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Monday, May 27, 2024

Changing the World

Shiza Shahid grew up in Pakistan with Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. In 2012, when Yousafzai was just 15, she was shot by the Taliban on her way to school.

During this time, Shahid was studying at Stanford University in Stanford, California, and came to Yousafzai’s Birmingham, England, hospital bedside to act as a buffer between her and the onslaught of media attention the incident had attracted.

Now, Shahid is the global ambassador of the Malala Fund, investing in women leaders around the world to enable their success.

“As a founder, I hope to see the organization have major impact in supporting girls’ education globally,” says Shahid.

She will share her story and more on the Malala Fund at Uncharted International’s Stories of Resilience 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Victory Theatre, 600 Main St.

“(Shahid) is listed under Time Magazine’s 30 Under 30 World Changers, Forbes Top 30 Under 30 list, and she has spoken on ‘Ted Talks.’ So, for us to be able to bring her to Evansville is just incredible,” says Betsy Hopkins, Uncharted International’s director of marketing.

Shahid will talk about her experiences with Yousafzai, growing up in Pakistan, the challenges she faced in her education, and how she and Yousafzai began to connect on this global platform to raise awareness for education for girls.

“I hope to inspire people to know that no matter who they are, no matter what obstacles they face, they can change their own lives and create a major impact in the world,” says Shahid. “I want people to see their struggles as an opportunity to be stronger and more fearless, and to not accept defeat.”

Uncharted International is a nonprofit based in Evansville that operates 11 orphanages in Myanmar. In its 20 years working in Myanmar and five years as a nonprofit, Uncharted International has focused on caring for the homeless, fighting human trafficking, leadership development, remedial education for orphans as well as preparation for employment.

They have taken more than 800 people in the Evansville area with them to the countries they serve.

Shahid and Uncharted International both work to provide young girls with education opportunities.

“One of the areas we work in is Afghanistan, and education for girls there is very difficult,” says Hopkins. “A lot of children go on the streets and beg to make money, so we have a program where we approach the mother and say, ‘We’re going to give you a sewing machine and you can create items for sale if you’ll allow your children to come to our school.’”

That program has been very successful, says Hopkins.

She hopes Shahid’s speech, along with the rest of the Stories of Resilience, will help Uncharted International continue educating Evansville on some of the work organizations like themselves and the Malala Fund are doing and why this work is necessary.

“It has been a true pleasure to interact with such a mission-driven organization,” says Shahid.

For more information on Stories of Resilience, visit unchartedinternational.org/resilience.

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