Saturday, November 10 was proclaimed Malala Day in honor of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for her ongoing activity in support of education for girls within Pakistan.
The photos posted on BBC News document vigils, demonstrations, and prayers throughout Pakistan. Men, women, and children bound together in support of this little girl and hope for the future.
Just days after the shooting, a short article published in The Express Tribune had an update on Pakistan’s reaction summed up in a phrase:
Yar darr mat, Malala bann (Don’t be scared, be a Malala).
It was a collective response to feeling helpless in the face of evil and wrong doing, and it was, and is, powerful! Throughout Karachi, one of the largest cities in Pakistan, this phrase was used and people responded.
Hearing about this response in Pakistan is heartening, it’s good news. Everyday our media sources bring us bad news from Pakistan, bad news delivered with smiles that show off perfect white teeth; bad news given with bad pronunciation of the word Pakistan; bad news delivered with no empathy or understanding of this country.
And then comes a Malala and we are given a glimpse of tremendous courage, a glimpse of someone who believes in something beyond her circumstances, and is moving forward in a trajectory that cannot be stopped. Moving forward and now carrying a country with her.
And it’s happening within Pakistan, by Pakistanis — without another country trying to impose an agenda and values and push change that would inevitably die. Change that comes from within is lasting change. Change imposed from without is not change at all, it’s imperialism. It’s arrogant thinking that walks in front of and not beside.
And this change is led by a 14-year-old girl who has a purpose and courage to carry out that purpose.
“Don’t be Scared – Be a Malala” is a call to courage for all of us, no matter where we live. A call to change what needs changing in our communities, in our towns, in our work places, in our places of worship — but most of all in ourselves. Because change comes from within.
*Photos courtesy of Tim Irwin and Jason Philbrick – fellow Third Culture Kids who share a love for Pakistan.