The school bus had almost reached her home – in Mingora, Pakistan – when the gunmen burst through the doors . . .
Brandishing their weapons, her attackers sought her out, asking her name before taking aim. Having fired three shots, the men left her for dead.
That Malala Yousafzai survived is a miracle in itself, a bullet having just missed her left eye and ‘grazed’ her brain during the assault. That her courage and determination is making such an impact all across the Earth is something that, here at OM HQ, we are all finding inspirational.
Recovering from her dreadful injuries at a hospital in the UK, Malala has been described as a ‘symbol of hope and courage’ and a ‘lone voice in a crowd of fear and silence’.
Having been born and raised in a society where women are often frightened to stand up for themselves, Malala has campaigned long and hard for equal rights in Pakistan. It is that which brought her to the attention of the Taliban; it is that which made her a target; it is that which led to her being shot at point-blank range last month. You might not realize this, but Malala is just 15. Our admiration for this tenacious teenager is unlimited.
In 2009, after the Taliban banned girls in Mingora from attending school, Malala began to detail her experiences in an anonymous blog for the BBC. In this, she described defying the edict and the lengths she had taken to continue her education, this despite the gunfire and the bombs and the helicopters used to attack and intimidate the disobedient. Malala’s dispatches brought the plight of the people in Pakistan to a global audience – prompting international condemnation and putting considerable pressure on her country’s politicians. In establishing herself as a leading campaigner for girls’ education in Pakistan, Malala took some quite astonishing risks, as subsequent events have proved. She took those risks not for herself, but for countless others in her homeland and beyond. Because she had seen a wrong and she resolved to make it right. Because she wanted to make life better for everyone.
It seems as though she is succeeding, even if it has cost her more than she might ever have imagined. Malala remains in hospital, but such is the momentum that her campaign has gathered, the fight goes on and she is no longer single-handed.
In recent days, a UN-backed petition calling for all children to be given the right to an education has been presented to the Pakistani High Commissioner in London. More than one million people had signed it. Tens of thousands more have joined a campaign for Malala to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. There is no question in our minds that she deserves such recognition . . .
For standing up to the Taliban. For refusing to be intimidated. For facing her fears and for fighting for the things she knows are right and proper. For shining a light on injustice. For doing it for others. For showing us all the dreadful things that some people have to face in their lives.
It is thought that 32-million girls around the world are denied access to education . . .
This statistic is something that we know only because of Malala, whose bravery, courage and commitment is awe-inspiring.
Here in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, where such people fuel our faith in humanity, we’d like to applaud Malala and wish her well in her continuing rehabilitation. The world is a better place for people like her, that much is beyond question.