Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, said she was “getting better day by day” in her first public statement released Monday.
The 15-year-old said she had 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 organised 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 headscarf and flicking through some of the cards sent to her by wellwishers. She also recorded a message in Urdu.
Malala was shot at point-blank range by a Taliban gunman as her school bus travelled through Pakistan’s Swat Valley on October 9, in an attack that drew worldwide condemnation.
Doctors say the bullet grazed Malala’s brain and travelled 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 this 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 her hearing in her left ear.
Malala first rose to prominence aged 11 with a blog for the BBC’s Urdu-language service charting her life under the Taliban.
Since her attempted murder, millions of people have signed petitions supporting her cause, and she has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, a UN special envoy for education, has also taken up her cause.
The hospital’s medical director Dave Rosser said on Monday that Malala was doing “very well” after spending about five hours in surgery and praised her for continuing to speak out for her cause.
Neurosurgeon Anwen White said that Malala did not need any more operations, would now continue with her rehabilitation and “hopefully she’ll be discharged fairly soon.”
Asked if there was any damage to Malala’s brain, White said: “She hasn’t got any long-lasting cognitive problems. There was a brain injury at the time of the wound but she’s healing very well.”
Before the latest operation Malala had left the hospital and had been staying with her parents and siblings who have joined her in Britain.
Her father has been given a job as education attache at Pakistan’s consulate in Birmingham, a city with a large Pakistani community. (AFP)