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World

June 14, 2018

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Shot, left for dead by Taliban, ‘Afghan Malala’ graduates with honors

KABUL: Breshna Musazai leaned on her brother as she climbed out of her wheelchair and up the stairs of the graduation stage at the American University of Afghanistan. With polio in one leg and injuries from a Taliban attack in the other, the climb was difficult. She heard cheers from behind her.

When she took her diploma and turned to look at the audience, she was shocked to see the crowd standing for her as she crossed the stage.“It was a very proud moment for me,” Musazai told CNN.

Musazai’s graduation from college last month — she earned a bachelor’s degree in law — was a life dream for her family. But two years earlier, Musazai wasn’t sure she’d even live to see the next morning.

Because of this Musazai has been compared to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who survived being shot by the Taliban at age 15 and went on to receive the Nobel peace prize and become a feminist symbol for young women.

Musazai lived as a refugee in Pakistan before moving to Afghanistan in 2011. In 2012, she enrolled in college. While inside her campus mosque in 2016, Taliban assailants attacked. With her disability, Musazai couldn’t run. She stayed inside the mosque, terrified, until the firing stopped. When she thought it was safe, she moved to another building. An assailant shot her in the leg, breaking her bone. She fell to the ground. A second bullet hit her foot.

She lay there for six hours, pretending to be dead. After a few hours, another bullet hit her foot. When police finally rescued her, she couldn’t walk. This nearly broke her.She couldn’t go to school for nearly a year afterward because she needed to recover.

Musazai says it’s important to always be hopeful, and to believe that whatever bad thing is happening will end and something good will emerge. And her diploma is only the beginning. She hopes to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree abroad, and to keep encouraging others with her example.

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