Friday, April 27, 2007

Invisible Children

Today at school, we had an assembly about the terrible conflict happening in northern Uganda. We watched an hour and a half film in which three young (early twenties) Americans went to Africa in search of a good story, and found terror and devastation. The result was a documentary called Invisible Children: Rough Cut, and it has inspired millions.

The LRA, or Lord's Resistance Army, is a terrorist faction in Uganda that, in essence, wants to overthrow the Ugandan government. For approximately twenty years, the LRA, led by Joseph Kony, has been murdering innocent civilians and destroying any chance for hope. But because their support has been dwindling, the main recruits of the LRA are children ages 7 to 14. In fact, 90% of the soldiers are this age. Most of these children are orphans because their parents have been murdered by the LRA, or have otherwise been separated from them. So, children are forced to flee their homes, commuting at night to find new safe places to hide, some making it to displacement camps, others left to fend for themselves. If they don't make it, they face abduction, torture, brainwashing, and murder. And even if they make it to the camps, the LRA conducts raids and could potentially attack anywhere at anytime.

Needless to say, I was captivated and horrified by this film. I nearly cried at the injustice of it. They showed a segment where the camera went over a filthy hospital floor. There must have been thousands of children packed onto the floor. It was strange; in all of the instances they showed, there are rarely any adults, but everyone is organized and cooperates, makes space for people to sleep. No one cries. No one laughs. Everyone is too intent on just surviving.

There is, I think, a certain amount of desensitization that occurs when you live in a country where you can take the simplest things for granted. We see and hear things on the news about people dying all the time; it's become almost normal for people like me and my friends to hear about the Iraq war going badly and people dying. I usually don't give it a second thought. It makes me uncomfortable for a minute sometimes, but then I think, it's a world away, what can I really do. The moment passes, and I move on.

For the first time, I'm really feeling something like this hit me. The loss of any life is a terrible thing, and it's time that everyone wakes up to the realities of our times. Most of my friends brushed off the film like it was nothing, let the messages slide off them easily. I don't see how they can. This is too important to brush off. I feel for once something real should be done; I want to make things happen.

The good news is, something is being done. Schools all over the US have joined the Schools for Schools movement, in which students raise money to benefit schools K-12 all over northern Uganda to buy supplies, hire teachers, refurbish buildings, and more. Also, it's a great way to raise awareness. My highschool, Kamiak, is involved; that's how I came to see the film in the first place. Another movement taking place is Displace Me. This is a demonstration occuring in many cities on April 28 across America, where Americans are becoming displaced, and spending the night away from home outside in a simulated displacement camp. This is one way to raise awareness about the cause. During the event, testimonials will be given from those who have seen or been in the displacement camps, and attendees will be asked to write letters to their senators, encouraging peace talks and urging action. The third movement is the Tri Campaign, in which you can donate as little as 3$ a week to support the various . But this isn't all; there are more events that could be happening in your area, because of the Schools for Schools program. You just have to get involved, know what's going on.

Please, click on the links. Learn about Invisible Children. Education is the first step. I put up a couple banners on my sidebar, and I'll post all of these links on there as well.

Get informed. Take action. Make the world see these invisible children.

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