The Miracle of $300 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

May 1, 2008
My first encounter with the Invisible Children was a coincidence. I saw the film about children in Uganda who were abducted and trained as soldiers. I was completely horrified as I watched these innocent children talk about their traumatic experiences of murder and the fear of being killed. The last words of the Ugandan children lingered in my mind: “Please don’t forget about us.” Those words continued to ring in my head weeks later.

I was filled with disconcerting questions that lacked answers. Who grants the right for just a select group of people to lead prosperous lives? How can we laugh and smile while others suffer in this world? As if I had removed a protective colored lens from my eyes, I started to notice the darker shades of the world. I knew that I had to do something to help.

I showed the movie to two of my friends who I thought would help me start a club at my high school to raise awareness and funds for these children in Uganda. Knowing that our club needed secondary support, I contacted the Invisible Children Organization, a charity launched by the filmmakers. I signed my school up for their national tour to stop at our school.

I never expected that starting a charity club would be so difficult. Not only did we need financial and administrative aid, but also members. Additionally, we were under time constraints due to our heavy loads of homework and higher-level classes.

Despite everything, we were driven by our passion to help the kids in Uganda. We believed that the effort we put into the club meant a better life for them. However, we soon learned that passion alone could not create change.

As an adolescent, still living under the guidance of adults, I predicted that the teachers at our school would fully support our club if they heard about the child soldiers in Uganda, but in fact, we faced apathy from a majority of teachers. Strangely, our disappointment only strengthened our determination.

We continued our efforts to spread the story of the Invisible Children. We made flyers and posters; we sent e-mails and letters; we visited teachers and students individually. At first, students seemed unaffected by the plight of African children. Slowly, however, things started to change. The eyes that once displayed disinterest started to twinkle. The gaze that briefly passed over the Invisible Children poster turned back to read the content. Soon we could hear people, even teachers, talking about Invisible Children.

At the height of our school’s interest, we decided it was time to plunge into fundraising. One afternoon, we sat with the vice principal to present our ideas for various fundraising activities. At first, he rejected our proposals due to conflicts they would cause with sporting events and dances. Having already weathered many obstacles, we persisted, proposing new fundraising ideas until finally our efforts came to fruition.

We were given permission to sell paper bricks that would eventually build a “school.” Not only that, Key Club, another charity club at our school, offered to help. United by a single passion, the two groups sold the paper bricks for a week. On the last day, with the eyes of all members watching intently, we counted the money. We had raised $300! I will never forget our excitement.

Now, you might ask, why get so excited over just $300? Although it may not sound like much, it means 1,500 meals for the Ugandan children, and 300 hearts that will be touched.

Through Invisible Children, I was able to see our apathetic world with naked eyes. Yet the $300 we raised is proof of the hope that still exists in the midst of our world’s shadows. In the end, Invisible Children provided the most significant answer: Each and every life is valuable.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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freepeople22 said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 11:03 pm
Great writing about an even greater cause! My high school works with Invisible Children as well. I admire your talent and determination, keep it up.
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