Posted tagged ‘I Am Malala’

“I am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai

March 5, 2016

I Am Malala

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 near Mingora in the Swat Valley, Pakistan, the first child of a Pashtun family. Her father Ziauddin founded the Kushal School; her mother Pekai is a traditional Pashtun woman who lives in purdah. With the encouragement of her father and the quiet support of her mother, Malala started speaking out in favor of education for girls, giving interviews and speeches, writing a diary under the pseudonym Gul Makai, and winning awards and recognition.

The Taliban came to Swat Valley in 2007, and life changed drastically. Malala criticizes, “The Taliban destroyed everything old and brought nothing new.” Then on October 9, 2012, on her way to school, Malala’s bus was stopped just before a military checkpoint. A Taliban solider asked for her by name and then shot her. The bullet went through her left eye socket and out under her left shoulder. “People prayed to God to spare me, and I was spared for a reason – to use my life for helping people.”

“I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban” (2013), written by 16-year old Malala Yousafzai, with foreign correspondent Christina Lamb, is an inspirational and bittersweet account that combines Pakistan’s recent history and Malala’s personal story, written 10 months after that ruthless shooting. What stands out is how her parents let her make her own choices; and how much passion and courage Malala demonstrates to speak out against Taliban edicts.

Of life in Pakistan and the Pashtun culture, we learn that hospitality and generosity are important. Malala’s home was often filled with family and friends. Though poor, they shared what they had and never let things go to waste. Before the Taliban came to Swat Valley, women were free to travel unaccompanied and go to the market. Under the Taliban’s control, women’s education, travel, and clothing were restricted; music and entertainment was banned; and the Pashtun history was altered with the destruction of many Buddhist statues. “It was as though they wanted to remove all traces of womankind from public life,” reproves Malala. The Taliban bombed schools and discouraged education. By keeping people fearful, ignorant, and unarmed, they remained in control.

Malala’s personality shines through the recital of Pakistan history and her personal story. She is confident and outspoken, valued by her parents in a society where boys are celebrated. She studied hard and was competitive about her grades and exams. She was determined to leave her face uncovered, taking care with her appearance (though she would rather study than go shopping). Through her writing, we see Malala’s strong family support, their faith in God, the urgency of prayer, and their love of their home.

Today, Malala and her family live in Birmingham, England. Malala writes about how alone her family feels in England, no longer surrounded by family. Malala continues to fight for the right for girls to go to school. “The last year has shown me both the extreme hatred of man and the limitless love of God.”