Malala Yousufzai: I'll keep up fight for girls' education

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LONDON -- In her first video statement since she was nearly killed, a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban remained defiant in arguing for girls' education, saying she would keep up the same campaign that led to the attack on her.

Speaking clearly but with the left side of her face appearing rigid, Malala Yousufzai, 15, said she is "getting better, day by day" after weeks of treatment at a British hospital.

"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," she said in the video, recorded Jan. 22 and made available Monday by a public relations firm.

The Malala Fund is a girls' education charity set up in late 2012 by international nonprofit Vital Voices.

Malala was shot in the head by Taliban militants on Oct. 9 while on a bus on her way home from school in northwestern Pakistan, drawing the world's attention. The Islamist group said it targeted her because she promoted girls' education and "Western thinking" and she criticized the militants' taking over of the scenic Swat Valley where she lived.

The shooting sparked outrage in Pakistan and many other countries, and her story captured global attention for the struggle for women's rights in her homeland. The teen made the short list for Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2012.

"Today you can see that I am alive. I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone," Malala 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."

In Pakistan, the video was repeated over and over, in Urdu, Pashto and English, and was supplemented with interviews with two other girls injured in the attack, Kainat Riaz and Shazia Rehman, who expressed joy at their friend's recovery. "We are with Malala, we are with her mission," Shazia said.

Malala was flown to England in October for specialized medical care and protection against further Taliban threats. She is expected to remain in the U.K. for some time as her father, Ziauddin, has secured a post with the Pakistani consulate in Birmingham.

Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital said it successfully operated to reconstruct her skull. Doctors said Malala also had a cochlear implant to restore the hearing in her left ear.

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Both operations were completed Saturday. Dr. Anwen White, a neurosurgeon who led the operations, said the teen does not require any further operations and can hopefully return to school soon.

"She should be feeling sorry for herself 24 hours after an operation like that, not talking about helping other people," said Dave Rosser, the hospital's medical director.

With McClatchy Newspapers

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