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Malala Spends 20th Birthday on Girl Power Trip Fighting for Education in Iraq

Iraq is the latest stop on Malala's Girl Power Trip, spending the day in an internally displaced person camp for Mosul evacuees.

Malala Yousafzai visits children who are back in school after living in ISIS-controlled Mosul.

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai spent her 20th birthday in a refugee camp outside Mosul, Iraq, in support of her Girl Power Trip on Tuesday.

Malala celebrated the big day by meeting with young refugees who had fled their homes in ISIS captured Mosul. She then took some of the refugee children to a local amusement park to celebrate her birthday.

“Today I met young women from Mosul with incredible courage and determination,” Malala said to a group of them. “I hope you will stay strong, go back to school as soon as you can and have hope that your future can be better than the dark days behind you.” 

Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund

Yousafzai visits an Iraqi camp for displaced Mosul residents.

Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund

In Erbil, Yousafzai visited an amusement park and rode the swings with children displaced by ISIS conflict.

Yousafzai is currently traveling through refugee camps, which are plentiful in Iraq due to the long battle against ISIS. Approximately 3.6 million people are currently displaced in the country — half are children and many of them aren’t in school. 

During her tour of Iraq, she is meeting Iraqi, Kurdish, Yazidi, Christian and Syrian teenage girls, all impacted by terrorism or war.

Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund

Yousafzai and her new friends ride a carousel.

Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund

Yousafzai enjoys some cotton candy with displaced children while celebrating her 20th birthday.

Says Yousafzai, “For me, the most important thing is talking to other people, learning from them and speaking out for what you believe in.”

Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund

Yousafzai rides a ferris wheel with new friends she met on her trip.

“Education is so important not only for your future, but for your community's future,” Yousafzai told a group of children. “I pray that you will be able to return home to Mosul and use your education to help rebuild your city.”

Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund

Yousafzai rides the bumper cars with displaced children.

Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund

Yousafzai, originally from Pakistan, lives in Britain and spends much of her time speaking on behalf of refugee children. The education activist rose to prominence after she was shot in the head on her school bus in 2012 by a Taliban gunmen

She has since used the notoriety of the event to speak about the need for childhood education — particularly in the Middle East. Her efforts led to her becoming the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in history. 

Malin Fezehai / Malala Fund