One powerful example of this is Malala Yousafzai, a schoolgirl who lived in Pakistan's Northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and who stood up against the Taliban militants who controlled the region. When the Taliban decreed that girls were to be banned from receiving an education, and started to destroy schools in the area, she began to write a blog about life under the regime. She also protested strongly against their archaic laws on Facebook and other social media. She wrote her blog for the BBC under a pseudonym, but unfortunately, the Taliban soon discovered her identity. In October 2012, as the teenager was returning home, Taliban gunmen attempted to assassinate her, shooting her in the head and neck. She was airlifted to hospital, and although in a critical condition and unconscious for a period of time, she survived the surgery and after also receiving specialist treatment in a British hospital, recovered from her injuries. The Taliban were unrepentant, reiterating their plan to murder her (and members of her family), considering her a clear threat to their regime.
Many others, especially young people might, understandably, have abandoned their crusade at that point, intimidated by the threats from the Taliban gunmen. But Malala did not yield. She had the courage and conviction to stand her ground, and now campaigns openly and vigorously for free education for all. She is an inspiration to millions around the world, has addressed the United Nations Assembly, and was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. She has now established the Malala Fund for Girls' Education, and a biographical film about her life is currently in production. Malala's courageous stand has already made a huge impact on education around the world. Schools have been re-established in many places where they were once closed, and world leaders have caught her vision to campaign for free education for all, regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity. Malala is truly a tree standing alone in the midst of destruction, resilient and unyielding. At her young age, she is an agent for change, surviving and succeeding against all the odds.
One of Malala's most memorable quotes to date is: 'books will defeat terrorism'. I hope she inspires you as much as she has inspired me.
'Standing up for what you believe in, sometimes means standing alone'
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Standing alone by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.