This year, since I have moved to New Zealand, I have started a bookclub with three teen girls. Our first book to start with has been ‘I am Malala’. Since we opened it’s beginning pages, we have journeyed through an insightful time and place with many questions about who is Malala and what can we take from her example.Some of you may have heard her name before. A young girl of twelve years old; who was shot by the Taliban for standing up for the right to education for females in her home country of Pakistan. Malala opens our eyes to how fortunate we are to have such access and freedom to learn in school and hopefully we won’t take this for granted. She also teaches us many other things.
- Malala teaches us that no matter the age, we should always stand up for what we believe in, despite the opposition. Imagine speaking and living out your belief when threats are verbalised against you and there is a fear for your life and the lives of your loved ones. Would we shy away, never being heard and living in fear? Is what we believe in worth that risk? Is being silent wise or cowardly? Here is a poem that was written during the time of WWII and how our actions though may seem futile can actually change a life or a circumstance.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. -Niemöller
- Malala displayed great faith in the midst of great trials. We see this as she spent months recoving in a British hospital far from her family and home. She also exemplified what it is to forgive those who harm you and if you happen to watch the documentary on her life, her gracious manner is infectious.
- Malala teaches us to be content and grateful for what we do have. If only every student could read this before they wake up early and grumbles while getting ready for school. Before every book is opened and every pen touches paper. We live in a part of the world that accomodates and encourages every individual to be educated-female or male. There are millions of females in particular, in many parts of the world, who do not have this privelege and they are paralysed and dependent in their illiteracy. The question arises of what can we do to help? How can we show our young people what this means for us and for others? And then maybe they can be the ones who will also reach out to stand up for such rights or other rights too, for that matter.
- Malala shows us that words and peaceful actions are effective. One of the teen girls from the group exclaimed that she was “inspired by how she persists with her beliefs despite the threats of an apparently more powerful force, and that she believes that her pen is an even match to their guns.” Malala has spoken all over the world inspiring others with her powerful words. She has won the Nobel peace prize in 2014 and humbly strives to advocate using her voice and story to equip others to do the same.
There are many more things to learn from this young lady so I really recommend that you read the book to find out more for yourself. This afternoon, the bookclub and I met at a friend’s house. This friend has lived in Pakistan and was able to share more about life there. We clothed our heads with colourful scarves and adorned our arms with jingling bangles. We drank sweet chai tea and watched the documentary about Malala’s life. Here are some beautiful and colourful photos from that time, which reflects that beautiful culture and part of the world, that we can’t allow to be tainted by hate or discrimination. Malala celebrates and displays a love for her country despite what has seeped through her hometown. We must be mindful to pray for Pakistan, as well as other countries, who desire not only rights to education but a peace for their surroundings.