Imagine living in a place where you did not have the freedom to live as a child. You couldn’t have the memories of racing your bike down the street with friends, going to summer camp, or even going to school. In countries all over the world, children of all ages, work as child labourers. Now there are many children or young adults in North America who work, but this is completely different from child labour. You may have a part time job after school or on the weekends. You make extra spending money, and gain social and work skills. This is not child labour. Child labour is work that is harmful to a child’s physical and mental development. One in seven children are exposed to this kind of labour, kept from school and the chance to improve the situation they were born into. They are often put in danger too. Every year, 22,000 children die from accidents related to their work. And that doesn’t say anything about the mental and emotional harm of being forced to work long, hard hours or experiencing things that no person should. (www.freethechildren.com)
For Craig Kielburger, Iqbal Masih was his inspiration to begin Free the Children. When Iqbal Masih was born in a small village in rural Pakistan, his father abandoned the family. Iqbal’s mother struggled to support her children as a house cleaner, but could not. When he was four years old, Iqbal was sold for $16 into bonded labour at a carpet factory. He worked 12 hours a day and was horribly undernourished and abused.
When Iqbal was nine years old, a local labour rights organization helped him escape the factory. He was given a place at a school for freed child labourers in Lahore where he’d be safe. Iqbal began telling other child labourers about the law in Pakistan that made bonded labour illegal-they had never heard about this law. When children started to follow Iqbal’s example and escape the factories, the owners threatened Iqbal and his family. But he didn’t back down. At age 12, he travelled to Sweden and the U.S. to speak out against child labour. When he returned to Pakistan in April, 1995, Iqbal was shot and killed.
Free the Children
From Iqbal’s story, Craig founded Free the Children in 1995 at the age of 12. Free The Children believes in a world where all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. They are a Canadian charity and educational partner that empowers youth to remove barriers that prevent them from being active local and global citizens. Their domestic programs educate, engage and empower hundreds of thousands of youth in North America and the UK. Their international projects have brought over 650 schools and school rooms to youth and provided clean water, health care and sanitation to one million people around the world, freeing children and their families from the cycle of poverty. Free the Children has over 60 different corporate partners, one of them being B. Toys.
Just B. Just You. B. You.
B. is a brand-new brand of toys from family-run, Montreal-based manufacturer Battat, Inc., that believes all children of the world deserve a chance at childhood. After decades of making toys, a team of designer-friends at DoodleDo, in partnership with family-run manufacturer Battat, decided it was time for toys that made a difference to the world and the children in it in 2009. With their belief that children are powerful beyond belief they were able to become a corporate partner with Free the Chidlren from the day they founded B. You Toys. Their products are not only unique, but inspirational!
How perfect that a toy bought for a child on this end of the planet can help a child far away, who by mere stroke of fate is substantially less fortunate. Free The Children’s model of empowering children to help other children parallels B.’s beliefs completely––that children are powerful beyond measure, that all their voices should be heard (justb-byou.com/quotes). To that end, Free The Children receives 10¢ from every B. toy purchased. May not sound like a lot, but as dimes add up they change the world.
In today’s world something that is extremely important to the society is the planet. With our land fill sites filling up, green house gas emissions, and the risk of global warming it is important to do everything in our power to decrease our ecological footprints. B. You toys has the same idea. All of their products are made out of recycled materials, and packaged in reusable bags. They even design their boxes to become pretty trays to hold tiny treasures, make some packages reversible to become gift wrap, and use inks that are soy-based and varnishes that are water-based.
B. started with a collection of their own kids’ quotes and made a pretty little booklet to place in each B.toy package as a smile for moms and dads. Fortunately, that was only the beginning of the story. With every person who became part of the B. family, the collection grew.
Their toys hit the shelves and something really magical happened. They started getting quotes from parents who bought and loved our toys. Now they have a website where anyone can share with us and the world the wonderful things their children have said.
You can share your own children’s quotes at http://justb-byou.com/quotes/ .
Some Quotes found on the Justb-byou Website
“Alex, mom should have it because it matches her eyes.” Meghan, 5, on what bowl mom should have for breakfast.
“You have a snore on your mouth.” Ashley, 3, a cold sore.
“Don’t think just follow Mommy’s directions.” Grace, 6, in car with Grandpa who said, “I think we should turn here…”
What a Great Cause
I believe that children are our future. They have the power to create, change, and better the world! With organizations like Free the Children, and companies like B., children have the opportunity to make positive changes internationally. Whether it is by simply purchasing a B. toy, by raising funds for Free the Children, or travelling across the world to help those in need, every effort helps change someone’s life! I am a proud supporter of Free the Children and B. You Toys. I just recently raised over $700.00 for Free the Children at a local function, by selling baked goods, lemonade, and cosmetics! Help make a difference in the the lives’ of children across the globe by making a donation, and buying a B. You Toy for that special child in your life!