Wazhma Sadat (YC ’14, YLS ’19) was just four years old when the Taliban came to power in her native Afghanistan. Immediately, school was banned for all girls, and her young hope of joining her four older sisters and two brothers in starting school was dashed. Instead, education needed to happen in secret. Her parents would cover the windows with comforters, and her brothers would sneak novels home that the family would read together around a single light.
“I grew up thinking that getting educated was a crime,” Sadat relates.
Her father, a Pashtun, was expected to join the Taliban’s ranks. Instead, the family fled to Pakistan, making a living weaving carpets and later running an ice cream truck to pay for the children’s continued education. “I learned early not to take things for granted,” Sadat says.