Malala shares why she wrote her newest book
When I close my eyes and think of my childhood, I see pine forests and snow-capped mountains; I hear rushing rivers; I feel the calm beneath my feet. Swat Valley, once known as the Switzerland of the East, is the backdrop to all my happiest childhood memories — running in the streets with my classmates, listening to my mother chatting over afternoon tea in our home and my father discussing politics with friends.
That began to change in 2004. I was only 6 years old so I didn’t notice anything at first, but when I think back on those years, my memories are tinged with the fear that I know must have been growing in my parents’ eyes. And then five years later, my beloved Swat was no longer safe and we were forced from our home along with hundreds of thousands of others.
Today, there are more than 68.5 million people currently living as refugees or internally displaced people, their memories of home are also clouded by the reasons they had to flee. In my new book, “We Are Displaced,” I share my story of being displaced — and the stories of other girls who, just like me, were forced from their homes by conflict, poverty and discrimination.
This special issue of Assembly features displaced girls around the world. You will hear from young women like María from Colombia, who also appears in my book. When I met María a year ago, she told me about the guerrilla fighters who killed her father over a land dispute — and how her family has been forced to move eight times since. Also in this issue, 14-year-old Rawan describes fleeing Syria to escape conflict and how her mother saved her from an unwanted marriage. And 14-year-old Aseel shares how she is speaking out for every Palestine refugee’s right to learn.
It is for María, Rawan, Aseel and the millions of other displaced girls that I wrote this book. And it is for them that I fight. Because every girl should live in a world where they can learn and lead without fear.
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Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani student and the youngest Nobel laureate. She co-founded Malala Fund to create a world where all girls can learn and lead.