Children say its time for action
can change the world, Craig Kielburger said yesterday at a padare on
childrens rights. After all, he said, Christ worked the miracle
of the loaves and fishes with the help of a child.
"Theres no shortage of plans for overcoming the problems of the worlds
children, but theres a shortage of action," he said. "There are lots of
meetings. They produce statements about childrens rights. There are other meetings
to ratify them. Now its time for action.
"The WCC is one of the most proactive international organisations when it comes to
involving youth. But it still has a long way to go."
Craig said the church is not always good at listening to the voice of children. "Here
at the WCC assembly we have meetings discussing the abuse of children. And here in this
assembly there are children who have lived through that abuse and risen above it. How many
people are hearing their voice?"
Craig said the churches were one of the most powerful groups in the world.
"Governments are losing their power more and more as corporations become more and
more powerful," he said.
"Theres consumerism. The media glamorise sex. Many people equate material goods
"Young people are looking for moral leadership. Where are we going to find it?
Certainly not in our politicians and sports stars. Today, more than ever, the churches
have a crucial role to play."
In some ways, Craig said, the churches had failed children. "The churches should be
challenging children to do more than just go to church and Sunday school," he said.
"Thats important. But then its a question of taking Jesus teaching
and implementing it in our lives. Unfortunately, the church hasnt been too
successful at taking Jesus message and putting it into action.
"Jesus didnt just preach. He also went out to the poor, the sick and the
destitute. He lived with them. He helped in the healing. Thats what weve
Craig, an Anglican, said he had sometimes questioned his faith as he visited children
around the world.
"I see magnificent churches," he said. "Theyre locked at night. Why?
Because they dont want undesirable types, like street children, to sleep in them.
Some churches go to great lengths to keep street children out.
"If Jesus were on earth today he would throw open the doors of those churches, would
welcome the children in and embrace them. He would be finding them places to sleep and
opening food kitchens and health centres.
"Jesus message isnt just to pass on the scriptures to people. Its
to pass on his love."
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World's most dynamic schoolboy?
Craig Kielburger, 15, could well be the worlds most dynamic schoolboy. He lives
with his parents in a comfortable middle-class home in Ontario, Canada. In April, 1995, he
opened a newspaper and read and article that changed his life. It was about a Pakistani
boy of his own age, Iqbal.
When Iqbal was four, his parents sold him into slavery. He was shackled to a carpet loom
12 hours a day, six days a week, and paid six cents a day. Eventually he escaped, helped
form a union and began to spread the word about the horrors of child labour. When he began
to gain international attention he was shot dead near his home near Lahore, Pakistan.
Craig, then aged 12, founded an international organisation, Free the Children, which
fights for childrens rights. His message to children is that their voices can be
heard and their actions can make a difference.
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