LONDON: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, said she was “getting better day by day” in her first public statement released yesterday.
The 15-year-old said she had been given a “second life” to campaign for girls to have the right to go to school, in a video recorded before she underwent surgery to repair her skull at a hospital in Britain on Saturday.
“Today you can see that I am alive. I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone and I am getting better day by day,” she said.
She spoke clearly in English, but displayed a lack of movement on the left side of her face.
“It’s just because of the prayers of people. Because all people — men, women, children — all of them have prayed for me.
“And because of all these prayers God has given me this new life — a second life. And I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated. For that reason, we have organised the Malala Fund.” The fund is a charity set up in late 2012 to promote education for girls.
In the video, Malala was wearing a headscarf and flicking through some cards sent by well-wishers. She also recorded a message in Urdu.
Malala was shot at point-blank range by a Taliban gunman as her school bus travelled through Pakistan’s Swat Valley on October 9, in an attack that drew worldwide condemnation.
Doctors say the bullet grazed her brain and passed through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder.
Surgeons in Pakistan saved her life with an operation to relieve the pressure on her brain before she was flown to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, central England. The hospital has extensive experience of treating gunshot wounds suffered by British soldiers in Afghanistan.
In the latest surgery, Malala had a custom-made piece of titanium fitted to replace the missing part of her skull and surgeons also inserted an implant to help restore her hearing in her left ear.
Malala first rose to prominence at 11 with a blog for the BBC’s Urdu-language service charting her life under the Taliban.
Since her attempted murder, millions of people have signed petitions supporting her cause, and she has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, a UN special envoy for education, has also taken up her cause. AGENCIES