(BIRMINGHAM, England) — Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old schoolgirl from Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban in October because she believed girls should have the right to go to school, released her first video statement following the attempt on her life.
Doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, say Yousafzai is doing well after two major surgeries this weekend. During the operations, surgeons covered part of her shattered skull with a titanium plate and implanted a hearing device for her damaged inner ear.
“Today you can see that I’m alive,” Malala said in a statement, which was taped days before her surgeries. “I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone and today I can speak and I’m getting better day by day. It’s just because of the prayers of people, and because of these prayers, God has given me this new life, and this is a second life. This is the new life and I want to serve the people.”
Yousafzai was critically injured last October in Pakistan when a gunman shot her in the head. She was transported to Queen Elizabeth Hospital shortly after she was shot. Against all odds, she began to talk, read and walk, with no signs of major brain damage.
The five-hour surgeries this weekend were her final major medical procedures. The hospital says she is stable and that her medical team is “very pleased” with her progress.
Yousafzai is awake and talking to staff and members of her family, according to the hospital. She will remain there for the next three to five days. Doctors expect that she will need anywhere from nine to 18 months to fully recover.
As Yousafzai gains strength, so too does her cause.
“I think Malala is an inspiration for children all over the world,” Yousafzai’s father, Ziauddin, told ABC News’ Bob Woodruff during an exclusive interview in London. “When she fell, Pakistan stood and the whole world stood and the world supported her.”
Even before the assassination attempt, Yousafzai was known as an impassioned advocate for education, despite reported death threats. She was just 12 when the Taliban shut down her school.
In her statement released on Monday, Yousafzai announced the creation of a new charitable fund to support the cause she has championed.
“I want every girl, every child to be educated,” she said in her video statement. “And for that reason, we have organized the Malala Fund.”
Vital Voices — a global non-governmental organization advancing girls’ and women’s leadership through training and mentoring — established the fund on behalf of Yousafzai and her family. The group worked together with supporters of the cause, including The United Nations Foundation, Girl Up and several other organizations and individuals, and the fund is intended to provide grants to organizations and individuals focused on education.
Yousafzai and her father are on the board of the Malala Fund and she will help guide and direct projects the fund supports.
“We stand with Malala and girls around the globe who are boldly speaking out as advocates for education and equality,” said Alyse Nelson, Vital Voices President and CEO. “When girls move forward, they take their communities forward too.”
“Our objective, our aim, and our dream is to educate children,” Ziauddin said of the new effort. “And especially girls, because when you educate a girl, you educate the whole family. You educate a generation. You educate all other coming children.”
“It is not a privilege that we are educating them. It is their basic right,” he added.
Some militant clerics in Pakistan have reportedly issued a fatwa against Yousafzai, saying they would kill her if she recovers from her injuries. Despite this, her story has garnered international support, and just last week, Yousafzai was officially nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN
Ray Sanchez, Zayn Nabbi, Euan McKirdy and Angela Dewan, CNN
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN
Samantha Beech, CNN