Saturday, February 9, 2013
Her body bears the scars of the brutal attack last October by the cowardly Taliban, yet her spirit and courage remain unbroken. Indeed, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Islamic extremists because she publicly and strongly advocated education for girls, made it clear this week that she will not be silenced.
“I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated. For that reason, we have organized the Malala Fund,” Malala said in the video, made available by a public relations firm.
The brave 15-year-old said she is “getting better day-by-day,” following weeks of treatment at a British hospital in Birmingham. She was flown from Pakistan to Britain after doctors cut out a large section of her skull to accommodate her enlarged brain resulting from the gunshot to her head.
The skull section was placed in her abdomen so it could be preserved for reattachment. However, the reconstruction required a titanium piece to be inserted as well because of the damage done to her head.
Despite the surgeries and weeks of painful recovery, Malala’s determination and optimism have been unshaken. She is worthy of the accolades that have come her way not only since the shooting, but even before. Her activism on behalf of girls in Pakistan has been an inspiration to many around the world who are struggling to attain even a modicum of respect for girls and women.
It is fitting that Malala made Time magazine’s short list for “Person of the Year” in 2012, and has been mentioned as a possible nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.
It isn’t just her tender age that makes her an inspirational figure; it is her steely determination to carry on her work even though the Islamic extremists who shot her have pledged to try again if she returns to Pakistan and her home in the Swat Valley.
“Today you can see that I am alive. I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone,” Malala said. “It’s just because of the prayers of people. Because all people — men, women, children — all of them have prayed for me. And because of all these prayers God has given me this new life, a second life.”
Malala was airlifted to Britain from Pakistan in October to receive specialized medical care and protection against further Taliban threats. She is expected to remain in the U.K. for some time as her father, Ziauddin, has secured a post with the Pakistani consulate in the English city of Birmingham.
Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which has been treating the teen, said it successfully operated to reconstruct her skull. Doctors said Malala also had a cochlear implant to restore the hearing in her left ear, which was injured as a result of the shooting.
The Malala Fund is a girls’ education charity set up in late 2012. It was launched with a $10 million donation from Pakistan.
Although she won’t be going home anytime soon, Pakistani government officials, who have been effusive in their praise of the schoolgirl activist, need to publicly endorse her efforts and warn the Taliban and any other Islamic extremists who want to take the country back to the dark ages that sexual discrimination will not be tolerated.