At the beginning of the year I posted an article here about the brave 15-year-old schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, who defied the Taliban and fought for the right of young women to receive schooling in her home country of Pakistan. This was followed, a couple of months ago, by an update, revealing that having partially recovered from the assassination attempt she had now resumed her education at a Birmingham (UK) school.
This week the young lady’s bravery was recognised in Oklahoma City, USA, where her father Ziauddin accepted on her behalf (as well as his own) the Reflections of Hope Award, which is given annually by the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in honour of the 168 victims of the 1995 federal building bombing.
In accepting the award Mr Yousafzai, who is now the education attaché at the Pakistani Consulate in Birmingham, described the Taliban as being “more afraid of the books than bombs”, and explained that terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombings last month are a regular occurrence in Pakistan, where the Taliban had claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people over the last thirty years. “My part of the world is bleeding”, he said. “I’m here to bring my people out of terrorism…We should defeat bad ideas with good ideas.”
He dedicated the award to those fathers, brothers, sons and husbands “who believe and who accept and who respect their daughters, their sisters, their mothers and their wives.” He said he was honoured to be widely known in Pakistan as Malala’s father, despite its being a male-dominated society.
Although unable to be present at the award ceremony Malala sent along a recorded acceptance speech, in which she referred to the encouragement that the Oklahoma memorial offered in the battle for girls’ rights, worldwide, to receive an education. “Every girl, every child, to be educated”… as she has previously said.
Having recently completed the ASIST course (suicide first aid) I am acutely aware of the high incidence of suicide here in the UK, as in other countries. I am also conscious of the impact that it can have on families and friends. Many of us personally know people who have been affected in this way.
So it was particularly timely to read today of a nine-year-old from Southend, Essex (UK) who – two years on from his father’s suicide – has only just managed to come to terms with the loss, and has now begun a fundraising bid in his memory.
Ben Gotts suffered from severe depression, and despite having a deep bond with his young son Mason, took his own life in 2011, shortly after being released from a mental health unit. Mason and his mother Lisa were devastated by the tragedy, and it is only very recently that the young lad has felt able to visit his father’s grave. On doing so, he was disappointed to see that it was marked simply by a small plastic sign, whereas all the surrounding graves had headstones. He made up his mind to rectify this, and is planning to raise £1000 for “a big black headstone” with the inscription “Thank you for being my daddy. I love you loads.”
So he will be undertaking a 12-mile beach fundraising walk this month, from Shoeburyness to Chalkwell (and back), on what would have been his father’s 41st birthday. A touching tribute, and one which definitely deserves support. To sponsor Mason, call Lisa (07453 323410) or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any excess funds raised will be donated to Southend Mind.
And while we are on the subject of suicide… if you ever get the chance to take the ASIST course (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), I would highly recommend it. One day you might come across someone contemplating suicide, and you could perhaps be instrumental in saving their life, if you have been suitably trained. Check out LivingWorks’ main (Canadian) website at www.livingworks.net for further details.
When the summer arrives, most teenagers will be relaxing, enjoying their holidays with mates – especially if they have just come to the end of their high school education. But eighteen-year-old Charlotte Adams from Southend, Essex (UK) will be heading off to India for a month, to work with the charitable trust Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta (EMC) … which for nearly thirty years has been offering rehabilitation services for single parents who live on the streets; setting up and running health centres; and working in orphanages and slums, fighting poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy.
Charlotte, who currently attends Southend High School for Boys, has to raise a total of £2,200 to make the trip. So far she has achieved just over half of this from fundraising and savings out of her part-time tutoring job. Now she has started selling her personal belongings on eBay to raise the extra funds: so far she has sold a significant percentage of her own wardrobe, as well as various other items.
Christian-motivated EMC is inspired by the belief that “each individual has intrinsic value and deserves respect and dignity”. This is something that we believe, too, here at the Chreda Foundation. We also believe that young people have much to offer the world, and it’s great to see this latest example of the kind of selfless activities that so many of them are engaged in. This is exactly the kind of altruism that we will be seeking to encourage when we introduce the Chreda Prize at the end of this year.
Award winners with West Dorset District Council chairwoman Gillian Summers.
Throughout January, and into mid-February, residents of West Dorset were invited to nominate young people and groups from the county who had made a difference to their community by voluntarily giving of their time to help locally. The achievements of the nominees were then honoured a fortnight ago at an event entitled ‘Chairman’s Awards: Young Volunteer Champions’, held at the West Dorset District Council Offices, South Walks House, Dorchester.
The Young Community Champion award, for an individual aged 13-18, went jointly to Jess Element from Dorchester and Jacob Neal from Beaminster. Jess supports local young swimmers, is an active member of numerous swimming groups, clubs and sessions, and now trains and teaches regularly. Jacob cares for his mother and is an adult leader with the Scout Association, where he has been volunteering for the last ten years.
The Senior Young Champion award, for an individual aged 19-25, was won by Freddie Higgs from Cerne Abbas. Freddie is a young adult leader at Cerne Valley Youth Club and Cerne Abbas Scout Group. Freddie took full responsibility for running the club and its fundraising activities when the leader fell ill last year.
The Youth Group Champion award went to Sherborne Skate Park Group, who campaigned for three years to keep their skate park open, while they raised £187,000 in order to replace it with a new modern one.
In presenting the awards Council Chairwoman Gillian Summers said: “I want to congratulate all the people nominated for Young Volunteer Champion awards. We had so many worthy entries. I am delighted to thank these fantastic young people in this way for the help they have given to their community. It is brilliant that so many are prepared to give their time to make a real difference.”
Brave 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban attempt on her life five months ago, after she defied a ban on girls’ education in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, has now resumed her education at Edgbaston High School for Girls, in Birmingham, England.
Malala was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, last year, as she travelled to school. This was in revenge for her outspoken blog, which she had been writing since the age of 11.
But last week the teen – whose quiet defiance has won her the admiration of people around the world – walked to school safely with her father. She told reporters “I want to learn about politics and about social rights, about law, about how to bring change in this world and to work for the happiness and education of all girls. I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school. I want all girls in the world to have this basic opportunity. I miss my classmates from Pakistan very much but I am looking forward to meeting my teachers and making new friends here in Birmingham.”
Her new school uniform, she said, proved that she was a student: she added, proudly, “I’m going to school. I’m learning.”
We are delighted to bring you this update, here at Generosity News.
Malala’s father Ziauddin is currently serving as education attaché at the Pakistani Consulate in Birmingham, where the family now lives.