Malala Yousafzai’s Birthday: Pakistani Advocate & Nobel Peace Prize Winner Opens Refugee School To Commemorate 18th Birthday

Malala Yousafzai’s birthday was marked by the Pakistani advocate and Nobel Peace prize winner opening a school for Syrian refugees.

The New York Daily News reports that Malala Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday on Sunday, and commemorated it by opening the refugee school for children refugees in Lebanon.

Reuters, via NBC News, reports that Malala became a name for defiance after she was shot on a school bus in Pakistan for being an advocate for girls’ rights to earn an education. Since then, she has become the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace prize, earning it in 2014. Now, she has opened a school of her own to help those girls who otherwise would not receive the education they deserve.

“I decided to be in Lebanon because I believe that the voices of the Syrian refugees need to be heard and they have been ignored for so long,” Malala explained, noting that of the four million refugees created by the Syrian war, 1.2 million have settled in Lebanon.

The school was opened in Bekaa Valley, close to the Syrian border, and was paid for by Malala’s non-profit organization, The Malala Fund. The school can hold up to 200 girls between the ages of 14 to 18.

“Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets,” Malala said in a speech on Sunday, July 12.

The Lebanese officials recently announced that they were not able to take in any more refugees. This obviously upset Malala, who described it as “inhuman and… shameful.” Currently, there are over 500,000 Syrian school-age children in Lebanon, and of that 500,000, only one-fifth are receiving a formal education.

“They are amazing, I don’t think they need any message, I don’t think they need any other advice because they know that education is very important for them,” she said when asked if she had any advice to give the girls.

Through the Lebanese Education Ministry, the girl’s attending Malala’s school will have the opportunity to earn earn baccalaureate and vocational skills. The Lebanese Education Ministry is currently running a campaign, urging and encouraging the world to invest $39 million in education.

“Our voices will continue to get louder and louder until we see politicians and our governments invest in the education of their youth rather than military and war,” she said.

[Photo by Nigel Waldron / Getty Images]