian, the man accused her of insulting Islam and took off – only to return with an accomplice and a bottle of battery acid, and poured acid on face and down her throat, it added.
The acid melted her right cheek, burned 67% of her esophagus, and caused her to lose her right eye, right ear and her eyelids, it said.
According to the report, her ordeal didn’t end there – after the story spread that she had denigrated Islam, she and her family became targets of persecution and her house was burned down. She even described an incident in which someone tried to shoot her, the bullet barely missing her face.
But 10 years later Aftab has started a new life. With the help of a nondenominational bishop, Aftab was able to get out of Pakistan and come to a hospital in Houston in 2004, where doctors worked to repair the damage by performing surgeries. So far, Aftab has undergone 31 surgeries, the paper said.
She was taken in by Houston couple Lee and Gloria Ervin, who taught her English and helped her recover from the trauma she had been through.
Aftab has now started a new life as an accounting major at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She is currently living in the U.S. under asylum.
Aftab, who once wanted to be a doctor, says she now hopes to one day be a pastor and create a safe house for children in Pakistan.
“Before I wanted to save bodies, but now I want to save the soul,” she said.