#MalalaDay and #GIRLWITHABOOK

MalalaDay

This past Friday was Malala Day. Malala Yousafzai visited the United Nations and addressed the UN Youth Assembly to advocate for peace and education. To see this girl standing at the podium speaking with such grace and confidence only 9 months after she was shot in the head by the Taliban was beyond incredible. Before that, UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown introduced her to the podium in the best possible way. He said something along the lines of “The Taliban never wished for you to hear these next words: Happy 16th Birthday!”

Malala talked about the need for peace and access to education for every single child. There should be no excuses for us not to work towards that goal. I felt tears sting my eyes when I heard this part of her speech:

Dear Friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.  I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.

Malala UN speech

If you missed her speech, not to worry! You can watch it here. And you can read the full text of her speech here.

Besides hearing Malala’s speech, we at #GIRLWITHABOOK received some phenomenal news from the UN! After several attempts of trying to get in touch with the Pakistani consulate in the UK and sending copies to the consulate, we were finally able to deliver our photo book to Malala! On Malala Day! We sent an additional copy to the UN a couple weeks ago after learning that Malala would be visiting the UN on her birthday, and then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave the book to her himself.


MalalaBook1MalalaBook2

You can see more pictures of Malala Day through the UN flickr account.

I think I’m still freaking out by the fact that Olivia and I actually managed to get this photo book into Malala’s hands. And none of it would have been possible without the support from hundreds of people from all over the world. #GIRLWITHABOOK would be nothing without the love that our followers shared through their pictures.

As for what our next plans are for #GIRLWITHABOOK…well we realized that we downright suck at fundraising. So we are working on building those skills and we’re hoping that eventually we can properly learn how to effectively bring in/contribute money to girls’ education, a cause we care about deeply.

Meanwhile, we are also in the process of creating a website/blog where we hope to establish an online community that is devoted to talking about women’s rights, the basics of feminism, the importance of education and the immense difference it can bring to a girl’s life. We haven’t gone public with it yet, but Inshallah (God willing) we plan on doing so within a couple weeks!

Stay tuned. This movement is just beginning.

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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!