Friday, March 09, 2001


A few years ago, when David was first getting involved with Children's Express, Baslow brought home a book about a young man, named Craig Kielburger, whose life was changed by a newspaper story.

The story was of a Pakistani child, named Iqbal Masih, who was sold into slavery by his family when he was four years old. He spent the next six years shackled to a carpet-weaving loom, tying knots. At the age of ten, with the help of a human rights organization, he escaped his bondage and began school. He soon became an activist, speaking in Pakistan, Europe, and the United States about the horrors of child slavery. At the age of twelve he was murdered, shot with a double-barrelled shotgun.

Craig Kielburger, twelve years old himself at the time, started his own human rights organization, which came to be called "Free the Children". It was composed entirely of children his own age, mostly his friends at first. They prepared leaflets and wrote letters advocating a boycott. They were invited to address a High School class.

In the course of the presentation they were peppered with questions they could not answer: How would families compensate for the lost income if child slavery were abolished? What would happen to the children? Wouldn't a boycott ruin local economies and cause widespread problems in the affected areas?

Craig realized that he didn't have enough information. He needed to bolster his opinions with facts. Soon after he set out on a fact-finding trip through South Asia.

He chronicles that trip in his book, Free the Children.

The Baslow family read the book aloud together, a little at a time, over the course of a few weeks. David and Rulizow were fascinated by the story of such a young person so boldly undertaking to do good. David was especially impressed. The book became a reference point.

When David returned from India Baslow mentioned Craig Kielburger in passing. David said that he'd been thinking about him and about "Free the Children". They took the book off the shelf and leafed through it again. Baslow marvelled at how far David had come since they'd first read the book together.

Judging by the website and the video interview listed below the message of Free the Children has been elaborated:

"Free the Children has two main purposes:

To free children from poverty, exploitation and abuse.
To give children a voice, leadership training, and opportunities to take action on issues which affect them from a local to an international level."

David's work with Children's Express fits right in with those purposes. He is, at the age of thirteen, a more effective actor in the world than his father has ever been.

Iqbal Masih and the Crusaders Against Child Slavery by Susan Kuklin
Free the Children: A Young Man Fights Against Child Labor and Proves that Children Can Change the World by Craig Kielburger with Kevin Major.

Free the Children Website

Free The Children International
What is Free The Children?
Who is Craig Kielburger?


State of the World Forum 2000: Interview with Craig Kielburger

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