Malala !

“Malala Day!” We heard about it for weeks. “Malala Day is coming!”

Malala. A fifteen-year-old girl was shot on the left side of the head on a school bus in Pakistan last year. All she wanted to do was go to school. All the Taliban wanted to do was stop her.

Malala survived to celebrate her sixteenth birthday last Friday at the United Nations in New York City amidst a gathering of several hundred young people from over 80 countries, all there to call out for education for all children. Even girls.

Our daughter, Annika, was privileged to be there and to live tweet the event for the Campaign for Global Education. She didn’t meet Malala, who was closely guarded, but she did meet young people, some of them just children in their teens, from Burundi and heaven knows where all else, and hear their inspiring stories of taking life in their own hands and making sure they had the education they believed they were entitled to have.

It was a day overflowing with inspiration and energy – perhaps you caught a fragment on the news – and hopefulness. I lived it vicariously by following Annika’s tweets and imagining life in the General Assembly Room of the UN and in the hallways and conferences rooms and cafeterias. I felt as though I was there. It was wonderful! Malala Day!

We are so very interconnected to the world. We can be. Just as these children are claiming their right to education, we partner with them through church and other organizations to make it possible for every child to have an education.

Which brings me to Paris Elementary. Very close to home. While it is hard to know what all we can do for children in Pakistan and Burundi (though we can do things for them), it is much easier for us to partner with Paris Elementary as we do every fall with our gifts of backpacks, school supplies and prayer. By giving them these tools, we help them get the education they so desperately need. Education is a key to a future. A future with hope, as the prophet Jeremiah says. God’s gift to us all – whether the need be education or healing or peace – is a future with hope.

We can celebrate our own Malala Day in a few weeks as we gather up pencils and paper, rulers and protractors, backpacks and prayer, to give these students in our very own backyard a gift from God. That’s who it comes from, you know, through you. A future with hope. Let’s be generous, as God is generous with us. And give hope.

Jan Erickson-Pearson

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