It’s just one year since the Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head, on her way from school. She was taken to a local hospital in a critical condition and within an hour and a half, airlifted to a military hospital, where the doctors removed part of her scull to reduce the pressure on her brain.
Fortuitously, there were two visiting doctors from the UK at the hospital and although they thought the operation successful, they feared for her aftercare. She was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she received treatment to restore her face and received a cochlear implant. She made an amazing recovery – even giving a speech at the United Nations.
This young woman has been criticised by some in her own country as being a puppet of the West. Others have even suggested that she wasn’t shot at all – even though the newsreel of her lying unconscious and bloodied was flashed around the world – and the Taliban admitted shooting her!
Two other girls were shot on the same bus and together with other girls in Pakistan they constantly fear reprisals from those who don’t think girls should be educated. This year there have been 60 attacks on education alone.
Meanwhile here in the UK we have pupils who are not interested in education and cause disruption in their classes, making like miserable for the teachers and those who wish to learn. Many years ago I had the privilege of teaching in an African school for girls. As an untrained teacher this was a daunting prospect, but the girls were a delight and very eager to learn. Some would walk miles in pouring rain just to attend school – only to be turned back again as there was nowhere to dry their clothes.
I think Malala is a shining example to all of us, not only in believing in the right to education, but also fighting for it – and in doing so, hoping to bring warring peoples together. Sure, she will have help in writing her speeches and is being promoted by all sorts of interested parties, but her message is still the same and we can’t argue with that. By being a figurehead she is making herself a target and therefore shows tremendous courage.
If you missed the BBC documentary on Monday, you can catch up with it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24379018
Malala’s speech to the United Nations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRh_30C8l6Y
(Interesting to see some of the comments suggest the story a fake, and one guy says he knows Malala and her father personally! I wonder what they would have to say about that?)
The Malala Fund – supporting girls right to an education: http://www.malalafund.org/