By Craig Kielburger,
TKN Special Guest Reporter
(This article was originally published on TKN on Mar. 6, 2012.)
One morning when I was 12, I was munching on cereal and flipping through the newspaper in search of the comics.
I couldn’t get past the front-page story. It was about a young boy in Pakistan, a child labourer named Iqbal Masih.
When he was just four years old, Iqbal went to work in a cramped, dusty room for 12 hours a day, six days a week, weaving carpets in a factory.
After 10 years of backbreaking work, scoldings and beatings from factory guards, Iqbal escaped.
But then the unthinkable happened. When Iqbal was 12, he was shot dead while riding his bike. Some people say he was killed by the angry factory owner, but no one ever found out for sure.
Iqbal was 12. I was 12.
I knew I had to do something for him. But what? I hadn’t been looking to make a big difference in the world. I was looking for Calvin and Hobbes! Still, I tore out Iqbal’s story and brought it to school.
I asked my teacher if I could talk to my Grade 7 class. I told them about Iqbal and how much his story inspired me to speak out against child labour.
“I don’t know what, but we have to do something,” I said. “I need your help. Who will join me?”
Eleven hands went up. That’s how Free The Children was born.
Today, kids in Free The Children groups all over the world are raising money to help build schools, and give poor children like Iqbal a chance to escape poverty and child labour—650 schools and school rooms so far, for more than 50,000 students around the world.
I still read the newspaper every day. Because you never know when you’ll find a story that will change your life.
Craig Kielburger co-founded Free The Children in 1995 when he was just 12 years old. Today, he remains a passionate full-time volunteer for the organization, which is now an international charity that empowers youth to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. In 2007, Kielburger was given the country’s highest civilian honour when he was named a Member of the Order of Canada for his activist work on behalf of children’s rights.
This video, from the Me to We website, gives a good idea of the Kielburgers’ journey.
By Jonathan Tilly
Craig Kielburger ends his article by saying that stories in the newspaper can change your life. Have you ever read a news article that changed your life? If so, how?
Reading Prompt: Responding to and Evaluating Texts
One reason why Craig Kielburger’s story is inspiring is because he saw how he could make a difference to the lives of children and did something about it. Why do you think his story is unique (special)? How can you make the world a better place?
Express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).
Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).
Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).
Grammar Feature: Italics
Italics are used to show that one portion of text is different from the rest. Writers often use italics, like bold, to show key words, ideas, or to distinguish between different parts of the text.
Today’s article includes a final paragraph written in italics. Why?