www.whyville.net Feb 13, 2008 Weekly Issue

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Free the Children

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Author's Note: Before you read this, keep in mind all the things you have in your life, and think about everything that you have that you don't even need. Realize how important it is to open your mind and think about the world around you that you are unaware of . . .

Today I was changed. Unmotivated to go to school, I rolled out of bed. I got ready and went to school. During first hour on the speaker, 150 selected students in National Honors Society and Student Council were requested to go to the theater for an assembly. I received a paper about some organization which I had never heard of, took my seat with some friends with a smile on my face. Never would I have guessed that by the end of this assembly I would be changed forever.

I took my seat and saw on the big screen a picture that said "Free the Children". I thought, "Okay, so what does this even mean? Freeing children from jail or something?" The speakers on the stage grabbed my attention the second they told me the reason of them being here. Free the Children is an organization to spread awareness about young kids who are taken out of school and taken away from education to work for family or for child labor. The two speakers gave us facts about this problem and ways that we could help. They showed us pictures and statistics that really made us think about our lives. I learned so much today, and even though it was more information I've been told in a week of school, I remember every single statement made.

Of everyone reading this right now, I bet most of you either take a bus or get a ride to school. Some may walk a mile or two . . .

There was a 12 year old boy living in Africa who walked 80 minutes everyday, back and forth, from home to school. He did this because he loved to learn and he wanted to become a successful person when he grew up. Everyday he would walk through valleys and even through a river just to go to school. He would sit at his desk, fit for one person, with four other children. He was the top learner in his school, but there was a friend of his who loved to learn as well. She was a hard worker who walked to school everyday too, and they would study together and help each other to get the best grades.

One day at school, she didn't show up. The boy was worried because this had never happened before. But days went by and still she didn't show up to school. Weeks later, the boy managed to get in contact with his friend, and when he saw her she was carrying logs in one arm, and a bucket of water on her head. He finally had discovered the reason she was not at school anymore; she was taken out because she was needed to walk the opposite way everyday to get drinking water from the river for her family. She had no choice. The boy received scholarships and was able to study in Canada and after years of being away from home he decided he wanted to come back to visit his family in his village. Suddenly he saw the girl from years ago who he knew so well, the girl who was his biggest competitor for the good grades in his school. He found out she was married to a man double her age and was pregnant with her third child. This is what made him realize that she could have been where he was now; a successful person, if it wasn't for her family taking her out of school in order to survive. This was just one of the stories told to us today in that assembly, and yes it is a true story.

Did you know that every 11 seconds a person dies from poverty? Did you know that every two seconds a child dies from not having enough water, or a water deficient related illness?

17 billion dollars are being used for the war. 14 billion dollars could be used to end poverty.

55 million people in China do not have jobs; 55 million children are being used for child labor. This is because salary wages are lower for children then there are for adults so the companies buy the children from their families and make them work for somewhere around three cents a day.

A few years ago, Gap was found guilty of owning a company that used children to make their goods. Gap replied that they were unaware of this and were completely against it, so to show they really meant this, they fired the company. Who do you think this helped and who do you think this hurt? Yes, it was the company, but more so the children. Now these children have no jobs to get money for their families. Now these families have no food to eat, and now they are homeless. You may ask yourself, "Then what is the purpose of creating a difference in this if either way something bad will happen?" It is a hard thing to comprehend, and it may feel overwhelming, but there is a way to change these problems. You may see yourself as one person and one person only and think that one person can't make a difference. But you can!

Craig Keilburger is a great example! He is the founder of the organization Free the Children. He created this when he was only twelve years old by reading an article one morning in the newspaper about a boy his own age that was murdered for raising awareness about child labor. He brought the article to his middle school class one day and asked if anyone would want to help him fight against this problem. Eleven students raised their hands, and that is how Free the Children was made. So when you say to yourself that one person can't make a difference, think about this organization and how with determination you can change the world.

Being in the audience of that assembly was the best thing that I have been able to attend in my life. I know that I am ready to be a person to make a difference in the world. One day, I will be one of those people helping out around the world to help bring education to children who, before, didn't have a chance. So far, over 450 schools have been built in villages and communities for kids, and more than 35,000 children have gotten the ability to get an education by providing these schools! I know that I may be one person, but I know that maybe I could be the one to make a difference in the way you see the world after reading this.

Here are some sites that give more information about this organization and what you can do to help raise awareness to the people you know:


Making a difference one step at a time,


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