By: Sharan Murugiah
I am Malala tells the story of 15-year old Malala Yousafza, who had her world flipped upside down when the Taliban took over the valley she lived in. She grew up in a household with strong pillars for parents: a dad who always supported his daughters imagination and love for learning, and a mother who encouraged Malalas drive and exuberance, despite her own conservative background. This novel details the events leading up to Malalas shooting. Her courage was displayed not only in her confrontation with the Taliban, but also all her actions before that encounter. Throughout the novel, she transforms into a symbol for education, becoming the mockingbird of Pakistan.
Malala and her father were strong advocates for education, unheard of in a nation that handicapped women on all fronts. They believed that education was a basic human right for both men and women equally, and Malala, along with her father refused to let the Taliban tell them otherwise. Malala fought her battle with words, which delivered a much stronger blow. Through the use of eloquent speeches, Malala and her father were able to capture the attention of millions. Her family stood up against the Taliban and voiced their opinions publicly, garnering media attention from the developed world. The family was placed under scrutiny by the community and were threatened countless times by the Taliban. It is in this moment that one fully understands, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; the brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. Malala and her family possessed a courage that allowed them to stand up against injustice. By speaking up, they were able to educate and gain the support of people all around the world, as well as protect their valley, their home.
Throughout the novel, the reader gets a first-hand experience of what it is like to grow up in the valleys of Swat, Pakistan. Readers are immersed into its culture and traditions. Pashtuns abide by a strict code of honor, which forces them to treat everyone with the utmost respect. Hospitality is shown through families that house as many as 20 individuals, simply because that was the expectation if someone needed a helping hand. Family is extremely important in the valley of Swat. The book resonates because it depicts a fathers relentless love for his daughter; Malalas father never once restricted his daughter and instead told her she could do anything she wanted. From the minute she was born, he treated her as an equal. While others mourned the birth of a girl, Malalas father celebrated. It was his view on life that transcended and influenced Malala, making her the person she is today.
Readers witness the transformation of a peaceful valley into a warzone, dragging along the people who reside in it. I am Malala touched so many lives as it not only shed light on how her life was changed, but rather how the entire nation was transformed. The book allowed readers to understand the struggles of leaving ones homeland, the sense of terror instilled even after the violence has ended, and the deep-rooted impact such events have on ones life. It is a brutally honest and submerging experience into the destruction of a home.
This book describes the struggle for freedom. Malala exclaims, I know the importance of education because my pens and books were taken from me by force. But the girls of Swat are not afraid of anyone. We have continued with our education. It is easy to take these basic human rights for granted, that so many of us are privileged to have. Malala shows readers that education is worth fighting for. She believes that it is through education that one can fulfill the mind and soul. Education is key for the eradication of poverty. In the aftermath of the shooting, Malala continues to advocate for education. She created The Malala Fund, helping girls in the southern regions of the world gain access to a minimum of 12 years of education. Malala is determined to continue the fight for access to education and believes that the battle is not over until there is education for all.
Around the world, there are still millions of young girls who are not in school. To view student profiles and support various initiatives to educate girls, please visit https://www.givology.org/~tfscholarship/
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