Being a teenager in today's society generally involves hanging out with friends, cell phones, extra-curricular activities, and plenty of fun. In a long list of 'things to do when I am a teenager', being a child activist would not commonly be listed as a priority. Malala Yousafzai is an extraordinary exception.
Named after the Pashtun heroine, Malala Yousafzai has undoubtedly lived up to her name in her short lifetime. Malala was born July 12, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan - located in the country's Swat valley. Malala's passion for education is not far-fetched. Her father, Ziauddin, is the founder of a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School and also an educational activist.
In 2008, the Taliban began attacking girls' schools in Swat. This initiated Malala's activism spirit. She gave a speech in Peshawar, Pakistan titled "How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?" She also began blogging for the BBC about her experiences living under the Taliban's threat and violence under a hidden name, Gul Makai, to protect her identity. All of this was happening when Malala was only the tender age of 11. Her strength had already begun to prove her to be an amazing force in her community and the world.
At the age of 14, Malala and her family were facing a death threat that was made by the Taliban. Although they were concerned for their safety, they felt that the group would not harm children. This thought was proven to be far from the truth. On her way home from school on October 9, 2012, a man boarded Malala's bus and demanded the other children to point her out. Out of fear and pure desperation, Malala's friends identified her by looking in her direction. She was shot immediately. The bullet hit her in the left side of her head and then traveled down her neck. There were two other girls on the bus that were also injured.
In critical condition, Malala was sent to a military hospital in Peshawar. A portion of her skull had to be removed to help in reducing the swelling in her brain. Soon she was sent to Birmingham, England for extensive care that included multiple surgeries - including repair of a facial nerve to fix the paralyzed left side of her face. In all of this trauma and turmoil, this horrific act of cowardice left Malala with NO major brain damage. The very thing that the Taliban had set out to do was unsuccessful.
In 2013 she was able to continue her education in England. She was also able to complete an autobiography, released in October 2013, titled I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. In October 2014 Malala received the Nobel Peace Prize. At 17, she became the youngest recipient. The Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated Malala with these inspiring words:
"She is the pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment."
Malala Yousafzai has continued to be a voice for the power of education. She is empowering girls through education to help them achieve their full potential. With her olive skin and beautiful piercing brown eyes, Malala has proven to the world that girls are more than capable of making a powerful impact.
Source: Biography.com, Malala.org
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