13 Aug Bravery

The pre-teen and teenage years are difficult for any young woman. Our bodies are changing, our emotions are up and down and we feel like no one truly understand us. Growing up as an American girl, I recall that this is a time when we are mostly interested in gossip, the latest fashions, the crush of the week, and hanging out with friends. We are free to express ourselves through our clothes, music, art etc. Most of us Americans are ignorant of what is happening around the world. Some of the news is so filtered that we get a very sanitized version of what is actually happening. It is amazing all we take for granted as Americans and sometimes just need to pause and appreciate the freedoms and opportunities we have been given. So, I decided this summer our youth group, a chapter of Girl Talk Inc, would readthe memoir I am Malala to get a glimpse in the life of a young woman from Pakistan. For those of you who have not heard of this book or Malala Yousafzai here is a brief summary of this amazing young woman. Malala is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education for woman. When she was only 12 years old, Malala wrote a blog under a pseudonym detailing her life under Taliban occupation, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls in the Swat Valley. The following summer a journalist from the New York Times made documentary about her in the region. She began gaining popularity giving interviews in print and on television, and she was even nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu. In 2012 as she boarded her school bus, a gunman asked for her by name, then pointed a pistol at her and fired three shots. One bullet hit the left side of her forehead, travelled under her skin through the length of her face, and went into her shoulder. The assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for this young woman. Time Magazine has featured Malala for 3 consecutive years as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, and the recipient of the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In 2015, when Malala turned 18 years old, she opened a school for Syrian refugees. The school, funded by the not-for-profit Malala Fund, offers education and training to girls aged 14 to 18 years. This brave young woman called on world leaders to invest in “books, not bullets”. There was a total of 17 of us in the book club, including adults, pre-teens and teens that read the I am Malala book and the reviews were all the same. We all agree, this book gives us many strong messages. One message is to be thankful for all the freedoms you have, we don’t even realize how lucky we are and all that we have here in the USA.  Another message we agree on is that everyone should be treated equally. Malala says even simple things like listening to music, going to the store or the most important going to school. Lastly, the message that regardless of your age YOU can be the change to the world. Malala was only 10 years old when she started to campaign for girls’ rights. She talked with journalists, published a diary about the Taliban under a fake name, and gave speeches at national and international forums. She won the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 and established a Malala Fund to support education and has a day of the year dedicated to her name. In Malala’s words, “One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.” She is truly a brave young woman who is very inspirational.

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