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We Are Displaced

My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World

By Malala Yousafzai
15-minute read
Audio available
We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai

In We Are Displaced (2018), international activist Malala Yousafzai shares her story of becoming displaced from her homeland of Pakistan. She also shares the stories of some of the women and girls she has met while visiting refugee camps across the globe. With over 68.5 million people currently displaced from their homes worldwide, these stories are a vivid and important reminder of the individuality and humanity of each and every displaced person.

  • Anyone interested in the stories of refugees
  • People inspired by the resilience of women and girls
  • Those looking to dig deeper into the causes of displacement

Malala Yousafzai is an activist and the founder of the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization that advocates for women’s education. Originally from Pakistan, she currently lives in the United Kingdom, where she is studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University. She was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. At just 17 years old, she was the youngest person ever to receive the prize.

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We Are Displaced

My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World

By Malala Yousafzai
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai
Synopsis

In We Are Displaced (2018), international activist Malala Yousafzai shares her story of becoming displaced from her homeland of Pakistan. She also shares the stories of some of the women and girls she has met while visiting refugee camps across the globe. With over 68.5 million people currently displaced from their homes worldwide, these stories are a vivid and important reminder of the individuality and humanity of each and every displaced person.

Key idea 1 of 9

Malala’s happy childhood home was a paradise, but religious extremism changed everything.

What does paradise look like? Maybe a natural landscape full of pine trees, snow-capped mountains and running rivers? Well, Malala Yousafzai knows a place like this well: Pakistan’s Swat valley. When she was a child, Swat was so beautiful it was often referred to as “the Switzerland of the East.”

Malala was born in 1997 in Mingora, the central city in Swat. Her childhood was a happy one, and her memories are full of play with friends and visits to extended family in the mountain village of Shangla. Malala’s father was an activist with a passion for the environment and education for girls.

Then, in 2005, a devastating earthquake hit Pakistan, killing 73,000 people and leaving many more vulnerable. It was under these circumstances that people became more susceptible to the messages of male religious extremists, who also provided aid to survivors. These men called the earthquake a divine warning and used it as a pretext for preaching a strict version of Islam. They called for women to cover their faces, denounced music, dancing and Western movies, and even said that the education of girls was un-Islamic.

This version of Islam made no sense to people like Malala and her family, but that didn’t matter. The extremists’ influence and power grew, and eventually, they joined with the Taliban, who had previously not been a threat in Pakistan. When men with long beards and black turbans began showing up in the streets, everyone was afraid. They knew about the connection between these men and the Taliban and their intent to enforce extreme ideas.

Malala first encountered the Taliban in person on a road trip to Shangla. Her cousin had just started to play a cassette tape when he spotted a roadblock staffed by black-turbaned men with machine guns. Passing all his tapes to Malala’s mother, he told her to hide them in her handbag. When the car reached the roadblock, one of the men leaned in and asked if they had any cassettes or CDs; her cousin said no.

Moving to the rear window, the man again poked his head inside the car and sternly told Malala that she should cover her face. She wanted to ask why, because she was just a child, but the men had guns, and she was terrified. The men waved their car through, but clearly, things had changed in Swat – and they were about to get much, much worse.

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