Najlaa overcame forced marriage and terrorists, but getting to school is still difficult.

(Courtesy of Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund)

(Courtesy of Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund)

19-year-old Najlaa discusses the many barriers she faced in going to school including her family, child marriage and even ISIS.

My name is Najlaa. I am 19 years old. I am Yazidi from Iraq.

When I was 14 years old, I was taken out of school and told that I must marry. I didn’t know anything about the man — I didn’t ask. I knew that I was too young.

I tried for weeks to convince my parents that I shouldn’t marry. It didn’t work. So I ran away on my wedding day, still in my wedding dress. I took off my heels so I could run faster.

Girls should be students, not brides.

My education has not been easy. Three years ago, terrorists invaded our village in the middle of the night and my family had to flee. My brother and I were both shot.

I am now back in school, but I have to walk over an hour each way. I go to school because I hope to become a journalist. I walk with other girls — each one with her own dream.



Najlaa is a 19-year-old Yazidi student from Iraq. She hopes to become a journalist after she completes her education.