There were two other girls shot along with Malala that day. One of them is trapped at home in Swat, unable to go back to school.
Due to complications, her home recovery lasted several months. To this day, she endures severe nerve pain and still does not have full function of her hand.
“I want go to school even if the Taliban comes for me again. I will never give up,” Kainat said. It was a gentle resolve, the kind of fortitude that cannot be taught, only earned. When I told her I was a doctor, she beamed. “I want to be a doctor too, so I can help people.”
The “I” in the story is Seema Jilani,
a physician who worked extensively on medical evacuation flights for critically ill children. She specializes in pediatrics and has done humanitarian aid work in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt and Bosnia. Reporting for this piece was done during a trip to Pakistan in November 2012.
Kainat is much worse off than Malala.
Since the shooting, neighbors have repeatedly told Kainat to stop going to school. Some have even accused her of inviting the Taliban’s wrath onto the community. When I asked her why she kept the shawl from the shooting, she responded: “It is the only emblem of my life, with the stain of my blood, my struggle.”
Weeks later, I woke to the shrill jingle of my mobile phone. Kainat was scrambling for breath and anxious. There had been an explosion at the house next door to hers. “Maybe it was a natural gas explosion, but maybe it was the Taliban. They blame me. I wake up with nightmares. The neighbors all tell me to leave.” Her voice splintered, “We have no money to escape. I am scared for my life.”
Despite her valiant efforts, Kainat has only been able to attend school twice since last December. All modes of transportation — buses, taxis, and private cars — refuse to drive her to school. She studies from home now. The Pakistani Army has cautioned the family that their safety cannot be guaranteed outside their home, so they remain under house arrest after dark. Kainat has not left her home in over three weeks.
There is no physical therapy available for her wound recovery, nor is there any mental counseling for her PTSD. For this brave 15-year-old girl, there are no visits to friends’ homes, no trips to the market. She cannot even walk outside her home.
Jilani has been trying to get help for Kainat, and getting nowhere.
Shazia Ali has set up an Indiegogo fundraiser for Kainat. It’s at $920, aiming for $5000.
Please spread the word.
Thanks to Avicenna for spreading the word.