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Aug 01, 2017 at 07:19

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kailash Satyarthi, wants to share an important experience with every child who can read this.  

My dear young friends,

Did you know that on the 11th of December we launched a campaign called the ‘100 Million for 100 Million’?  ‘100 million’ was flagged-off by our Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee from the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

Thousands of children, like you, attended the ceremony. We even marched to the Vijay Chowk, chanting slogans, and making loud the promise of a better future. It was my proudest moment in years.

For 36 years, I have helped free children, some as young as 5 and many as old as 15, from people who torture and enslave them. I have led them into classrooms and shared in joy, the success of their hard work. I have seen in the eyes of their mothers and fathers, hope, just as your parents have for you. One of my favourite moments is from the Bal Ashram (home and school to boys freed from work) of us playing cricket together.  Cricket is my favourite sport and young girls and boys, my most-beloved teammates.

There are many things one learns at school. At your age, I remember feeling compassion and brotherhood for my friends who were having difficulty joining the next class.  Our teachers said it was because they didn’t have enough money to purchase new books and uniform. I was very sad.  After all, why should money decide if our friends are going to study or not?

Therefore, my group rented a wooden cart and left to collect old books from parents whose children had passed their exam. We managed to get more than 2000 books in a few hours which was sufficient to put all my friends back in class with us. People started calling me, “Kailash book bank-vala”. Even today, when I return to Vidisha, my hometown, I often meet children whose parents went to school because of the book bank. My experience was very encouraging. It was the first time I had made a real difference.

Young friends, there are many things you’ll learn at school. But, the most important thing you’ll learn is that there is a hero inside you.

Did you know thousands of children wake up to go to work instead of school?  Thousands more are separated from their families forcefully and sold off to strangers for prices lesser than a pizza or your favourite box of chocolates.  These children are your brothers and sisters.  They also deserve a happy and protected childhood.

When we bring the ‘100 million for 100 million’ campaign to your school, neighbourhood or home, I want you to participate and become the hero you are meant to be.

Boys and girls, your teachers say that you are the leaders of tomorrow. Tell them, I said, ‘you are the leaders of today.’  You are the true beacons of power, you are our hope for a better future. You will protect and take care of your brothers and sisters because heroes fight for what is right. Because, heroes do not wait for others.  Because, heroes rise above everything, for the good, the better and the best.

Young friends, it’s time to change the world.  It is time we become heroes.

For more information, visit satyarthi.org.in