Tuesday, October 23, 2012

i am malala.

two weeks ago, a masked gunman boarded a pakistani schoolbus full of children
& shot a 15yo girl twice
because she wants girls to be educated.

malala yousufzai was aptly named for a pashtun poetess & warrior woman.
she lives in mingora, a village in the swat valley of northwest pakistan,
with her parents, her two little brothers & two pet chickens.

in 2009, taliban militants forced the girls' schools
in swat valley to close, & blew up 100+ of the buildings.
malala, with the permission of her father, ziauddin —
a poet, educational activist & school owner himself —
began anonymously blogging her experience as a girl
under taliban rule for bbc urdu. she was 11yo.

eventually, malala's school reopened, but she continued to tell her story.
a new york times documentary was filmed about her life,
she became chairperson of the district child assembly swat,
& last year, she was nominated by desmond tutu for
the international children's peace prize &
won pakistan's first national youth peace prize.

but as she became more recognized, malala became more & more endangered.
death threats against her & her family have been
published in newspapers & slipped under their front door.

in a meeting this summer, taliban leaders unanimously agreed to kill malala.

a group of grown men, considered leaders by their peers, agreed to assassinate a child
because she promoted girls' education & criticized them for trying to eliminate it.


& so, on a tuesday afternoon, as malala was riding home from school,
a masked gunmen boarded her bus & shouted, "which one of you is malala?
speak up, or i will shoot you all."

once identified, malala was shot twice — in the head & in the neck — & left for dead.
the bullet causing the most damage entered above the back of her left eye,
traveled down through her jaw & into her left shoulder.

two of her schoolmates were wounded, too, but were stable enough
at the scene to provide details to the police & reporters.

the taliban readily claimed responsibility for the attack,
calling malala "the symbol of the infidels & obscenity,"
& reiterated its intent to kill malala & her dad.

malala was airlifted to a military hospital where neurosurgeons saved her life.
a week ago, she was flown to birmingham, england, to continue her treatment.
the pakistani government has offered to pay all of her medical expenses.

as of yesterday, malala is conscious, communicating freely
through written notes [she can't speak yet due to a tracheal tube],
has the motor control to stand, & seems to understand where she is & why.

she's still at high risk of infection, & likely has several more surgeries
to go through, in addition to extensive rehabilitation.
but 15yo malala yousufzai today is a survivor & an international hero.

former british prime minister gordon brown has launch a united nations petition
using the slogan "i am malala" & calling for:

:: pakistan to agree to a plan to deliver education for every child;

:: international organizations to ensure the world's 61-million
out-of-school children are in education by the end of 2015; and

:: all countries to outlaw discrimination against girls.

heal on, malala. this world needs your vision, your courage & your example.

image source: getty images.

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