*This post is written by my good friend and author Jared Garrett.
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How to add to a section about heroes that already includes Tim Ballard, Eric Liddle, and a man who outsmarted Nazis on a bike? I mean, I’ve been supporting OUR for two years now because seeing people suffering in the most vile and heinous circumstances makes me want to get bitten by a radioactive spider and have gamma rays blasted at me so I can put some spandex on and save every one of them. I joke because anything else would make me too furious to write.
Another situation that makes me furious is the way women and girls are treated by fundamentalists who choose (yes, they choose) to see women and girls as property, unworthy, and deserving of beatings and other awful treatment. But Malala Yousafzai defuses my fury, transforming it into a desire to forgive, peacefully protest, and show love and kindness to all.
Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. She’s the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Prize for peace. Her family runs schools in the region she is from. Starting in 2009, she has been an activist for the rights of women and girls, mainly centered on education. She started blogging for BBC Urdu and became fairly well known. She had grown up under the heavy rule of the awful Taliban, so speaking out in any way, especially as a girl, was an act of extraordinary courage.
One day, when she was fifteen, she got on a bus to go to school with some friends. A gunman appeared, asked for her by name (and she didn’t hide), and shot her. A bullet hit her in the head. She was in critical condition for a while, was transported to a hospital in England, and slowly recovered.
Outrage, a thing we’re so good at today, resulted. At least this outrage was well placed. She became the most famous teenager in the world.
During her first speech after the attack, she said this:
“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born ... I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I'm here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists.”
She wasn’t spiteful. She didn’t demand counter-attacks. She sought no revenge. She demonstrated extreme focus, dedication, and love by saying that she was stronger now and she wanted education even for the children of her attackers. She hasn’t slowed down in her activism. She shows no fear. She is hardly welcome in her own country anymore.
But Malala stands strong, peaceful, mild, and forceful in the face of everything. You can’t not notice this rock of utter certainty and determination amidst a wide spectrum of political operatives around the world. Malala Yousafzai is not political. She’s a powerful young women with an unmistakable voice and message that she delivers with great calm and courage. I can’t think of a better hero for me to have.
To learn more about Malala, click on the links provided by Jen below.
The Malala Fund- Co-founded by Malala and her father, their goal is to enable girls to achieve 12 years of education.
Malala's Father's Ted Talk
A little bit of fun:
Her very moving Nobel Peace Prize Speech:
Family Discussion Guide: (watching the videos will be helpful)
-Why does Malala think education is a privilege?
-Are we using our opportunity to get an education wisely? Or are we just getting through it?
-How does Malala think of her attackers?
-Why is speaking the truth important?
-How do we unintentionally "clip wings"?
-How do we unintentionally act like our wings are clipped, when they are not?
-How can we help others learn?
His stories have been nominated for and won several awards, including First Place in the Vera Hinckley Mayhew contest in Utah and Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. His favorite authors are Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Robert Ludlum, Katherine Paterson, Douglas Adams, Patricia McKillip, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and many more. If you ask him where his story ideas come from, be prepared for a lengthy discussion about inspiration dust, hauling a towel wherever you go, and dogs. Lots and lots of dogs. No, seriously. Dogs.
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Find his books on Amazon:
Beyond the Cabin
Future Worlds Anthology
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