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Malala Speaks Up for Education

The book I am Malala is dedicated to all girls who have faced injustice and been silenced.
Russell Watkins/DFID; DFID - UK Department for International Development, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The book I am Malala is dedicated to all girls who have faced injustice and been silenced.

Welcome, this is Mary Scott with a Radio Readers BookByte for the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club. I recently finished “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban” written by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. You may be familiar with this young lady as the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, but this is an important autobiographical work which I have wanted to read this for some time. I am glad that I have finally read it and would recommend that you not put it off any longer.

“I am Malala” tells the true story of an unexpected hero, and now international spokesperson for women, displaced people, and education for all. While reading this text, I read an article about another hero, Annette Reynolds of Florence, South Carolina. She says “I didn’t know that I’d be the first Black graduate of my university, or that I’d receive an honorary doctorate in public service. I didn’t know I was making history.”

This describes young Malala growing up in Swat, Pakistan. She considered her home valley beautiful, and despite her family living in poverty, she describes many happy memories. If the October 2012, Taliban shooting of Malala, and 2 other Pakistani girls, on their way home from school had not occurred, I believe Malala would never have left Pakistan and would have continued her father’s fight for education for girls and the poor. She would never have had to suffer the homesickness described throughout the book.

Malala, with Christina Lamb’s help, gives beautiful descriptions of her home town, of the lovely valley between the beautiful mountains and even the mud and stone houses with rooftops to play on. However, this book also gives you enough history of Pakistan and exposure to some of the culture and politics of the region to understand some of the challenges she and her family faced, as well as a better understanding of the divide between conservative and progressive Muslims. You will also gain understanding of the ancient history that still impacts this part of the world, and why Malala and her family suffered culture shock as they adjusted to life in England.

The book is divided into five parts. First, you will read of her life which includes a description of her parent’s life and meeting. You will learn of the wisdom her mother and father taught her, and the exemplary life they led. Despite living in poverty, others were worse off. Her mother, who lacked any formal education, would feed anyone who came to her door, including children on the way to her husband’s school. This may have been part of Malala’s motivation to speak up for a group poorer than her, the “Children of the Rubbish Mountain.” She recognized the need for the poorest to receive an education. This first part also reveals that Malala’s father was an unusual Muslim man in his village, not only because he promoted education of girls, but because he valued and celebrated his daughter the same as his sons.

The final parts of the book will explain how Malala was saved from her injuries and her life in Birmingham, England. You also will feel the fears of her parent’s as they had to allow her to depart without them, never knowing if they would see her again and never knowing if they would make it out of Pakistan alive. Malala’s survival required international effort. First, transfer was made to a local army hospital for Malala to receive the best neurological care possible. Then, doctors visiting from England, came to see if they could help. It was more than just “can we save her life.” It became apparent that both her rehabilitation and safety would require her to leave Pakistan.

This became a challenge of how to safely get her out of the country. Fortunately, the Pakistani military provided protection and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia volunteered a private jet with hospital facilities to transport her to England, and to finally reach Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Currently, Malala has added speaking out for displaced people to her priorities. She clings to the hope that at some future time she will be able to return to her home, to Pakistan. “I am Malala” is dedicated “To all the girls who have faced injustice and been silenced. Together we will be heard.”

I hope you will read “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban” and provide a link in the chain of spreading Malala’s vital message. I hope it will help others appreciate the available education we may take for granted and motivate us to do our best to speak up for global education of all, no matter your gender or economical level.

This has been Mary Scott delighted to share with you on behalf of High Plains Public Radio Readers Book Club.

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