Children: Let Them Amaze You
One Remarkable Girl
"One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world."
This is a quote from a speech given by Malala Yousafzai to the UN Youth Assembly, just nine months after her attempted assassination.
Last week, Malala Yousafzai won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest recipient of the coveted award. The 17-year-old shared the prize with Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.
Today I listened to Malala's speech at the UN. She spoke with great composure and strong conviction. She stated her belief that the world needs peace, education, and equality. She said that thousands have been tortured and killed by extremists. She is only one of those who happened to survive. Now she is using her voice to speak for those who lost theirs. She said that the Taliban tried to silence her, squelch her ambition, and destroy her spirit. Yet they only strengthened her resolve and gave her more courage than ever. She pointed out that the Taliban are the ones who have no courage, in fact, they are afraid of girls who go to school, and afraid of the books that they carry.
Five years ago, the BBC published the anonymous diary of a young school girl from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. This diary turned out to be the writings of Malala Yousafzai as she chronicled the challenges of trying to gain an education under the threat of Taliban rule.
Here is her entry from January 15, 2009:
The night was filled with the noise of artillery fire and I woke up three times. But since there was no school I got up later at 10 am. Afterwards, my friend came over and we discussed our homework. Today is 15 January, the last day before the Taleban's edict comes into effect, and my friend was discussing homework as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
Today, I also read the diary written for the BBC (in Urdu) and published in the newspaper. My mother liked my pen name 'Gul Makai' and said to my father 'why not change her name to Gul Makai?' I also like the name because my real name means 'grief stricken'.
My father said that some days ago someone brought the printout of this diary saying how wonderful it was. My father said that he smiled but could not even say that it was written by his daughter.
Gul Makai, is the name of a heroine from a Pashtun folk tale.
Here's more on Malala's story from the BBC.