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Video of Malala Yousafzai shyly smiling as she finally leaves the hospital

Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who in early October was shot in the head by Taliban militants in retribution for her efforts promoting girls' education, has been discharged from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. The discharge is a hard-earned victory for Malala, whose three-month journey to recovery has been a difficult one.

She will stay with her parents and two brothers in Birmingham, where they are living temporarily as she recovers. Her medical ordeal is not over: Her doctors say she will undergo another round of surgery next month to rebuild her skull. Militants in Pakistan say they will target her again.

The video above, released by the hospital without sound, shows a nurse walking Malala out of the hospital after her months-long stay there. The video -- her wave, her shy smile -- is a reminder of the youthful courage that has made this 15-year-old such a symbol of girls' rights in Pakistan.

Still, even this piece of good news is a reminder of how serious her injuries could still be. The AP report on her discharge included this line about doctors' assessments of her brain's ability to recover:

Experts have been optimistic that Malala, who was airlifted from Pakistan in October to receive specialized medical care, has a good chance of recovery because the brains of teenagers are still growing and can better adapt to trauma.

The Post's Richard Leiby recently visited Malala's school in the Swat Valley, where he found it gripped by fear:

MINGORA, Pakistan — Under a portrait of Sir Isaac Newton, the ninth-grade girls clasped their chemistry texts, smoothed their white head scarves and movingly voiced support for the cause of their classmate, Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by the Taliban last week because she advocated a girl’s right to attend school.

“In our hearts is the thirst for education,” one 14-year-old told reporters brought to her classroom by the Pakistani military’s public relations wing Monday. “We want to show the world that we are not worried.”

It was a brave but ultimately false front. “We are worried for our lives,” the same girl confided later out of earshot of the army minder. She pleaded that her name and photograph not be used because she feared retribution by the Taliban.



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Max Fisher · January 3, 2013

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