You Can Make a Difference

This is one of my very favorite Scoutmaster’s Minutes. The boys in my troop probably have it memorized. But I think you’ll like it as much as I do.

In April of 1995 an individual named Craig Kielburger who lived in Canada sat down at the breakfast table and picked up the newspaper. As was his habit, he went straight for the comic section first. But before he could get to the comics, an unusual story about a young boy caught his eye.

It was the story of a young Pakistani boy who, at the age of four years old, was sold into slavery by his parents. For the next six years he was chained to a loom. His job was to tie thousands and thousands of tiny knots in the process of making rugs. For this he was paid three cents a day. His will was never broken and he escaped. He began to draw attention to the horrors of child labor in Pakistan. He was now twelve years old. When he began to gain international attention and the rug manufacturers began to lose orders, this young boy was shot and killed.

Craig Kielburger was horrified at the murder of this young Pakistani boy. He wanted to know more. He contacted human rights organizations all across the world and he assembled a group of his friends to form an organization called “Free the Children.” The organization took off and achieved some amazing results. Craig Kiellburger was enthusiastic in leading his organization against the inhumane treatment of children in third world countries.

Craig Kielburger decided that he had to go and see first hand the working conditions of South Asian children. He journeyed through the world of slums, sweatshops, and back alleys where so many of the children of this region slaved away in menial and dangerous jobs. He traveled through Bangladesh, Thailand, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. He witnessed the cruelty and the extent of child labor. He crossed paths with the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien who was touring Asia with the Team Canada trade mission. Craig Kielburger attained an international profile during this trip.

For his tireless work in this regard, Craig Kielburger received the Roosevelt Medal of Freedom and the State of the World Forum Award. He was made the Ambassador to the Children’s Embassy in Sarajevo and was named a Global Leader of Tomorrow at the World Economic forum in Davos, Switzerland. He received the Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Meritorious Service.

This is an amazing story of courage and persistence. But what makes it even more astounding is this one incredible fact.

That Canadian individual who picked up the newspaper early one morning in 1995, intent on reading the comics but instead reading a story that would change his life and the lives of millions of others…….that individual……. Craig Kielburger……..

Was only twelve years old.

Scouts, do you know what that means? It means that you don’t have to be an adult to make a difference in your school, your community, your state, or even your world. All you have to do is believe in something with all your heart, have confidence in yourself that you can make it happen, and then do it. People of all ages will see in you the conviction and the dedication that will encourage them to follow your example. You can make a difference.

© Bill Shaffer 2004