Wales

The south Wales students who were shot by the Taliban

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Media captionKainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan received scholarships to go to Atlantic College in 2013

When Malala Yousafzai was shot while on her way to school for speaking up about women's education, global outrage ensued.

But little is known about her best friends, now studying in Wales, who were caught in the crossfire.

Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan received scholarships to go to UWC Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan in 2013, but their journey from Pakistan to south Wales was far from easy.

Shazia said: "[In Pakistan] we were not allowed to go outside, we were not allowed to bring our book or wear our uniform to go to school."

Image caption Shazia Ramzan says Malala was unrecognisable after she was shot

They had just finished a chemistry exam when the Taliban boarded their bus in October 2012 and asked: "Who is Malala?"

"All the girls were looking at the man and then he pulled out a gun and he shot Malala in the head," Shazia said.

Kainat cannot remember the moment when shots were fired but will "never forget" looking down and seeing Malala lying on the floor "completely red".

Challenge

"Whenever I see blood I remember my story," she added.

Both girls were hit by Taliban bullets, Shazia in the neck and Kainat in the hand, but their concern was for their friend Malala.

"She was very different, her hair was cut and her face was very big," Shazia said.

Image caption Kainat Riaz saw her friend Malala lying on the floor "completely red"
Image caption The girls had just finished a chemistry exam when the Taliban boarded their bus in October 2012

The girls have high hopes - both want to become doctors and fight for women's rights to education with Malala as their inspiration.

Kainat dreams of becoming a gynaecologist so she can help women in Pakistan who "can't go to a male doctor, they can't show their bodies".

They say the biggest challenge has been speaking English and struggled with the change when they first came to Wales.

'Bullets'

Shazia said: "Everything looked very big; big cars, big buses.

"It's so hard to live without your family, you don't realise the importance of your brother, your mother or your father.

"But education is here and we learn a lot of things beyond the classroom as well."

Image caption The girls hope to take International Baccalaureate exams next year

Both girls are still struggling to understand what happened that day.

"We were hit by bullets, why? Because we were just girls? Why, because we want just an education?" said Shazia.

Their lives may have changed forever, but Kainat and Shazia hope one day to return home.

Kainat told her father before leaving: "Don't worry, one day I will be successful and then I will come back to Pakistan."

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