Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Carol Zimmermann

1/25/2007 (9 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 (9 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

MAKE YOURSELF COUNT! Complete this quick Ash Wednesday survey

Image of Take the Ash Wednesday survey so we can better serve your needs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online is conducting a global survey on Ash Wednesday practices. Each reader is asked to participate once. The survey will take less than a minute to complete. The results of the survey will help Catholic Online determine how best to serve your needs in the ... continue reading


Santa Muerte gains popularity throughout Mexico - Will Pope Francis react during his visit? Watch

Image of Santa Muerte's popularity has spread throughout South America (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Despite the Catholic Church openly saying Santa Muerte is not recognized as a saint, the death saint continues to spread in popularity among Mexican citizens. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Santa Muerte is an absurdity," Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Mexico's ... continue reading


Bible-themed luxury resort to be built in San Diego? Watch

Image of Televangelist seeks to build Bible-themed resort (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Televangelist Morris Cerullo has been attempting to build a Bible-themed luxury resort for the past few years - and now there is only one more hurdle to jump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After purchasing a foreclosed Mission Valley hotel, Cerullo's plans for ... continue reading


What the Catholic Church should do about this new serious problem among the young Watch

Image of Deacon Flanigan confirmed that the recent surge in overdoses among young whites have been linked to controversial medical guidelines that called for a more aggressive approach to treating both acute and chronic pain.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register

When recent headlines marked a spike in drug overdoses for white, middle-class Americans, the news saddened but did not surprise Deacon Timothy Flanigan, an HIV specialist at Brown University medical school in Providence, R.I. Providence, R.I. (National ... continue reading


Pope Francis gives priests advice on being good confessors Watch

Image of

By CNA/EWTN News

Priests who are good confessors must recognize their own sins in order to forgive and comfort penitents, Pope Francis said one day before the start of the Lenten season. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - "I speak to you as a brother, and through you I would like to ... continue reading


POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE: Ash Wednesday (FULL TEXT: English) Watch

Image of

By Pope Francis, Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and good path of Lent!It is beautiful and also significant to have this hearing at this Ash Wednesday. We begin the journey of Lent, and we are reflecting today on the ancient institution of the "jubilee"; It is an ancient thing, ... continue reading


Pope Francis' message for Lent (FULL TEXT: ENGLISH) Watch

Image of

By Pope Franics, Vatican Radio

"I desire mercy, and not sacrifice" (Mt 9:13).The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee 1. Mary, the image of a Church which evangelizes because she is evangelizedIn the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I asked that "the season of Lent in ... continue reading


'There is nowhere else for us to go': Nuns who feed homeless face eviction after rent nearly doubles Watch

Image of Nuns who feed homeless were told to pay or leave (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The cost of living in San Francisco has skyrocketed to the point that and new reports indicate Bay Area housing has reached such heights that the area's average income can no longer support it. Unfortunately, this means everyone is downsizing or moving - including ... continue reading


The 'Martyred Country': Pope Francis' powerful words on Syria Watch

Image of Pope Francis led the crowds in praying the Hail Mary

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

The plight of Syrian civilians involved in the nation's ongoing conflict was at the heart of Pope Francis' appeal to the international community on Sunday, in an address where he also called for a renewed commitment to the protection of life at all stages. ... continue reading


POPE FRANCIS ANGELUS: February 7, 2016 (FULL TEXT: ENGLISH) Watch

Image of

By Pope Francis

Dear brothers and sisters, Goodmorning!The Gospel of this Sunday says - in the drafting of St. Luke - the call of the first disciples of Jesus ( Lk 5,1-11). The fact takes place in a context of everyday life: there are some fishermen on the shore of Lake Galilee, who, ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Deuteronomy 30:15-20
15 'Look, today I am offering you life and prosperity, death and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked and does not ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:22-25
22 He said, 'The Son of man is destined to suffer grievously, to be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 11th, 2016 Image

St. Paschal
February 11: Paschal was the son of Bonosus, a Roman. He ... Read More