Free The Children literally wants to free the children from poverty, exploitation, and the thought of being powerless. They put these three values into their mission statement, “Free the children from poverty. Free the children from exploitation. Free the children from the idea that they are powerless to change the world.” (Craig Kielburger, 1995). Young people are the main focus of this organizations work. With the help of their highly motivated and qualified staff members with backgrounds in mentorship and international development work, they do everything in their power not to just meet the minimum expectation of an ‘organization helping children’, but go above and beyond.
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Free The Children is not the type of organization to practice door-to-door fundraising. They make themselves accessible no matter the circumstances by empowerment programs such as: We Day- a day long incredible experience filled with speakers that have a wide amount of issues to share. The likes of Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Betty Williams and Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish were present making speeches about what meant most to them in correlation to children. There was no admission to the event, all that We Day asked was “a commitment to undertake one domestic and one international service action that same year.”(Craig Kielburger, 2007). We Day is also streamed all over the world so schools that could not participate would be able to join in, and be educated alongside the schools in Canada.
Another empowerment program Free The Children has operated would be Halloween for Hunger and Local Spotlight Campaigns. These two programs are more for recognizing local issues pertaining to young people in need of food in any given bounded community. Free The Children has made up a lesson plan to give to teachers to educate their students on how homelessness can be slowed down. It is also filled with other issues associated with youth homelessness. “In 2010, 585 schools raised 485,000 pounds of food for food banks in Ontario through the Halloween for Hunger Campaign.”(Craig Kielburger, 2010)
This great organization has reached many of their goals and has had many successes other than winning the World’s Children’s Prize. They have engaged people all over the world by educating them. If there are children that do not have schools to be educated in, Free The Children will build one. They have also sent out 207 thousand school and health kits to kids in need. There are now 55 thousand and counting children that have access to education because of Free The Children’s fundraising techniques. Thanks to their profitable administrative model 90 cents from every dollar goes straight to programmes that benefit children. Over the years that money has accumulated to so much, that they were able to give 16 million US dollars of medical equipment to countries with children in need like Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The medical supplies are now benefiting more than 500,000 people. They have said to attain better access for water for more than 1 million people with help from their volunteer overseas program.
Doing all of these great things for young people all over the world Free The Children has accumulated several awards over the years:
- World of Children Founders Award
- Human Rights Award from the United Nations World Association of Non-Government Organization
- Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship
- World Economic Forum Model
- State of World Forum Award
- Roosevelt Freedom Award
They believe there biggest weapon against poverty and child labour is education. Not only do they educate children, 3000 women have become economically self-sufficient using education, microloans and alternative income programs. Free The People plays a big role in the global issue of child labour. They have made it their job to take a stand against poverty and child labour in Kenya, Sierra Leone, China, Ecuador, India and Sri Lanka.
In Kenya there is a huge dilemma with the issue of a lack of education, especially with young girls. Instead of fulfilling their dreams and reaching their full potential little girls are forced into early marriages, and with the amount of the overflow of parental unemployment it forces kids to find work. The children are forced to work long hours, and do tough errands working as ‘house helps’ for very low income. The errands they have to do include unloading things from vehicles, and pushing heavy carts. These things can cause harm to young undeveloped bodies such as; stunting of growth and body deformities. Some parents even think they are helping their children by putting them to work early, they believe that it will turn them into responsible adults.
Sierra Leone was plagued with a ten year civil war. During that time kids were forced to work as combatants and labourers in diamond mines. Even after the war was over the children were still working in the dangerous mines, no one knows how many kids are still working in the mines today. Parents are accepting of their 7 to 16 year old children working in these mines because of the income they bring in, and the children working do not mind it because they are not aware of the opportunities they have outside of the mines. Teachers in Sierra Leone believe that the reason children will not come to school is they only respond to incentives and in the minds of most children in that country there are none compared to the money being made in the mines.