To Malala

To Malala,

I used to be someone who would check out piles of books from the local library, frequently allowing myself to get lost in other worlds. As I got older, however, my collection dwindled for I found less time for reading. There is one book that has remained on my shelf for many years, and has at the same time, found a secure place within my heart- that book happens to be, I am Malala. When your book came out, I was thirteen years old- I had just returned from my very first visit to Pakistan, a two year stay in which I watched every part of myself change: while falling in love with my motherland, I was also disappointed by the unfortunate state in which it had been rendered in many regions, by both social hierarchies and extremism, and how, perhaps most unfortunately, so many Pakistanis remain in the dark from the light that is education- the key that could brighten their plight and give them the independence and sense of security they deserve. I remember the day you were shot very well. I walked into Froebel’s International School to be led into prayers by weeping teachers and classmates. I knew, two days later, travelling into Rawalpindi to see my family on Eid, that you lay unconscious in the CMH that I peered at through my car window, and I remained glued to the television for weeks urging your recovery. When you were shot, all the bad things that I had been subconsciously ignoring, became unavoidably real. When I came back to the United States two years later, I picked up your book excitedly, and didn’t put it down till I had read it from cover to cover. Your narrations of reality, history, your hopes and your inspirations entranced me- whenever I think of you and your story, Malala, my heart smiles. The minute I picked up your book was the minute I resolved to join you on your journey, and that year I did, raising awareness within my school and sending off a stipend of money in support of the Malala Fund. I used to feel insignificant in my endeavors, but the courage and the adamance you have has convinced me that even my lone voice is powerful. With every detail in your book, I became more deeply engulfed in your message and your mission- to give the universal right to education to all people- from girls in Pakistan to refugees in Syria. When I go to college in the next year, I’ve decided I want to study and create solutions for global poverty and illiteracy, as you do, and follow in your footsteps. I am so taken aback by your incredible strength and resolve, and your giving nature that never ceases to take action, even when faced with violent adversity. Your book, and who you are, inspires me, and I have found a role model in you. Being a Pakistani girl a mere three years older than me, you have shown me the extent of my personal capability, and the power of advocacy and compassion, lessons that have made me a better person, and that ground me in my endeavors. I would love to hear more of your thoughts through writing, for your book is so eloquent and comprehensive and has a unique personal voice. You amaze me Malala- may you be successful in all your endeavors.

Warm Regards,

Mina (Minahil) Farooqi

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