Malala's Mission: The Malala Fund

Malala said her goal was to help all girls who want an education.

October 07, 2013, 7:25 AM
PHOTO: Malala Yousafzai,11, with her friends at summer camp.
Malala Yousafzai,11, with her friends at summer camp.
Courtesy of Myra Iqbal

Oct. 7, 2013— -- "People have prayed to God to spare me, and I was spared for a reason -- to use my life for helping people" -- from " I Am Malala."

Exactly one year ago this week, a gunman boarded a schoolbus in Pakistan and shot a 15-year-old girl in the head at point-blank range because she wanted the right to go to school.

It was a crime so horrific it sent shockwaves around the world. "I don't think there is anybody I know who didn't shed a tear or didn't cry, " said former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. "The idea that a girl, simply for going to school or wanting to go to school, was shot by the Taliban, it's just so unspeakable."

"When I heard she had been shot, I just remember repeating in my head "What did they do? How could they do this?" said Shiza Shahid, a close family friend.

Shahid was a student at Stanford University in 2009 when she first saw the documentary "Class Dismissed" by Adam Ellick of The New York Times. The documentary followed Malala and her family when the Taliban shut down Malala's school.

"I reached out to her because I was worried about her security," Shahid told ABC News. "Her father says the first thing I said was, 'Are you safe? How can I help?'"

"I was spared for a reason -- to use my life for helping people" -- from " I Am Malala."

Shahid created a summer camp for Malala and 26 of her classmates in Islamabad where they could escape the stress and fear of living under the Taliban. But even then, 11-year-old Malala was determined to fight back. "She was incredibly defiant, and she was not willing to back down until she had what she believed was her right," Shahid said.

"She always knew that she was risking her life."

'Tell Them to Help the Other Malalas'

When Malala was critically wounded after the Taliban's assassination attempt, Shahid again reached out to her family to help.

"At first, the only thing we cared about was Malala's health," Shahid said. " But once she woke, it was clear that she was still very much the same girl she was before she was shot, but with greater strength and a greater desire to do good. So I brought to her a lot of the requests that were coming in -- to help her, to donate, to do something -- and she said, 'I'm OK. Tell them to help other Malalas.'"

One of the calls came from Google X Vice President Megan Smith. "It's not OK to attack someone like this, especially a child," said Smith, who was at a Google Zeitgeist conference when she heard the news.

Smith and others at the conference, including Silicon Valley techies, serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, an Oscar-winning filmmaker, even astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, sprang into action, offering their help with everything from medical referrals to fundraising. A core group decided to create a sort of "angel investing" team for Malala that could help her realize her dream to help educate girls once she recovered.

"One of our hopes was to work with Malala on her vision to really make more access to education and empowerment of young girls around the world, in Pakistan and anywhere," Smith said. "This idea that education is a human right, it's really important."

'Let Us Turn 40 Girls Into 40 Million Girls'

Within weeks, the Malala Fund was born. Malala's first grant went to helping 40 girls in her village between the ages of 5 and 12 to go to school instead of working in domestic labor.

"Let us turn the education of 40 girls into 40 million girls," Malala said in a video statement announcing the grant at the Women in the World summit in New York City.

"[The grant] is very successful, and Malala is skyping with the girls on a regular basis and mentoring them," said Shahid, who is now executive director of the fund. "Moving forward, we hope to expand our projects to other parts of the world, focusing on developing countries where there is a high proportion of out-of-school girls and investing in local innovative solutions that can scale."

In her exclusive interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Malala said her goal was to help all girls who were out of school who want an education. "We want to help them, to help those children, make schools for them, to build schools."

Yet the 16-year-old Malala, who is the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Prize, acknowledged that educating all children may be too big a job, even for her.

"That's why I want to become a politician, " she told Sawyer. "Because if I make the Malala Fund, if it builds even 200 schools, it can't educate the whole country. The important thing is that the government ... must make education compulsory for every child. And they must build schools."

What You Can Do to Help:

The Malala Fund, led by Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, focuses on helping girls go to school and encouraging them to raise their voices for the right to education. The fund has three key objectives:

How to Get Involved:

The Malala Fund is asking people to take a photo or record a short video message explaining why they are standing with Malala and raising their voices to give power to girls everywhere. People can share their photos and videos via @MalalaFund on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #IamMalala.

You can take a picture holding a sign that says #IamMalala, or record a short video message and share your "#IamMalala because ..." story.

Recommended Tweets Include:

Other Ways to Help:

These organizations are all working to help educate and empower girls around the world.

Girl Rising is a global action campaign dedicated to driving donations to help girls gain access to education.

Girl Up is a United Nations Foundation campaign dedicated to giving American girls the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for UN programs that help the world's hardest-to-reach adolescent girls.

Plan International is one of the oldest and largest children's development organizations in the world that works to promote child rights and lift children out of poverty.

World at School is a new digital mobilization initiative that works towards achieving global education.

Girl Effect is a movement about leveraging the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves, their families, their communities, their countries and the world.

Developments in Literacy educates and empowers underprivileged students, especially girls, by operating student-centered model schools; and provides high-quality professional development to teachers and principals across Pakistan.

Global Citizens in Action is an international NGO whose mission is to foster dialogue and understanding among the world's youth.

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