Free the ChildrenBook - 1998
In a Toronto suburb in April 1995, twelve-year-old Craig Kielburger opened the daily paper as usual and began to search for the comics page. But his morning ritual was interrupted when an article about a boy his own age caught his eye. It was the story of Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani boy who, at the age of four, was sold into slavery by his parents. For the next six years, the article read, Iqbal was shackled to a carpet loom, tying thousands upon thousands of tiny knots, twelve hours a day, six days a week. For this he was paid three cents a day. Amazingly, Iqbal's will was never broken: he escaped and began efforts to reveal the horror of child labour. But when Iqbal began to gain international attention, and Pakistani carpet manufacturers began to lose orders, he was shot dead. Craig's life was changed forever that morning. To find out more about child labour he contacted human-rights organizations around the world, and with a small band of his friends from school he formed his own human-rights organization called Free the Children. In the weeks that followed, Free the Children took off, fuelled entirely by the efforts and enthusiasm of children Craig's own age. Soon Craig decided that he had to see first-hand the working conditions of South Asian children. At the time he was not allowed to take the subway alone to downtown Toronto, but he convinced his reluctant parents to let him fly halfway around the world. For seven weeks, in the company of a young Canadian human-rights worker named Alam Rahman, Craig journeyed through the world of slums, sweatshops, and back alleys where so many of the children of South Asia live in servitude, often performing the most menial and dangerous of jobs. In his travels in Bangladesh, Thailand, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, Craig witnessed the shocking variety and extent of child labour, and was transformed from a typical, middle-class kid into a revolutionary. In New Delhi and Islamabad he created a sensation -- and learned something of the power of the media -- when he famously crossed paths with Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who was touring Asia with the 'Team Canada' trade mission. By the time he returned to Canada, Craig and the young people of Free the Children had gained an international profile. On his extraordinary journey Craig lost his faith in the ability of adults to uphold the rights of children, but his conviction that children themselves have the power to fight for their rights and those of their peers was stronger than ever.
Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : McClelland & Stewart, c1998.
Characteristics: xii, 318 pages :,illustrations, maps ;,24 cm.