Reflection: On seeing opportunities despite hardship – Vee and Malala

I recently watched this interview of Vee Kativuh by Ali Abdaal and wanted to note down some of my thoughts.

Deep Dive with Ali Abdaal

Vee is a girls’ education advocate and she had quite an inspiring story, and perspectives to share about making positive change in the world. Coming to the UK from Zimbabwe where she would have a better chance at getting educated, and then dealing with the struggles that came with being one of the very few minority students at Oxford University, she had a very unique perspective to share.

Vee mentioned that if her mother hadn’t gathered the courage to come to the UK, and had stayed in Zimbabwe, then she would have been one of the girls who would be married away instead of being given a chance to get educated.

I was very surprised to hear that she had to deal with so many difficulties getting into Oxford and while being there, just because of her race. Oxford is known as one of the top educational institutions in the world, so I did not expect that she would have such negative experiences (along with positive ones) with both the institution and some fellow students.

She talked about the barriers some students face just to be able to apply and get an interview at places like Oxford, the immense impostor syndrome that comes with pushing those limits that many other students don’t have to, and then having to act as a spokesperson for the minority group you represent instead of just being able to enjoy your experience as a regular student.

So, I checked out her YouTube channel, and realized that… she’s friends with Malala Yousefzai! In one of the videos she interviewed Malala about her autobiography and they went over Malala’s fight for girls’ education after being denied education herself in Swat Valley, Pakistan, despite the dangers she was facing at the time.

Watching both interviews made me realize a few things.

a) The world is so much bigger than the struggles of one person. It can be easy to fall into the trap of getting and staying inside your own head and feeling helpless and forgetting that external struggles still exist for others. However…

b) You can still help others a little bit even if you’re struggling. At your own pace. In your own capacity. Just because you have your own struggles doesn’t mean that you’ve completely lost your ability to make any positive contribution at all.

A helpful thing to do is to keep in the back of your mind what privileges and opportunities you have access to that other people don’t, and whenever you feel strong enough, whenever you feel like you have the capacity to do so, honour the opportunities you have by trying to avail them. And down the road, when you have the capacity to, consider directly extending your hand to others to lift them up too.

When I was hearing them talk about how some girls don’t even get a chance at education, I suddenly realized that everyone also does not have access to properly working wi-fi. I know that if I didn’t have wi-fi, I would not be writing this blog. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have gained the inspiration that I did from watching others start a website, or figure out how to make and maintain one.

Without these resources, we are so limited that it’s hard to realize how much we take for granted what we have.

In short, watching these interviews forced me to think about how much more work needs to be done to have these resources become accessible to others, as well as taking a look at which resources I do have that others might not, and how I could utilize them better.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s