Montreal's senior monthly since 1986

Feb '10

Columns

13-year-old shows how children can help children

Torontonian Bilaal Rajan, 13, has accomplished more in his short life than most will in a lifetime.

He is a UNICEF ambassador, youth activist, fundraiser and author of Making Change: Tips From an Under­age Overachiever.

Rajan’s latest challenge is to get students to raise money for Haiti. He will shave his head in honour of the school that raises the most money, “just for fun,” he says.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what kinds of fundraising ideas young people come up with and how much money they can raise. Am I looking forward to going bald? Not so much.”

This latest venture challenges each Canadian student to raise $100. “I think the potential students have for raising millions of dollars is overwhelming.”

Bilaal visits schoolchildren in Malawi in 2007

Rajan began fundraising at 4, when he sold oranges door to door to raise money for the victims of the 2001 earthquake in India. By 7, he had founded an organization called Making Change Now. Its goal was to raise awareness and funds for children in the developing world.

At 8, he launched his first UNICEF fundraising challenge, which raised $1.8 million for those affected by the tsunami of South Asia.

He is hoping that the generosity he saw in 2008 will be matched for Haiti. All proceeds are donated to those affected. The Canada International Development Agency will match the contribution.

“The challenges of the Haitian people won’t go away overnight,” Rajan says. “But I know that students throughout Canada will step up to the plate and make every effort to help those who are suffering in the country.”

UNICEF 1-800-567-4483

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