Malala's best friend needs courage every day to go to school

Kainat Riaz speaking from Pakistan's Swat Valley Credit: ITV News

Kainat Riaz needs to draw on courage every day just to leave her house and walk past the armed guards at her front door to go to school.

Her life is in danger because she wants to learn.

She is already recovering from a bullet wound after being caught in the attack on her best friend, Malala Yousufzai. But she won’t be cowed.

Her mother is a doctor and this young girl wants to grow up and become a doctor too.

For that to happen, she tells me emphatically, you HAVE to study and you most definitely have to go to school.

"I want to grow up and help people,” she told me a webcam from her home in Mingora in the Swat valley. “They won’t stop me. I want to learn more, more, more."

Kainat’s example is inspirational, and she isn’t alone.

She is one of thousands of girls in the north-western region of Pakistan that the Taliban hoped to terrify into submission by their attack on Malala Yousufzai.

The 15-year-old schoolgirl activist was attacked as she was being driven home in the school bus after taking a mid-year exam. Two of her friends, one of them Zainat, were also injured.

But so far none of the girls have taken notice of the dangers to their safety and the rows of wooden desks in their small village school are still full.

Kainat doing her homework with her father in Pakistan's Swat Valley Credit: ITV News

“When my daughter fell, Pakistan stood up and listened,” Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousufzai, said at a press conference I attended last week.

He has travelled with the rest of the family to the Birmingham hospital where his daughter is recovering from bullet wounds to the head.

He, like others in Pakistan, see this as a potential turning point.

Next week there will be an International Malala Day when attention will be given to all the girls being denied schooling around the world – all 65 million of them.

Malala Yousufzai with her father Ziauddin and her two younger brothers at the The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham Credit: REUTERS/Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham/Handout

Malala’s father is the governor of the school attended by both girls and he is as proud of their education as he is of his own.

As he talked about the terrible ordeal the girls were going through, he quoted Shakespeare on understanding one's enemies - proof that amongst many other things, education helps us deal with and make sense of even the most terrible events.