Friday, October 1, 2010

Guest Post by Judie Oron: We Day 2010

Today, we're lucky to have a guest post by author Judie Oron, who attended We Day in Toronto yesterday. Take it away, Judie!

18,000 teenagers filled the Air Canada Centre yesterday. It was We Day and I’d been anticipating this event, knowing that Free the Children co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger would be speaking, along with celebrated performers and a sprinkling of Nobel Prize Laureates.

And what an event it was! Since then, people have been asking, “What was the high point?” Whew! There were so many.

Betty Williams, the Nobel Prize Laureate who worked for peace in Ireland, asked the audience to get up and give each other a hug! But her manner was warlike when speaking of freeing children from slavery and abuse. “They said it couldn’t be done. So I said, ‘will ya just get out of my way!’”

“A dream that you dream alone remains a dream,” said renowned physician and author, Deepak Chopra. “But a dream that we dream together, combined with action--this can transform the world!” To the young listeners who had been working all year to build schools in Africa, this was just the reinforcement needed.

At twelve, Craig Kielburger went to Pakistan on a fact-finding mission and found himself freeing a child slave. As a boy who grew up in Canada, “I looked at him, and, except for our age, there was nothing similar between us.”

I couldn’t help thinking of my own experience in going to Ethiopia to look for Wuditu, heroine of Cry of the Giraffe. I remembered how she’d bow with her nose nearly touching the ground whenever I looked at her. What must her years in slavery have been like, to have produced such a horrifying, instinctive response?

My attention was caught by the mass of enthusiastic teenagers shouting, “freedom!” And I realized that this was not a moment to cling to sad thoughts but to celebrate achievements.
(top: the packed Air Canada Centre in Toronto; bottom: Craig Kielburger addresses the crowd)

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