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Malala releases first public statement

AFP-JIJI

In her first public statement released Monday, Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ educational rights, said she is “getting better day by day.”

The 15-year-old said she has been given a “second life” to campaign for girls to have the right to go to school, in a video statement recorded before she underwent surgery to repair her skull at a hospital in Britain on Saturday.

“Today you can see that I am alive. I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone and I am getting better day by day,” she said.

She spoke clearly in English, but displayed a lack of movement on the left side of her face.

She said: “It’s just because of the prayers of people. Because all people — men, women, children — all of them have prayed for me.

“And because of all these prayers God has given me this new life — a second life. And I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated. For that reason, we have organized the Malala Fund.”

The Malala Fund is a charity set up in late 2012 to promote education for girls.

In the video, Malala is wearing a head scarf and flicking through some of the cards sent to her by well-wishers. She also recorded a message in Urdu.

Malala was shot at point-blank range by a Taliban gunman as her school bus traveled through Pakistan’s Swat Valley on Oct. 9, in an attack that drew worldwide condemnation.

Doctors say the bullet grazed Malala’s brain and traveled through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder.

Surgeons in Pakistan saved her life with an operation to relieve the pressure on her brain before she was flown to Britain to be treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, central England.

The hospital has extensive experience of treating gunshot wounds suffered by British soldiers in Afghanistan.

In the surgery last weekend, Malala had a custom-made piece of titanium fitted to replace the missing part of her skull and surgeons also inserted an implant to help restore hearing in her left ear.

Malala first rose to prominence at the age of 11 with a blog for the BBC’s Urdu-language service charting her life under the Taliban.

Since the assassination attempt, millions of people have signed petitions supporting her cause, and she has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The hospital’s medical director, Dave Rosser, said Monday that Malala was doing “very well” after spending about five hours in surgery.