While I do not watch many TV shows, the two I try to catch on a regular basis are “Sunday Morning” and “60 Minutes.” Sometimes, they can be boring and mundane. But at times, they will pull out a gem by profiling an extraordinary individual who inspires you beyond words. I am often cast as an “Inspirational Speaker” when I travel the country to address organizations, so I am ALWAYS looking for inspirational nuggets myself…to re-charge and gain fresh ideas.
This past Sunday’s “60 Minutes” show did that for me.
His name is Craig Kielburger. He was in 7th grade when the death of a boy changed his life. He read about a boy his age, Iqbal Masih, who was sold into slavery by his parents for less than $16. For the next six years, he was forced to make carpets for 12 hours a day. Masih escaped to lead a crusade against such atrocities. Then, Masih was silenced. He was shot to death while he and his two friends were riding their bikes.
The story struck a deep chord in Craig, then 12, and he vowed to continue the fight that Masih had started. He met with a group of his friends and together they started a charity called Free the Children. The goal of the charity was to share with the world the horrors of child slavery, and more importantly, help to eradicate this disgusting problem..
According to Craig, now 29, Free the Children had some initial successes. But what Craig discovered was that many of the children whom the group saved from slavery had sadly returned to that same atrocity due to their terrible economic condition and high rate of illiteracy. There was nowhere to go except back into slavery.
To resolve this dire problem, Free the Children focused on key initiatives such as building new schools in impoverished areas and providing economic opportunities by connecting local craftspeople to world markets.
Over the years, Free the Children (freethechildren.com) has grown to a $35 million charity with nearly 2 million people involved. Nearly all of those people are under voting age. Anchor Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” said Free the Children is the world’s largest network of children helping children.
The vision of Free the Children is to create an inspirational ripple effect. This charity gives children the essential tools to help them blossom into people who will make a world of a difference. Children are put on speaking tours, sent to summer leadership camp and provided with an enriched curriculum that expands their minds.
According to Craig Kielburger, a penny is analogous to a kid. People walk past them and, many times, ignore them, thinking they are insignificant. But when you bring enough young people together, then suddenly, all those kids have an amazing impact on the world.
Craig Kielburger has empowered children to make a difference. The world needs more extraordinary people just like Craig.