Girls shot along Malala head to Edinburgh university
What happened to other two girls who were accompanied by Malala Yousufzai in October 2012…?
It’s Malala who rose to fame in the aftermath of the fateful incident on a Tuesday in October 2012, as most of us inherently forgetting that the day changed three lives not one.
Kainat Riaz, then 15, and Shazia Ramzan, 14, were accompanying Malala while she was travelling home in a vehicle after a chemistry exam in Mingora when Taliban intercepted the vehicle and fired upon them.
Shazia recalls staring out the window and daydreaming while Kainat was excitedly discussing the answers, none of them had thought of an incident which would change their life thereafter.
“The Taliban stopped us, two boys – or men,” says Shazia. “One was in the front and the other one came to the back. He said: ‘Who is Malala?’ We had our faces covered [with veils], but Malala didn’t.
“We were looking at him and then he shot Malala in the forehead. He shot me on my hand and shoulder, and Kainat’s shoulder as well. Then he started shooting randomly.”
Kainat recalls seeing Malala fall to the floor and hearing other classmates’ screams.
The teenagers then were rushed to the hospital.
While doctors checked on Malala and Shazia, Kainat says she ran home to her father, a headmaster, and mother, a mid-wife, and remembers telling her parents, “Malala died”.
“I was lost,” she says softly. “I could not sleep because whenever I closed my eyes I thought that guy was going to come and shoot me again.”
Following the attack, Shazia remained in the military hospital for a month, Kainat’s family took her to a local hospital while Malala, who suffered life-threatening injuries, was flown to the UK for surgery.
The world became aware of Malala and the attack on her within hours. She has been honoured by the world, received Nobel Peace Prize, became the youngest UN Ambassador of Peace and recently was given Honoury citizenship of Canada.
In contrast, Kainat and Shazia dealt with the aftermath in obscurity. The girls returned home to hostile attitudes – their neighbours wanted them gone since they were now on the Taliban’s hit-list, their drivers refused to take them to school.
Feeling forgotten, the 19 and 20-year-old were pleasantly surprised when their friend Malala extended a scholarship to study at the international boarding school UWC Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales to her friends in Pakistan – one that she had received.
One year after the incident, Kainat and Shazia moved to the UK for high school on a full scholarship. They availed their visas with the help of UN special envoy on global education, Gordon Brown.
But that was not the end of the certainty, the girls now had to adapt and change adhering to the life-style. “Back home, you have to go anywhere with your father, mother or brother, because you are a girl,” said Shazia. “Now I can eat pasta and pizza, which I couldn’t even look at before,” adds Kainat.
The two are now ready to head to university and have both received offers to study nursing at Edinburgh. Brown, who has become a mentor, is helping find sources of funding. Malala, on the other hand, has received an offer from a top institution, likely to be Oxford.
The girls feel proud of how far Malala has come, they meet every now and then. “We are really proud,” says Shazia, “we follow her and we will follow her in the future.”
When Malala mentioned them in her speech at the Nobel Laureate in 2014, the teenagers were humbled. “I am not a lone voice. I am many. I am Malala, but I am also Shazia. I am Kainat,” Malala had said.
Both Shazia and Kainat see a future in Pakistan – they want to restart their campaign for education back home. “I believe I should go back to my country and try to make change there,” Kainat insists.
The article originally appeared on The Telegraph