Despite living millions of miles away in her now adopted British home, Malala Yousafzai has not abandoned her campaign to ensure the right of girls to attend school. In fact, the teenager, who was targeted last year by extremists and shot in the head on her way home form school, has launched her own charity that will help to educate 40 girls – aged four to 12 – in her native home Pakistan.
“Today I’m going to announce the happiest moment of my life and that is the first grant of the Malala Fund. In Swat Valley, in my motherland, we are going to educate 40 girls. I invite all of you to support Malala Fund and let us turn the education of 40 girls into 40 million girls,” Malala, who now attends school in Birmingham, said as she unveiled her charity this week.
The 15-year-old has received substantial financial backing from her celebrity friends, which includes actress and United Nations special envoy, Angelina Jolie.
Jolie paid tribute to the young campaigner at a star-studded gala for Women in the World Summit in New York last week. The actress then unveiled a video of Malala, in which the young girl announced the launch of her charity, and revealed she was pledging US$45,000 to the cause.
“All that mattered to Malala was going to school. Here’s what they [her attackers] accomplished: they shot her point-blank range in the head – and made her stronger. The brutal attempt to silence her voice made it stronger,” Jolie, told the audience, which included Hilary Clinton, as she introduced the video.
The movie star recently made a personal donation of $200,000 to the Malala Fund, in addition to the $50,000 she pledged last October, to assist the young girl after her shooting in Pakistan.
As yet, the organisation has not been named for security reasons – the Taliban have publicly declared that they will continue to target the schoolgirl. But what is certain is that the funds will provide financial support to the families of young girls, who are forced to go to work instead of seeking an education at school.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars were donated to the fund in the wake of Malala’s attack, which received worldwide condemnation.
After months of surgery and treatment, which included an implant for loss of hearing to her left ear, Malala now attends school at Edgbaston High School for Girls – the Pakistani Government agreeing to pay her school fees.