As someone who has always had easy access to an education, and growing up in a safe environment, it’s always been important to me to be aware that this is not the case for many people across the world. The four stories below are those of bravery, determination, and the wish to improve the lives for both themselves, and the people around them. They come from women who are alive today, to those who were alive during the period of the Second World War, and those who were alive during the prime of the Civil Rights Movement. Their stories come from North America, The Netherlands, North Korea, and Pakistan. These stories do not become less prevalent as time goes on, they only become more significant. I hope you take something away from each of these incredible stories.
I am Malala– Malala Yousafzai
Malala was born in Mingora, Pakistan, on the 12th of July 1997. Her father ran a school for girls in the village they lived in, he was also a teacher. The Taliban rule spread to the Swat Valley, where Malala and her family lived. In 2008, the extremists began to ban things such as playing music, owning a TV, and soon enough, girls were not allowed to go to school.
Malala began speaking out on the behalf of all the other girls who had a right to be educated, this made her a threat to the Taliban and a major target. In October 2012, she was shot in the head and woke up 10 days later in Birmingham, England.
Despite the trauma that Malala experienced, she remains heavily involved in fighting for equality, and now lives with her family in the UK. She is currently studying at the University of Oxford. In 2014, she was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Her book is extremely interesting, especially to hear about what it was like to live under the rule of the Taliban, and to have to watch many of the people and things you love be gradually taken away from you.
The Dairy of a Young Girl– Anne Frank
I’m sure most people are familiar with the story of Anne Frank, and her book ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’. Anne Frank, her family, and four other of their friends, went in to hiding in July 1942. Due to being Jewish, they were hiding to escape the Nazi occupation and hid in the back of a warehouse in Amsterdam, in what is known as the ‘Secret Annexe’. Anne’s book is a published edition of the diary that she kept for the two years she was in hiding. Hearing of someone of such a young age, who dreamed of being a published author, tell the story of the struggles of being terrified and stuck in one small place for two years, creates an extremely vivid picture of the horrors of living as a Jew under the rule of the Nazis.
The last entry Anne writes is on the 1st August 1944, they were discovered by the Nazis and arrested on the 4th of August, just three days after the last entry. Anne died in March 1945 in the German concentration camp of Bergen Belsen. She was only fifteen years old.
As well as reading her book, I would highly recommend visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, it is also an incredibly touching experience. Seeing the bookcase that concealed their hiding place for so long, and standing in the small rooms, imagining what Anne and the others felt like, was incredibly sad but an important way of remembering what so many people went through during the Second World War.
My Story– Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks was a black woman, born in Alabama, North America, 1913.
The 1st of December, 1955. On this day, Rosa refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white man, she was arrested for this. This one act of bravery sparked the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. The boycott began on Monday the 5th of December, this was the day of Parks’ trial, there were over 35,000 flyers created and sent home with black school children, telling their parents of the boycott.
The boycott didn’t end until the 20th of December, when the Supreme Court rules bus segregation as unconstitutional. Parks lost her job and experienced frequent harassment, and became known as the mother of the civil rights movement.
Rosa’s book details her life, and her drive to fight for racial equality.
In Order to Live– Yeonmi Park
Yeonmi Park was just thirteen when her and her family risked their lives by fleeing North Korea. She describes the horrors of living in such an oppressed regime, and the starvation and terror that never leaves. She also tells of her journey across the Gobi desert, her struggles of escaping to China, being separated from her family, and how she ends up in South Korea after all this. I think this resonated me with due to being a similar age to Yeonmi, her story shows incredible resilience and strength.
I hope each of these stories inspires you and that you take something from each of them.
Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,