Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Carol Zimmermann

1/25/2007 (8 years ago)

Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)

WASHINGTON (CNS) - Craig Kielburger, the longtime youth activist who has worked to improve conditions for young people around the world, is now taking his message to a broader audience: adults.

ACTIVIST PICTURED WITH KENYAN BOY - Craig Kielburger, the longtime youth activist who has worked to improve conditions for young people around the world, poses with a Kenyan boy in 2006. (CNS Photo)

ACTIVIST PICTURED WITH KENYAN BOY - Craig Kielburger, the longtime youth activist who has worked to improve conditions for young people around the world, poses with a Kenyan boy in 2006. (CNS Photo)

Highlights

By Carol Zimmermann

Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)

1/25/2007 (8 years ago)

Published in Living Faith


Maybe that's because Kielburger, who started the group Free the Children, an international organization to fight child labor, when he was just 12, has run into adulthood himself at age 24. But as he puts it, it has more to do with the fact that young people have a lot of ideas, but "they don't live in isolation." He is convinced that to tackle the overwhelming problem of world poverty young people need support, cooperation and also a fair amount of inspiration from their parents, youth leaders and educators. They also need to do simple things on an everyday basis to make tangible changes around them. That's the message behind the new book written by Craig and his brother, Marc, "Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World," published in 2006 by Simon & Schuster. The book includes plenty of anecdotes, including some from famous people such as Oprah Winfrey and retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa about what it means to make a difference in someone's life. It also is loaded with suggestions on everyday actions that can make a difference for a neighbor or a stranger on the street and ultimately change the attitudes of those doing the good deeds. The Catholic brothers, who have led Free the Children for 12 years, primarily through the support of youth volunteers and their donations, have seen their initial vision of wanting to improve child labor conditions mushroom into huge undertakings: building more than 450 schools all over the world and providing health care clinics and services in remote areas of Africa, China, Latin America and Sri Lanka. The organization has set up alternative income projects for those in poverty, sponsored entire villages, and provided systems for clean water and sanitation. The group also runs a youth leadership training program. The brothers, who frequently speak at youth conferences and gatherings, have long relied on young people to help them with their work and have succeeded despite a perception that today's young people are not concerned with the global issues of poverty and social justice. "There are a lot of factors why young people care," Kielburger told Catholic News Service in a Jan. 12 phone interview from his home in Toronto just days after returning from the site of a future water project in Kenya. He said his own generation came of age when 24-hour news and the Internet were part of everyday life. "We are truly a global generation," he said, noting that many young people see what's wrong in the world and want to act. Over the years, young people continue to be the main force behind Free the Children, but at the same time, the group also gets plenty of calls from educators and youth leaders wondering how to inspire youths. To get to youths who do not realize they can make a difference and should, Kielburger calls on the grown-ups. He realizes adults can be overwhelmed by all the problems in the world and might want to protect and shelter their children from violence and hardships, but he also sees danger in that. "Young people see the problems anyway and if they close their eyes to them, they might close their hearts too," he warned. He advises adults to help young people acknowledge the troubles that exist and then give them simple ways to help, including writing letters to soldiers far from home or collecting food and volunteering at shelters. "Yes, we live in a world with poverty, violence and fighting," he said, but in that environment parents cannot afford to raise "passive bystanders." As an example, he points to his own mom, a teacher. He said she was always teaching, not just in the classroom. He remembers that when he was little she would always stop and talk with homeless people who would ask for money. Kielburger, who at the time wanted to move on, said he always thought she was doing this for the homeless; he realized later that she also was doing this for her sons, to show them how to treat others. Kielburger also thinks church youth leaders have a key role in shaping youths who want to make changes because they can directly tie in their work with the church's call to social justice. He said his own faith influenced his work in "unexpected ways" because he did not initially go out to help others based on his faith, but instead came to a deeper understanding of his faith from that experience. When he visited the poor in other countries, he said, the Gospel stories he had grown up hearing about feeding the poor made more sense to him. "For the first time, I saw what faith meant, that it's more than going through the motions," he said. He also has seen a lot of faith-filled people who look at problems in the world and wonder why God does not directly intervene and change things. Kielburger said there is divine intervention. "God works through us," he said.

---

Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops



Comments


More Living Faith

Group of Christians spontaneously perform outside movie theater to inspire 'War Room' viewers Watch

Image of A group gathers to join in the worship at North Carolina's Concord Mills movie theater.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

One Christian leader group was so inspired by the release of the movie War Room that they decided to flood the atrium of a local mall in Charlotte, North Carolina with Christian music and a lively performance. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - War Room, ... continue reading


Pilgrimage with Pope Francis - FOURTH STATION - St. Anne, patron of grandparents and single women

Image of Saint Anne, pray for us!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Welcome to the fourth station on our virtual pilgrimage to Philadelphia with Pope Francis ahead of the World Meeting of Families. Let us pray! About St. AnneSaint Anne is the grandmother of Jesus Christ and mother to the Virgin Mary. Very little is known about her, but ... continue reading


'I hope the Pope can sing along!' Washington D.C. choir looks forward to Pope's U.S. visit Watch

Image of

By Adelaide Mena, CNA/EWTN News

Choir members from around the Washington, D.C. archdiocese chosen to sing for Pope Francis during his visit later this month hope to stir the soul of the pontiff - and maybe even inspire him to sing along. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - "Our purpose is to ... continue reading


Pope Francis beseeches world to give thanks and protect all life on Day of Creation Watch

Image of Pope Francis had announced last month that the Catholic Church would join the Orthodox Church in marking the prayer day September 1 each year.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During an evening celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis prayed that God would "enlighten the lords of power and money so they would not fall into indifference, but would love the common good, encourage the weak and care ... continue reading


SSPX confessions valid during Jubilee, Pope Francis declares - many pray schism will end Watch

Image of Pope Francis has extended an olive branch to the SSPX. Will our brothers and sisters accept it, or will they perceive it as a slight?

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Absolutions granted by priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X (SSPX) will have the full support of the Pope Francis and the Church during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. The notice was given by Pope Francis in a special letter in which he announced the ... continue reading


POPE FRANCIS ISSUES EXTRAORDINARY INDULGENCE - Here's how you and others can obtain it Watch

Image of Pope Francis has issued an extraordinary indulgence for all who seek to reconcile with God.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is issuing a Jubilee Indulgence that he hopes will allow people to experience God's mercy and grace. In preparation for the coming Jubilee, Pope Francis has published a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who heads his council for the promotion of the ... continue reading


Priest asks, what would St. Francis of Assisi do if he were alive today? Watch

Image of Although Pope Francis presided over the celebration, Fr. Cantalamessa (who has been preacher to the Papal Household since St. John Paul II appointed him in 1980) gave the homily.

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

On the first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the preacher to the papal household said that St. Francis of Assisi is a key model in showing the link between faith in God and care for our common home. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Saint Francis "is ... continue reading


No school days for working children

Image of

By Tony Magliano

It's that time again when adults take off to celebrate Labor Day, and kids head back to the adventures a new school year. But for millions of children worldwide the adventures of a new school year remain but a dream. Sadly, these children will never learn to read or ... continue reading


Catholic lawmakers asked by Pope to rally for pro-life, immigrants and persecuted Christians Watch

Image of The Holy Father was presented with a document by lawmakers outlining their commitment to promoting life in their respective nations, especially in areas of abortion, Christian persecution, and migration.

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

On Sunday, Pope Francis urged Catholic legislators to be protectors of human life, calling them to "be strong" against a throwaway culture marked by Christian persecution, and the rejection of the unborn and migrants. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The pontiff ... continue reading


Will Pope Francis' visit end in disaster? Residents say organizers don't have their act together Watch

Image of Mayor Nutter unveils the 'I'll Be There' campaign to encourage shop owners to stay open during the papal visit.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Philadelphia residents are stressing over the upcoming Papal visit, and for good reason. Preparations for the visit appear ad hoc and are being poorly communicated to the community, according to locals. LOA ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Will Pope Francis' visit to ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Colossians 1:9-14
9 That is why, ever since the day he told us, we have ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:2-3, 3-4, 5-6
2 Yahweh has made known his saving power, revealed ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:1-11
1 Now it happened that he was standing one day by the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 3rd, 2015 Image

Pope Saint Gregory the Great
September 3: St. Gregory, born at Rome about the year 540, was the son of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter