Jun 4, 2009



The spelling is different, depending on where it’s spoken, but the meaning is always the same.
It’s the coming together of people to work for the collective good in Quichua, the language of the Inca.

When the indigenous Puruha use the word, everyone – men, women and children from villages as far as five walking-hours away – come to help.

There’s no English equivalent.

Craig Kielburger’s tried to find one: Volunteerism, barn-raising, rioting for a good cause.
But nothing’s come close to equal the ferocious community spirit he witnessed in a little village in South America when they needed to build a school.

“Language reflects the culture – the more words you have for something, the more important it is,” Kielburger said, noting how many words Western society has for money.
“We need amina in schools, in families, in workplaces, in communities.
“We need amina on a global level.”

And cultivating that sense of togetherness and encouraging people to be the change they want to see was the purpose of his presentation at the Sagebrush Theatre on June 3.

Kielburger, international child-rights activist, three-time Nobel peace prize nominee, author and co-founder of Free the Children and Me to We, said each person has the power to revolutionize the world they live in.

“All of us, at some point in our lives, will see something so fundamentally wrong that we have to do something about it,” he said, adding it doesn’t matter that size of the issue, but rather to just get involved.

“This is how change happens – through one act of kindness.

“This is how movements are born.”

After reading an article in the Toronto Star about child poverty, the then Grade 7 boy decided he would travel south east Asia and research children’s issues and find ways to overcome them.

And he did. He started a movement.

He’s now 26 – and he still believes it starts with one.

It started with Kielburger and 11 friends 14 years ago and has since has grown into a group of 12 million students across the globe.

Free The Children was founded in 1995 by Kielburger and is the world's largest network of children helping children through education and development programs in 45 countries.

Me to We is a new social enterprise for people who want to change the world through daily choices and supports the Free the Children’s work with youth, creating global change.

Kielburger admitted he is “shamelessly idealistic” but said his organizations are just one example of the power if everybody stood up for what they believe in.

And Kamloops proved his theory true.

At $15 at ticket, the fundraising event sponsored by Investor’s Group garnered $8,500 – all of which was given to Free The Children and used to build a school in Africa.

But, he said, there’s no reason to stop and urged people to continue on the impetus.

“The easy thing would be to leave here, crank the tunes, go home, finish work from your job or from school, turn on the TV and veg out.
“The harder thing would be to keep the radio off and start that conversation . . . what is the issue your passionate about? What is the gift you can give?
“You don’t have to finish that conversation – but at least start it.”

Copyright Kamloops This Week 2009


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