Lessons from Malala

Malala

Malala Yousafzai is a breathtaking example of what we look for as inspiration. When you read her story or hear her speak, you’re reminded of the great social change figures of the last century - Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. It feels like we’re witnessing history, a greatness that is so immense that it’s almost too much to imagine.

Here's an interview with Malala you can sit and share with your kids. I dare you not to get goosebumps.

In case you don't know Malala's story, here's the short version. Malala was born in Pakistan and grew up in the Swat Valley, an area in the northwest part of the country not far from the border of Afghanistan. This area was controlled by a local version of the Taliban, and this group imposed heavy and often brutal restrictions on the education of girls. Her family owned and operated a chain of schools, and Malala became an activist early on, writing articles and blogs about her experiences under the strict rule of the Taliban. She was only a tween when she wrote for the BBC and was the subject of a New York Times documentary. She was even nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize.

On October 9, 2012, Malala climbed onto the bus to go to school, in the same way that millions of other children do every day all over the world. A stranger came aboard the bus and asked for her. He then pointed a gun at her and shot three times. A bullet went into her forehead, through her face and down into her shoulder. She was in critical condition for several days and was then flown to England for care. She was just 15 years old.

The aftermath of the attack brought worldwide attention to Malala during her recovery, strengthening both her resolve and also dramatically strengthening her cause.

Her story seems so impossible, unreachable to us. We are inspired by it and yet in order to fulfill her dreams and the promise of what she offers to the world, we get this itchy feeling like we can’t just sit here reading about her! We’ve got to take action.

Here are five things that we’ve learned from Malala.

  1. Kids matter - Children can make a difference. Malala’s difference began with the simple act of going to school.
  2. Education is valuable - In our society, where education is free for the taking, we sometimes lose the value of the classroom. Malala reminds us that education is not to be taken for granted.
  3. Be fearless - In the aftermath of the shooting, Malala could have very easily gone home to anonymity. But she didn’t. She fearlessly faced the people who sought her destruction, and she’s winning.
  4. Seek support - Malala is the first to say that she’s not done this alone. She has sought out support in her battle for accessible education. Making allies is one of her most impressive qualities.
  5. Speak out - Kids today have an incredible ability to speak out. Wordpress and other outlets offer easy, free web platforms for kids to blog about issues and share their opinions. The web isn’t just for selfies. Malala harnessed it as a tool and so can we.

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