Occasionally, on our journey through life, we meet a truly extraordinary person who literally changes the world with seeming ease and grace, who knows no limits, and is content to do nothing less than set new records and inspire the world to heights never before dreamed. Young Bilaal Rajan, of Toronto, Canada, is just such a person.
It's hard to believe that Bilaal has been motivated by a deep desire to help people in need, especially children, since he was four years of age, but he actually sold clementine oranges door to door. The $350 he raised was to help the 2001 earthquake victims in Gujarat, India.
How a four year-old could possess a comprehension for money, or the impact it can have is incomprehensible, but he must have found it personally rewarding, because from there he targeted global poverty and to date (2007), has raised over $50,000 for The World Partnership Walk. He found a powerful benefactor in the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) who matched that figure dollar for dollar.
Bilaal then went on to support the ravaged island of Haiti after the hurricane of 2004. He knew his $10 allowance would not be sufficient to help on the scale he had in mind, and his desire to help in a big way sparked a brilliant solution. Bilaal asked his father's company to donate boxes of cookies to sell at school recess to raise awareness and funds for the starving Haitian children. Bilaal was bright enough to realize he could be more successful if he leveraged the time and energy of others, and formed a team of 12 other children to help.
This inspired young man also set up a dedicated website, to raise awareness for children in need. In October 2004, Bilaal and his teammates presented UNICEF with a cheque for $6,387 from cookies sold. They'd never heard of such young people generating this size of donation, but the elated UNICEF representatives accepted with gratitude and amazement.
UNICEF Canada was so impressed, in fact, with Bilaal's achievements, that they made him their official child spokesperson. As such he publicly read Toronto Mayor David Miller's proclamation to make October 31, 2004 "UNICEF Day". Bilaal made front-page news and has appeared on television many times since to raise the awareness of the plight of the Haitian children.
Bilaal then reached out to over 50 major companies by phone and letter. APOTEX, a leading pharmaceutical company, donated prescription medicine worth $342,700 CAD for his cause. Heinz Canada donated over 2000 cases of baby food and Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart responded to Bilaal's appeal with gift certificates.
Another creative inspiration arose from some acrylic plates Bilaal made for his teachers as Christmas gifts. They loved them, so he decided to make more for a UNICEF drive for children with HIV. In the week prior to Christmas, Bilaal collected over $1,200 selling his unique, decorative plates. He was unstoppable!
Bilaal heard the call to action next when the South East Asian earthquake and tsunami disaster hit. On December 31, 2004, he issued a UNICEF Canada Kids Earthquake Challenge (www.unicef.ca) whereby urging Canadian children to raise a minimum of $100 each to achieve a total goal of $1 million. He also made a personal pledge to raise $10,000. Incredibly enough, the dynamic young crusader personally raised $50,000 and as a result, on January 14, 2005, the Toronto District School Board presented Bilaal and the President and CEO of UNICEF Canada, with a cheque for $1.3 million. The Government of Canada then matched this, making the final donation nearly $4 million!
Not suprisingly, many high profile people and agencies have honoured Bilaal for his remarkable efforts, including the Right Honorable Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, who organized a press conference. Bilaal wowed the crowd with his insights on fundraising and his vision for the world and the next day was front page news!
The 'Canada for Asia Concert' organizers invited Bilaal to be an announcer for the event initiated by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in January 2005. Canada's premiere artists, athletes, and performers joined Bilaal in the program that raised over $4 million CAD that night. Bilaal himself assisted the small Canadian Indonesian community in Toronto in organizing a fundraiser especially for the Indonesian victims. It was no surprise that this event, too, was a spectacular success and raised over $13,000 for tsunami relief.
In March 2005, UNICEF Canada named Bilaal their National Child Representative. Being a curious young man, Bilaal wanted to know how the funds raised for the tsunami victims were being used, and asked his parents to visit four of the most affected countries on his March break.There he met with dignitaries including the President of the Republic of the Maldives. Bilaal returned to Canada and reported back on the situation there, further raising awareness in the public and the media.
Bilaal personally visited Africa and the HIV infected children there. He selflessly spread his reassurance and support to the stricken kids in schools and orphanages. He also spent the summer of 2007 volunteering in Tanzania, Africa to bring awareness and education of HIV/AIDS to their communities.
Bilaal Rajan's official motto is "Together we can make a difference". He has garnered many members to join Hands for Help and the momentum is growing exponentially as Bilaal's initiatives have taken on a life of their own. The youngsters he's touched are in awe of his confidence and passion for what he does and are inspired enough to join him and make a difference in whatever ways they can.
Though only a boy, Bilaal has eloquently addressed organizations such as URISA Canada, FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance USA, Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Haitian and Indonesian communities of Toronto, Canada, and has recently been keynote speaker for the several provincial teachers' conferences. Bilaal clearly possesses an astonishing talent for not only bringing out the generosity in people, but for motivating them to join him. The results speak for themselves.
The experience this phenomenal crusader has gained in his many objectives came to an inevitable climax when he was inspired to design his "Eight Principles to Success" program which he shares by seminar at schools and through speaking engagements. Bilaal has authored two books on the success of his fundraising efforts and his Success Principles that will be available for purchase in the spring of 2008.
What a legacy Bilaal has begun-- and in 2007 he's only now 11 years of age! Your partnering with this visionary young man will make it possible for him to raise the consciousness of even the youngest of souls on the planet, and instill in them the purpose that so many of our lives lack today. In so doing, they will learn the importance of being of service to others, and will be primed to continue this work in brilliant ways in the future, leaving the world a better place than they found it, and keeping Bilaal's dream alive.