For the first 12 years of his life, Craig Kielburger was just like any other child, growing up with his family in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada and oblivious to the realities of the world around him. Until one day, he picked up the newspaper in search of the comics and stumbled across an article that would change his life, and in the process, the lives of thousands of children around the world. Empowered and enraged by the contents of that article about the murder of Iqbal Masih, a young Pakistani boy battling against child labor, Craig began to formulate an idea for a children's activist group and thus the seed for his organization Free the Children was planted. A number of his classmates joined him on his endeavor and the group began doing research, raising awareness about child labor and raising money, in an effort to promote education in order to circumvent exploitation. Today, Free the Children has evolved into a worldwide organization working with over 1 million of the world's youth to improve the plight of other children worldwide. It has built over 500 schools in countries around the world, educating over 50,000 students a day, created hundreds of women's co-ops and brought clean water to rural areas in all parts of the globe. In 2006, Craig's work was recognized internationally when Free the Children won the Nobel World's Children's Prize. In addition to directing Free the Children, Craig is a best-selling author and renowned motivational speaker who continues to advocate for children's rights around the world.
"We so often feel powerless to do anything about the many problems in the world around us. We are so often left to wonder whether one person can possibly make a difference. Mother Teresa said yes we can. Her life was resounding proof that it is possible."
"Child labour is an issue of grave importance. It must become a top priority for all governments of the world. How can the world move into the twenty-first century with children still being exploited for their labour and denied their basic right to an education?"
"It's easier to be ignorant and say I don't know about the problem. But once you know, once you've seen it in their eyes, then you have a responsibility to do something. There is strength in numbers, and if we all work together as a team, we can be unstoppable."
Publications / Speeches:
- Craig Kielburger. Free the Children: A Young Man Fights Against Child Labor and Proves That Children Can Change the World. 1999
- Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger. Take Action: A Guide to Active Citizenship. 2002
- Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger. Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World. 2008