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.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you will be aware that where I live in Port Talbot we have been creating a community garden, in memory of lives lost at the nearby steel works. Yesterday we were joined for an hour by several members of Swansea’s rugby team, the Ospreys, to shift several tons of topsoil, in order that planting could finally begin. As the work proceeded, the subject of youth volunteering came up, and how – despite the negative press that young people so often get – there are many around the country who are doing a fantastic job of supporting their local communities.
And as if further evidence was needed that youth volunteering is alive and well, here in this part of the UK, I read today about an excellent initiative organised in North Wales, over Easter, by Student Volunteering Bangor (SVB) – part of Bangor University Students’ Union. Eighteen students from the University, joined by two from Aberystwyth University, spent a week living and working at the Felin Uchaf social enterprise near Aberdaron, on the Lleyn Peninsula, where they helped erect a new timber-framed building, destined to house a library, archive and visitor centre. They also participated in land-management tasks such as willow coppicing, dry stone walling and planting, as well as traditional cooking.
For the last nine years the Felin Uchaf charity has been renovating a traditional Welsh farmhouse and its surrounding lands into a community enterprise and visitor centre, where they explore and promote green business initiatives and rural enterprises, and other ways of living in harmony with the environment.
This was the first such event organised by SVB, which was encouraged by the warm welcome the volunteers received at Felin Uchaf, and the team-working experience that the project gave the students, who came from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. It’s always great to hear such examples of how young people are helping to create a harmonious and sustainable future for society, and especially here in Wales. Well done, SVB!
And of course… many thanks to the Ospreys team members for their hard work at the garden, yesterday, despite the slightly adverse weather!
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.
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.
Last week two teens from Grantham, South Kesteven (Lincolnshire, UK) were recognised for their coaching and volunteering work in the sport of badminton.
Photo (L-R): Laura Graves, Badminton England player of the year Chris Adcock, and Tracey Lamb.
Laura Graves and Tracey Lamb were named Young Coach of the Year and Young Volunteer of the Year, respectively, at the National Badminton Awards on Friday 15 March, at the Birmingham International Convention Centre.
Laura qualified as a Level One coach just under a year ago, and gives weekly badminton sessions at her school, KGGS, where she is the appointed student badminton officer, as well as running BISI festivals for primary schoolchildren and coaches at South Kesteven Badminton Academy. In addition, she coaches at junior holiday camps, helps organise a weekly pay and play adult session, and is involved with the sports charity Inspire+.
Tracey is also involved with the Inspire+ student leadership programme, through which she has organised a training session for 250 young ambassadors and delivered a presentation to Lord Coe. She is also joint organiser (and a lead presenter) of the East Midlands Young Leaders Camp, which is now in its third year, and is a member of the Youth Sport Trust Ambassador National Steering Group.