An infinite level of courage, an unfathomable limit of confidence, the wizened face the twenty-first century has symbolised as standing up for what you believe in, irrespective of circumstance. As a young female of today, I look up to you. You, who literally took a bullet for the present girl child, to safeguard the education of every girl child to follow. You, who did not let the caustic whirlpool of terrorism drown out the hopes and dreams that you had for yourself. You, who push forward relentlessly to bring each girl in the world, whoever may try to stop them where they are, under the ever-growingly progressive umbrella that is education. You, who continue to inspire so many women like me each day.
Your story is not just one of fighting for something you are faithful to. It is a story of facing the consequences of revolution, no matter how harsh they may be. It is a story of fearlessness and valour in the eye of the hurricane, at the end of the gunstock. You put out your voice, shielding every girl trying to learn in the Swat valley. At that time, it was clear that you were not backing down. Whether it was blogging anonymously or going to school despite the danger you knew it held – no one, not even the terrorists, could put out the burning fire in you to gain an education. That burning fire has spread far and wide, its flames licking the borders of Nigeria, Jordan and Kenya. Now, it burns inside me as well; its heat swelling me up with respect and gratitude when I think of the youthful lives you change each day.
But the part that I resound with most is the fuel behind that fire. You stand for education. You stand for children all over the world to gain an opportunity to write the alphabet, to open a book, to dream about a profession in academia. In the environment I have grown up in, that has always been a given. It has been looked upon as an inevitable event, that some aren’t even fond of. The fact that it is so violently snatched away from youth in areas like yours made me realise its invaluableness. Now, as I enter my classroom, I know that I am learning for each child you fight for. I am learning so that maybe, one day, I can teach them. I am learning to make a change, as you have intangibly done, for generations to come.
And in spite of all that you have been through, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, you continue to believe. Your recovery has been dubbed miraculous, but to me, it was meant to be. Someone up there knew that you could not be an angel just yet. That you still had worldly lives to save, a task that could only be done from the Earth below. And in doing just that, your story has been immortalised. As the youngest ever, and the first from your country, to win a Nobel Peace Prize, the world now stands unified for education as a right, with the flaming torch in your hands. I promise that I will not let that flame die out.
Malala, as I relate your story, I must magnify the person you are, apart from the work you do. As you pursue a degree yourself, you fight for primary and secondary education. While you live in England, you look out for the children that live in the valley of your home. As you confidently deliver your Nobel acceptance speech, your family stands beside you, as your strength and support. As you have battled for education in the past, you continue to spread that triumph in the present and ensure that no such battle should occur in the future. And for every cause that I should fight for, I aspire to do the same.
For the youth of today that will be the revolutionizers of tomorrow, it’s our time. Just like you have lead a generation of uneducated fledgelings left in the darkness, into the warm glow that the same fire of education casts, let each one of us find that very fervour to change the world, and to let nothing stand in our way in doing so. Let us find our cause, light our own torches and blaze our own path through the mysterious forest that we call the future.
A girl who’s ready to start a fire
– Mahia DeSylva for MTTN
– Design Credits: Mayank Kashyap