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Photo: PTI

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban, spoke publicly for the first time today since she was attacked last October, saying in a video statement that she was recovering and thanked everyone for her "second life".  "It does not feel like I had a very big operation," she said in a short video statement, recorded yesterday just after her latest five-hour surgery to reconstruct her skull and restore her hearing at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
 
In another message recorded before her surgery and released today, the 15-year-old said, "Today you can see that I am alive. I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone and...I am getting better day by day. It's just because of the prayers of people."  "Because all people   men, women, children   all of them have prayed for me. And because of these prayers God has given me this new life...and this is a second life. And I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated," she said. Malala, who also spoke in Urdu and Pashto in the video, also announced the creation of the Malala Fund with the help of a US non-governmental organisation.
 
The fund will support the education and empowerment of girls in Pakistan and around the world and will provide grants to civil society organisations and individuals focused on education. It will be advised by a committee comprising of education experts and entrepreneurs, as well as Malala and her family.
 
Her father, Ziaddudin, has already been appointed an education attache to Pakistan's consulate in Birmingham. A statement on the fund's website said, "Before she was attacked, Malala was in the process of setting up an organisation with her friends to get girls into school and out of domestic labour."

 "The first grant of the Malala fund will continue this process and provide a safe space for the girls, resources for a positive learning environment and an incentive programme for families. After a needs assessment and final programme design, the project will be launched and running by spring 2013," the statement further said.
  
The Taliban had said they targeted Malala because she promoted girls' education and "Western thinking". She escaped death by a matter of inches when she was shot on a school bus in north-western Pakistan on October 9, 2012   as the bullet entered just above her left eye and ran along her jaw, grazing past her brain.
  
She was flown to the UK for a series of operations and her doctors have expressed delight at her recovery. They hope that the latest procedures, to put a titanium plate on her damaged skull and to fit a cochlear implant, will be the last surgery she needs. Neurosurgeon Anwen White said that her "brain is healing very well" and she did not expect any long lasting cognitive problems. Malala has since been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by three Norwegian MPs, who praised her "commitment so threatening to extremists that they tried to kill her".

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