Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lecture: Craig Kielburger

Just saw Craig Kielburger do a talk. Certainly an inspirational speaker. Clearly he can communicate. To see someone his age be so good at what they do - it's so great.

Craig Kielburger Inspires People to see the Humanity

Sherbrooke Record - Feb-08/2010 Article:

April 1995 a 12 year old boy in Toronto catches the headline, ‘Battled Child Labour, Boy, 12, Murdered’ and suddenly his life is forever changed. Craig Kielburger was reading the paper one morning when he came across the story of a boy his age named Iqbal. Iqbal Masih was born in South Asia and sold into slavery at the age of four. In his short life, he had spent six years chained to a carpet-weaving loom. Iqbal captured the world's attention by speaking out for children's rights. Eventually Iqbal's wide media coverage caught the attention of those who wished to silence him. Iqbal lost his life defending the rights of children. What Craig learned from Iqbal's story was that the bravest voice can live in the smallest body. He also knew he had to help. What followed was a lifelong pursuit of helping free children around the world from exploitation.

At the time Craig was only in grade 7 when he organized his class to continue the fight that Iqbal had brought to his attention. Ever since then through his organization, ‘Free the Children’ Craig has travelled the world helping those in need. Now at the age of 27 Craig is still going strong. uBishop’s as part of its Donald Lecture Series had the privilege of having Craig speak on Jan 26 at the Centennial Theatre. Craig delivered a lecture about the current situation in Haiti. Haiti has seen one of the worst earthquakes in history. With estimates anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 people feared dead and millions displaced. Craig showed photos of the devastated country. Schools completely destroyed, buildings demolished, people lined up for food. It is chaos.

In typical Craig fashion he talked with such passion and inspiration about the current Haiti situation and gave the audience a brief history of how he begun to get involved. Free the Children has been in Haiti for over 10 years now and the work continues. Craig expressed concern over the temporary media attention that these sorts of events get but will soon dry up. The, ‘media camp’ is strong now but with the emanate Vancouver Winter Olympics around the corner the media attention Craig fears will change. “We have approximately two weeks before things change”. He gave examples before when the media would setup shop only to disappear after two or three months. “We need people for long term development”, said Craig.

After speaking for about 90 minutes Craig headed towards the lobby where his book, “Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World” and others were being sold. Since Free the Child acts as a charity there are certain limitations as to what they can do in other countries. “Me to We” is, “a new kind of social enterprise for people who want to help change the world with their daily choices.” Through this other organization they are able to do much more. Craig stayed to meet many of the hundreds of people who came to the event. People praised his inspiring speech and his way of life and constantly asked how to get involved. “There is no age limit for those who want to be involved. We have people as young as five years old”. Craig encourages parents to get their kids involved. Even it is just means collecting pennies or understanding what they can about world events. “See the humanity”, Craig was told as a child from his mother. When you see someone on the street ask them their name, spend some time with them. Help in any way you can.

The event was by all means a success. Craig inspired and motivated hundreds of people to take action. Michael Goldbloom, Bishop’s University Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “It is proof positive that each of us is capable of effecting social change through our actions, whether large or small.” uBishop’s Leadership series accomplished what it set out to do - showing us that each of us is capable of change. Get involved.