‘I began to grow up the day my mother warned me to stop laughing’
‘Stories like this inspire me. Seeing the way people like Sola Mahfouz think about the world reinforces my optimism about the future.’ BILL GATES
At age eleven, Sola Mahfouz was told she could no longer attend school. The Taliban threatened that any girl who dared to continue their education would have acid thrown in their face, be kidnapped, or worse. Confined to the walls of her home, Sola watched as the few freedoms of childhood were stripped away. She was forbidden to play, to sing, even to laugh. Her early teenage years were consumed by restrictions.
Realising that she would have to either succumb to this life or find a way out, she decided on the latter. At age sixteen, without even a basic ability to add or subtract, she began secretly learning maths and English. By reading dictionaries and taking free online courses, she taught herself theoretical physics and philosophy, all from a home she could only leave five times a year. In the space of nine years she achieved the level of education that a westerner might take 25 years to do and against all odds moved to America to study quantum computing.
It is a radical act to tell the story of an Afghan woman. Too often, they are portrayed only as victims, their identities erased by thick veils and blanket reporting. Defiant Dreams will change the narrative. It’s the story of an Afghan girl who dared to ask for more.