Chasing Malala’s Dad

I am finally writing my first post of 2013! It’s been difficult to write anything, not because of a lack of subjects to write on, but because my brain has been feeling overwhelmed lately by the number of topics that I want and should write about. Everything from the gang rape of the girl in India to gun violence to the chaos in Syria to a whole bunch of other things. But those posts will have to be for another day.

Instead, I just want to focus on an update from #GIRLWITHABOOK: the photo book for Malala has been published at last.

Photobook coverIMG_1842

We were able to get in contact with someone working at Shutterfly and they very graciously offered to donate 50 copies of the books to #GIRLWITHABOOK for free! Needless to say, Olivia and I were literally jumping up and down from excitement. And so we placed the order and about 4 days later, the books arrived on my doorstep.

Photobook boxes

They actually arrived a few weeks ago and since then, we have already sent copies to the United Nations as a thank you for their ongoing support.

However, we are still having trouble getting the book to Malala. That’s why the title of this post is “Chasing Malala’s Dad” because we want to try to get in contact with either her father or someone working at the Pakistani consulate in the United Kingdom to confirm with us that the book reaches Malala’s hands safely.

We’ve tried emailing and calling the consulate, but no one seems to be responding. So maybe all of you can help out. We’re turning to our trusted friend, Twitter, and we’ve created the hashtag #chasingMalalasdad to maybe draw some more attention to this incredible photo book (that could not have been possible without the support from hundreds of people around the world) and get Malala’s dad or someone from the consulate to respond to us.

Before I go on, I must give credit to my cousin, Fiza, since this was all her idea. She also came up with the brilliantly creative title and hashtag: chasing Malala’s dad.

#GIRLWITHABOOK started off with a desire to stand with Malala and show our support through pictures. And now this project is about doing what we can for girls’ education, whether it is through creating awareness or raising money.

We want Malala to see just how many boys and girls she has inspired worldwide. It would be a shame if she never got to see the photo book. Help us out and tweet about it using the hashtag #chasingMalalasdad. It’ll be fun either way!

Flipping through

By the way, we will be making an announcement soon about starting a fundraiser for girls’ education. If you haven’t already, like/follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the adventures of #GIRLWITHABOOK!

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November 10: A Day for Malala

I don’t know if you heard but UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, has declared November 10th to be a global day of action for Malala Yousafzai and 32 million other girls. In about a week, it will have been one month since the assassination attempt on Malala and Gordon Brown is traveling to Pakistan on that day to deliver a petition that’s got over a million signatures to President Zardari. This petition is proof that the people want education to be treated as a priority and that keeping girls out of school is not an option. If that interests you, you can sign the petition here: http://educationenvoy.org/petition

In a recent Huffington Post article, Gordon Brown wrote,

“When I hand him the petition I will ask the President to lead governmental changes in policy to ensure the delivery of girls’ education in Pakistan. I will also submit our petition to the United Nations to galvanize international support for the right of every child to go to school. I will announce in addition a new foundation in Malala’s honor as just a few weeks before her shooting she told her friends that her aim was to set up the Malala foundation to campaign for the 32 million girls around the world who are not at school. I am now appealing to the international community of global citizens to lead this day of action.

Well, #GIRLWITHABOOK is going to help. On November 10th, we invite everyone to submit another picture. This time though, we ask you to write a sign that says, “I stand with Malala” and take a picture of yourself holding it. On that day, we want hundreds of these pictures to flood our inbox, Facebook page, tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, you name it.

So what do you say? Will you join us?

Olivia and me

You can also email your pictures to girlwithabookmovement@gmail.com.

The pictures we received beforehand, as well as the ones we hope to receive on November 10th, are all going to be included in the book we are compiling and eventually sending to Malala. By the way, the deadline to submit pictures to us for the book is November 13th!

#GIRLWITHABOOK

Last Monday, my friend Olivia and I decided to launch this idea called #GIRLWITHABOOK. At the time we were venting to each other about how horrified and utterly disgusted we were by the Taliban’s sick attempt at killing Malala Yousafzai on her school bus, and we wanted to do something about it. We wanted to do something for Malala, and at the same time stick it to the Taliban. So Olivia says to me “Let’s get people to post pictures of themselves with books! A favorite book, a random book, a school book, you name it. And we’ll post it on facebook, twitter, etc. to show Malala our support.” My reaction: THIS IS AWESOME.

The Taliban showed what they are most afraid: A GIRL WITH A BOOK.

So that’s exactly what we did. We created a Facebook page, Pinterest board, Twitter account and a tumblr. It sounds excessive, but can you blame us? We wanted the whole world to show their support for Malala. And as they say…a picture is worth a thousand words.

The first thing we did was message and email our own friends. Anyone we knew, we told them about our idea. Slowly but surely we started receiving submissions from our friends and family. They took pictures of themselves holding books, reading to people, reading with their pets, or reading together with someone else. They sent them in and we posted them. The number of likes on Facebook increased from 10 to 40 to 120 to 200. We were getting supporters from all over the world, and including other organizations like the National Women’s History Museum. And then something even more amazing happened.

Half the Sky, a book written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, tweeted and posted on their Facebook wall about us. As a result, we got over 400 likes on our Facebook page in a single day. Half the Sky is now also a film, a game, and a movement. All of which are about “raising awareness and inspiring action to turn oppression to opportunity for women worldwide.” The outpouring of support after their post was incredible.

Within a single week, we managed to launch a movement of sorts. It all began with a 15 year old girl named Malala Yousafzai, but now she has come to symbolize the hope that education can bring to both girls and boys. She is the one who inspired and touched everyone’s hearts with her courage. My friend and I simply wanted to find a way to thank her and show her that we stand with her. We stand with Malala, we stand with all boys and girls who are fighting for a chance to learn. Education is everybody’s right, and I truly believe it is our duty to do whatever we can to make sure that everyone gets their chance.

As of today, on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM, we have 811 supporters on Facebook, about 51 followers on Twitter, 72 followers on Pinterest, and 17 followers on tumblr (our tumblr is fairly new compared to the others). With the help of other people who believe in Malala and what she fights for, we can achieve this. We can stop extremists from taking away our education, our freedom, our rights. In the end, they won’t win. We will.

Here’s some more exciting news. After we receive a significant number of pictures, Olivia and I plan on compiling all of them into a book and sending it to Malala. All of us are praying and wishing for her full recovery, and we thought this would be a great way for us to show just how much she has come to mean to us.

If you want to join the #GIRLWITHABOOK movement, please submit a picture of yourself with a book to girlwithabookmovement@gmail.com. Make sure to include the title of the book and the city, state, country that you took your picture

Feel free to post on our Facebook page or tweet at us @_girlwithabook as well. We invite submissions from girls, boys, men and women, because a cause like this needs support from everyone.

Here are some of my favorite pictures.

Malala Yousafzai: A Girl Worth Fighting For

I haven’t been this angry in a long time. Maybe I’ve never been this angry. On October 9, 2012, Taliban militants stopped a school bus filled with girls returning home from school and asked for a girl named Malala Yousafzai. Malala is a 14 year old girl from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. From the age of 11 years old, she has been an activist demanding for her right to have an education. She was forced to do that because the Taliban had been taking over Swat and blowing up girls schools and committing other atrocities. Whoever resisted, they beat them, humiliated them, shot them, beheaded them, and then left their corpses out in the streets for everyone to see. Despite all of this, Malala had the strength and courage to fight back by learning wherever she could whether it was at school or at home. Last year she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize by Yousaf Raza Gilani, the prime minister of Pakistan at that time.

So you can understand my horror and my fury when it was reported that these Taliban monsters hunted down a 14 year old girl and shot her simply because she wanted to go to school. Thankfully she is still alive and the bullet was retrieved when she underwent surgery, but she’s still fighting for her life. I’m amazed by her bravery and shocked that there are girls who are literally risking their lives just so they can read books and learn math. I doubt that many Americans think twice about how precious an education really is while riding their bus to school. I know I never did. I never had to fight for the right to learn because it was always a given in my life.

A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, justified their actions by saying, “She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it,” Mr. Ehsan said, adding that if she survived, the militants would certainly try to kill her again. “Let this be a lesson.”

All day I’ve been cursing in my head at these disgusting creatures who dare to call themselves men. No, they’re not even human. I hate them. I actually hate them. Who does shit like this, let alone justifies it? And I’m even more frustrated at the fact that I feel completely helpless. For everything that the Taliban has done, for all the lives they have destroyed…I hope they get what’s coming to them. Something far worse than death. I thought I would only read about such brutality in history books, not the news.

Please read and watch this video by Adam B. Ellick and Irfan Ashraf about Malala and her father Ziauddin, who is a schoolteacher and a huge advocate for girls’ education. My ‘Small Video Star’ Fights for Her Life

For anyone who wants to help Malala through her recovery and her family, please donate here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/250706