H.O.W. - Craig Keilburger- "Me to We"
I first saw Craig Kielburger back about fifteen years ago, on a TV show where he was featured as a young lad with a mission. At the time he would have been in his early teen years and I did not realize that I was watching a "rerun". What I remember though was the pure intensity and fervour of this young lad who was determined to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children of the world.
Free The Children
It started when he was twelve years old and attending school at Bishop Scalabrini School in Thornhill, Ontario. He had been shocked and deeply disturbed by a headline he saw in a Toronto newspaper with regards to child labour, and the story of a twelve year old boy in Pakistan, who had been forced into bonded labour in a carpet factory, eventually being murdered in 1995.
He began researching child labour, eventually taking an article to school for a project where he gathered eleven other students - all twelve years of age like himself. They called their group "Twelve-Twelve-Year-Olds" and this eventually was the birth of "Free The Children", an organization that eventually grew to include 45 other countries.
That same year he traveled with a 25 year old friend to Bangladesh to view the conditions for himself. He put himself into the situation, following along with the child labourers and interviewing some of the adults.
It Takes A Child
While in Asia, he realized Prime Minister Jean Cretien was there also. He tried to arrange a meeting with him but was denied. Undeterred he went on to arrange a press conference where he spoke out saying that the Prime Minister had a moral responsibility to do something about this. He got his meeting eventually and out of that came a meeting between the Prime Minister and the trade delegation. Through this the governments of Canada and Italy were also lobbied to stiffen laws against nationals who sexually exploit children in developing countries, such as Asia.
Free The Children eventually gained huge international attention. Being featured on Oprah, with an appearance by Craig Kielburger himself certainly did not hurt their project, and in fact helped tremendously. Over 650 schools have been built, as well as projects in 45 developing countries with a theme of "children helping children." All of this is done by the young people themselves, bringing awareness for fundraising.
Me to We
"Me to We" is a social enterprise also started by Craig to sell socially conscious products, with profits going to Free the Children. Products include clothing and accessories, motivational books and speakers, as well as camps and trips to Kenya, China, and Equador to name a few.
Today - a continuation
Craig Kielburger named "Member of the Order of Canada" by the Governor General. He has an Executive MBA - and he is an Activist!
Today Craig is 30 yeas old. He is the founder of both "Free The Children", and "Me to We". His brother Marc is Executive Director and together they have also written a book by the same title - "Me to We".
"Me to We" has been recognized with an award by Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year for extraordinary leadership and innovation in an organization addressing social needs.
Facebook - Free The Children