From the Publisher
In April 1995, twelve-year-old Craig Keilburger opened the daily paper and began to search for the comics page, as usual. But that day, his morning ritual was interrupted when an article about a boy his own age caught his eye.
It was the story of a Pakistani child who, at the age of four, was sold into slavery by his parents. For the next six years, he 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, his will was never broken; he escaped and began efforts to reveal the horrors of child labor. But when this courageous twelve-year-old began to gain international attention, and Pakistani carpet manufacturers began to lose orders, he was shot and killed.
That morning, Craig's life was changed forever. To find out more about child labor, he contacted human rights organizations around the world, and with a small band of his friends from school he formed Free the Children -- his own human rights organization. In the weeks that followed, Free the Children took off, fueled entirely by the efforts and enthusiasm of children Craig's own age.
Soon Craig decided that he had to see firsthand the working conditions of South Asian children. At the time he was not even allowed to take the subway alone, but he convinced his reluctant parents to let him fly halfway around the world. For seven weeks, in the company of a young 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 through Bangladesh, Thailand, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, Craig witnessed the shocking variety and extent of child labor, and was transformed from a typical, middle-class kid into an activist. In New Delhi and Islamabad he created a sensation -- and learned something of the power of the media -- when he famously crossed paths with Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who was touring Asia with the "Team Canada" trade mission. By the time Craig returned home, he and the young people of Free the Children had gained an international profile.
Free the Children is a passionate and astounding story. It chronicles the continuing journey of one remarkable young activist -- and it is a moving testament to the power that children and young adults have to change the world.
The extraordinary journey of "The Most Powerful Kid in the World"
Craig Keilburger -- and the human rights organization he founded at age twelve -- have made headlines around the globe and have brought unprecedented attention to the worldwide abuse of children's rights.
Free the Children is the dramatic and moving story of Craig's transformation from a regular middle-class kid from the suburbs to an activist fighting on behalf of child laborers on the world stage of international human rights.