Craig Kielburger – 25 Years of Giving and Helping Those in Need
Canadian social entrepreneur and human rights activist Craig Kielburger has made a difference in millions of people’s lives through his charitable organization WE Charity. He also runs WE Day and ME to WE, a unique for-profit social enterprise that is meant to provide valuable funding to WE Charity.
With his brother Marc Kielburger, Craig launched WE Charity in 1995 intending to save children from a despicable life devoted to child labor. Eventually, this became a life mission for Craig Kielburger and for the last 25 years he and his brother have been offering help to those who need it in various parts of the world.
Finding Inspiration to Make Global Change
It was a childhood incident that led Craig Kielburger to dedicate his life to save young children from the social problem of child labor. Back in 1995 when he was only 12 years old, Craig learned about a boy in Pakistan named Iqbal Masih through the Toronto Star newspaper. Iqbal Masih was a former child laborer who then became a child-rights activist, but was murdered for protesting against the carpet-making industry.
As a 4-year old boy, Iqbal Masih was bought by a carpet factory in Pakistan from his parents as a form of collateral for a loan that his parents took to pay for the wedding of their eldest son. For the next six years, the little boy worked for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week by creating the tiny knots that help to create the much coveted and highly expensive Pakistani carpets. The factory owner added fines frequently to the main loan amount any time he made mistakes and the rice bowl that he was provided with every day. This made it difficult for the parents to ever repay the loan. The poor boy lived his days in constant threat where he was often beaten with metal tools and sticks. At the age of 10, Iqbal Masih escaped the torment with the assistance of a human rights organization. The organization later got him enrolled in a school. Iqbal Masih then traveled to numerous countries where he spoke against the problem of child labor. However, in 1995, only at the age of 12, Iqbal was murdered. The mother of the child is convinced of the fact that the owner of the carpet factory had something to do with his killing.
The story of Iqbal Masih was widely circulated in some of the most leading newspapers worldwide, even though the news was often printed on the last pages. Pretty soon the incident was forgotten by mainstream media as well as its readers. However, the incident had a deep impact on the mind of Craig Kielburger and this eventually led him to start a youth-driven movement to eradicate the problem of child labor.
While reading a Toronto newspaper, Craig Kielburger one day came across the new image of Iqbal Masih. As he read his story, the stark difference between the life that he had and the misfortune that Iqbal went through shocked him to the core. Craig later said that he had read about the American Civil War in books but had the notion that slavery was a thing of the past. However, the story of Iqbal made him realize that slavery was still alive but in a different form. Craig did some digging about the prevalence of child labor and later spoke to his friends about this problem. Ultimately, his passion to do something about the child labor issue got him to speak with religious groups, political leaders, community leaders and corporate firms, and a grass-root movement against child labor started from there.
Craig Kielburger and Free The Children
As Craig started Free The Children, his parents, Fred and Theresa Kielburger provided him with great support during the early stages when the organization was headquartered in the Kielburger family home. One of the first things that Free The Children did was sending a petition to have Kailash Satyarthi released from imprisonment. Kailash Satyarthi was a child labor activist in India and the petition was signed by 3000 people which were then sent to the Indian prime minister. This eventually got Kailash Satyarthi released and he eventually went on to become the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
The Kielburger home became global headquarters for FTC or Free the Children, a non-profit organization dedicated to abolishing child labor completely from all parts of the world. The organization currently receives hundreds and thousands of letters every week from numerous children who are looking to get involved. Even though there are some adult volunteers in every office that help with the recruitment, mentoring, and bookkeeping, the majority of the manpower and energy devoted to making Free the Children a success comes from the main members who are all under 18 years of age.
When asked about how Free the Children has been able to make such a huge difference in the lives of people all over the globe and how its young members have played a role in making this venture a success, Craig Kielburger said that every young individual has a passion in their heart that drives them to improve things for children who are suffering from child labor. Most of the children find it difficult to move through their lives since they have been taught to believe that they cannot do anything to change things and that they need to wait and become adults themselves to make lives better for everyone.
Helping to Make the World a Better Place
Craig Kielburger and his team at WE Charity have already made significant efforts to help the problem of child labor, especially from countries like India and Pakistan where such issues affect many communities almost every day. His passion and zeal to save children in all parts of the world have helped them to thrive positively.
Having read through this article on Craig and his many efforts to help those in need, you should now have a much better standing on his personal life, passion and charity efforts. To learn more about how you can take action and start changing the world, one day at a time, be sure to read this article on why philanthropy is still so important.