“What is it about a fourteen-year-old educated girl that is so scary to a man with a gun?” asked Daraja Academy cofounder Jason Doherty Monday night when Daraja girls gathered to learn about and show their support for Malala Yousafzai. On October 9th, the Taliban attempted to assassinate fourteen-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala for promoting girls’ education. Malala was on a bus in her Pakistani region of Swat with other schoolchildren when the Taliban gunmen stopped and boarded the bus, demanding to know which child was Malala. She was shot in the head and neck, and while she is likely to recover, people around the world are rallying behind her to show their support for her courageous cause.
Girls at Daraja know why Malala scares the Taliban. “When the men see the spirit in the girl they see that she can be the light of the other women and she’ll change them and cause them to change,” hypothesized Naomi F2. This idea seemed to be the general consensus. All 104 Daraja girls sat together in Daraja’s patio and talked about fear of change – Irene N. (F 2) said that if one woman educates other women, she creates a generation of empowered women. Men, then, might lose their control, and that may be why the Taliban is scared. The girls brainstormed various ways to generate ways of showing support on Daraja’s campus to remind them everyday of Malala.
They were then posed with the question: “What can Daraja do to let her know that she’s not alone?” One group of fourteen girls and two teachers sat together to discuss these questions. Dianah F1 suggested reaching out to the community to teach people about their rights, so that the work of Malala stays fresh in Daraja girls’ minds as they continue her work. Yvonne F1 suggested praying for her, and also creating art on some of the large stones around campus to remind girls of her whenever they see the art. Teacher Caroline thought that something symbolic – doing something that girls would see, do, and remember daily – would be helpful, like planting a tree. Alice F1 wanted to draw a picture of Malala and hang it in the dining hall, and Euphresia F2 suggested lighting a candle and ensuring it stays lit.
The girls also had many ideas as to how Daraja could show Malala support, so that she knows that she is not alone in her mission of educating girls. Yvonne wanted to email Malala a motivating quote so that she knows Daraja girls are thinking of her. Leila F4 suggested creating a video of the Daraja girls and sending it to her. Naomi’s idea was to write letters to show that Daraja girls have overcome their own experiences to show Malala that she’s not alone in facing such challenges. Other ideas including making a CD with songs about girls’ education; creating a movie about WISH class (Women of Integrity, Strength, and Empowerment) with interviews about Daraja girls’ lives before them came to high school; writing a story about Malala’s life; and sending her videos of other girls around the world who have faced similar challenges (for example, Anita the Beekeeper from India – see her story here).
The girls have also been thinking of ways to show Malala that Daraja cares about girls’ education. That afternoon, and the next day at Form 4’s WISH class, the creative high school seniors were asked what they could create for Malala. Videos? Pictures? Songs? The girls were left to ponder two things: first, that Malala was a promoter of rights for human beings, and not just rights for select people based on gender or age. Second, the question is: if we only hear one person speaking out, does that imply that everyone else agrees with the ignorant and fearful sect of people? Daraja girls don’t think so, and they’re going to prove it to Malala.Check out the song the Form 4s made for Malala.