Last month Tracy featured “We Day” which prompted me to have a closer look at co-founder, Craig Kielburger. I had remembered seeing him on the news when he was just a kid of 12 and then later seeing him on Oprah as well.
I was proud to discover he was a fellow Canadian and really impressed by all that he and his brother and friends accomplished at such a young age. Very inspiring!
I wanted to know how it all began for him and then to share his story because I feel this young man should be known to all…especially Canadians.
Here is what I discovered and learned about Craig Kielburger.
In 1995, when he was 12 years old, Craig saw a headline in the Toronto Star that read “Battled child labour, boy, 12, murdered.” The accompanying story was about a young Pakistani boy named Iqbal Masih who was forced into bonded labour in a carpet factory at the age of four, became an international figurehead for the fight against child labor by 12 years of age, and was brutally murdered in 1995 at the age of 12.
Angered by the article, Kielburger began researching child labour. He took the article to school, gathered friends his same age and together founded a group called the “Twelve-Twelve-Year-Olds,”. This group would evolve into “Free The Children”, an international organization that has 45 countries participating in helping the world become a better place. In December 1995, Kielburger travelled to Asia with Alam Rahman, a 25-year-old family friend from Bangladesh, to see the conditions for himself.
He and a group of others also successfully lobbied the Canadian and Italian governments to stiffen laws against their nationals who sexually exploit children in developing countries like those in Asia.
Free The Children began to receive international attention. The organization has built over 500 schools and implemented projects in 45 developing countries. On average, 73 percent of the organization’s annual funding comes from funds raised by young people. Awesome!
Here is the young Craig Kielburger at work:
And here is a more recent video of Craig Kielburger taken in 2009, still hard at work.
Thank you for all you do Craig! And for inspiring so many of us, young and old.