This year I want to be more courageous. I started off by reading about people who exhibited this trait. Malala is one of them. She stood up for education and women’s rights when it was dangerous. I never knew what it was like to live in the Middle east where women are restricted to roles set by their culture. I didn’t know that there are still women who cannot have equal rights with men especially in terms of education and profession. I commend her for speaking up even at an early age. It must have took her great courage to begin with. I also commend her dad for encouraging her to be free.
Today I’m going to share five things that struck me the most while reading her story.
Malala came from the middle east where women were not given much importance and yet she made use of every opportunity given to her to share kindness and love to the people around her—her neighbors, the children they saw on the streets and other needy people. She lived under the reign of Talibans where people were suddenly hurt or killed and yet she had the courage to speak.
As a person living in a democratic country where people have freedom to do most of the things that we like, I realized that I am taking a lot of opportunities for granted. I am motivated to speak up now that I can.
I also realized that I should not be contented to live my life as if there are no people in need. God blessed me with abilities, resources, and time so that I can bless others. We may sometimes complain that we do not have enough as of the moment and thought we could share if we can become millionaires one day but I realized that even a small amount could do. As little as we can, we can help a lot! On her 16th birthday, Malala spoke at the United Nations where she mentioned that one book, one pen and one teacher can already make a huge difference. I realized that if we believe in some things, we must have the courage to go all in.
Speaking up when you are oppressed is difficult when you know that your oppressor is more powerful. When Malala’s dad was starting to build his school for girls, there were a lot of problems especially in dealing with the government and the community. Corruption was rampant, and the influential people wanted to close his school. The Taliban saw it as a violation of the Quran. Parents were against him when he invited poor and needy people to sit in a class with the rich kids. His former business partner gave up also when he didn’t see immediate results.
Malala’s dad realized that through speaking up in behalf of schools, he could raise his opinions to those in position. He joined several organizations who stood up for education and girls’ rights. He raised his concern about corruption in the government when schools were having difficulty in getting permits to operate. Through the help of like minded individuals who are concerned about the children, he was able to motivate them towards his vision of giving good education. He also encouraged Malala to speak in their campaigns for girls’ rights.
I realized that we can only do as much when we’re alone. It is as if we’re trying to fight single handedly. But with the help of a community of like minded individuals, we are stronger, our voice is louder, and our hands are bigger. We need not make a difference on our own. We can look for individuals who are also wanting the same.
When Malala’s dad started his school, there were only few students who enrolled. He also had to balance his time to focus on financial concerns, welfare of teachers, academic curriculum of students and cleanliness of the school. They had to sacrifice meals and personal space. Other people would even make fun of him. It took a while for the community to recognize his school’s reputation. After some time, there were already three buildings in the school, a bunch of students who join competitions across their place and teachers. It also took him several years to be able to build his reputation in the organizations he joined. He was even looked up to when there were instances that they must speak up on some issues even though he wasn’t involved politically.
Like the movement that Malala and her dad started in Swat Valley, it will take time to see progress. Changes do not happen in a day especially when we want to see a total turnaround. There will be a lot of challenges too. All of these will not result to nothing.
The Taliban hit Malala by the bullet over her head. She believed that the reason the gunned men were forceful was because they were uneducated. They did not know what the words in the Quran mean. They were interpreting their religion as something that it is not. She said that it was supposed to be peaceful because Islam means peace. They wanted to use brute force to show their power. They wanted to use such force because they fear that people will not honor them. Because they do not know the truth, they did so many crazy things just to make people afraid.
Another instance mentioned in the book was when Malala’s dad and his friend was passing through a checkpoint. His friend asked if they will pretend to be somebody else because they were known and were looked after by the Talibans. Her dad never made a second thought of changing their names. He stood for what he believed was the right thing to do.
I realized that when we speak the truth, there’s nothing to worry about. Because we know we are in the right, there will be peace in our hearts. Whatever happens, our conscience is clear. I also realized that it is important to know the truth. And we will know it by reading or learning from other people.
I commend Malala’s dad for being courageous. Both Malala and him motivated me to die a noble death than swallow the words that I said.
Malala was asked a couple of times by reporters whether she felt a grudge towards her perpetrator. She said that she did not even think of the gunned man who tried to kill her. There was no hurt feelings that was left on her. Instead, what remained was more passion to make her new life count to be able to help more people in need of good education and equal rights.
Her parents also supported all sorts of people in need. She told in her story that their house was always full of guests. They feed the children they support before heading school. They also help others whenever they have concerns as much as they can. Both her mom and her dad were activists in some way. They made sure that they do what they can to help.
On the other hand, when they were in need and were in critical situations, people just suddenly appeared to help. When her dad was on his way to the university, he didn’t know where to move in because he lack money and his only relative didn’t have the means to take him in. His fiancé and now wife’s uncle willingly offered his place not knowing his situation.
When Malala was brought to the Birmingham hospital, hundreds and thousands of people sent messages of encouragement to her. There were also several people who helped them finance the operations and recovery.
I realized that when we extend mercy, we receive grace. When we become generous with other people, we tend to get more than we could ever ask for.
When we sincerely want to help others, we will muster the courage we need because we know that our efforts will not be in vain. It is when we volunteer to stand up for others that we will be able to do dangerous things and compromise our security for the good of other people.