Invisible Children at GACS

March 30, 2008
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In February of 2007, a black van pulled onto the GAC campus intending to change the lives and point of views of many high-school students. At the chapel assembly that day, a video was introduced that was filmed in order to show the world the atrocities that were happening across the ocean. The “Invisible Children” organization had made its mark on the GACS high-school student body. The Invisible Children movement is a non-profit organization that was started by three college students in 2003. Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole traveled to Northern Uganda in search of inspiration for a film. Once they reached Uganda, they found inspiration for a film that would, hopefully, one day save lives.

What Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole witnessed was the events of a civil war that has been raging in Northern Uganda for almost twenty-one years. In the 1980s, a Ugandan woman named Alice Lakwena claimed to have had a vision within a dream in which the Holy Spirit revealed that her purpose was to overthrow the Ugandan government. She took her vision seriously and began a movement to do just what she claimed the Holy Spirit had told her. She called it the Holy Spirit Movement. Resistance against the government was gaining speed and so was Lakwena’s “army.” Lakwena was banished from Uganda shortly after and the Holy Spirit Movement was left without a leader. A man named Joseph Kony soon stepped up to the plate. Being a violent man, Kony transformed the Holy Spirit Movement into a rebel force that would strike fear in many Ugandan hearts, the Lord’s Resistance Army. He adopted methods that alarmed many people, resulting in a lesser interest in Kony’s “LRA.” Because of the shortage in followers, Kony resorted to abducting children and forcing them to serve in his army. Statistics say that nearly 90% of the LRA is composed of abducted children.

The Ugandan government has watched these actions happen in their country for nearly twenty-one years and has done very little to protect their people. In 1996, however, the government began to set up guarded camps for refugees from the Ugandan cities. Now, a little over a decade later, 1.5 million people are taking refuge in these camps and conditions are declining rapidly within the camps as a result of disease, poverty, and starvation. Currently in Uganda, the government and the LRA are speaking of peace negotiations; a glimmer of hope for the north of Uganda.

The “invisible children” are the ones that no one in America really hears about. They are the children who are commuting miles every night to a bus parking lot and waking up before dawn just so they can go to school the next day. These are the children who are being forced to become killing machines; the ones who are brainwashed to forget who their friends are and what love means. These are the children who become family and who take care of each other because they are all they have. These are the ones for whom the Invisible Children organization is raising awareness all over the country.

When the Invisible Children representatives came to GACS, many of the high-school students were touched by what they saw in the film. Last school year on campus, student-led events were held on campus to raise money for Invisible Children. The “Rock for the Unseen” benefit concert was planned by the Guitar Club and an Invisible Children Benefit Party was led by junior, Kelsey Bright.
From that chapel on, talk of beginning an Invisible Children club at GAC flew through the high-school. This summer, a junior, Preston French, took the initiative and began a club with Invisible Children known as “Schools for Schools.” The Schools for Schools campaign began when the founders of the organization realized how important education is for the children growing up in Uganda right now and how poorly the school system was operating. The schools were overcrowded, did not have enough teachers, and, because of the war, 60% of schools had completely shut down. Schools for Schools creates a partnership between an American school and a school in Uganda. The partner school sponsors the Ugandan school and raises the standards in the school. The program consists of five different areas of improvement at the school: water, teachers, books, buildings, and technology. Each American school raises money and sends it to Schools for Schools where it is sent directly to the sponsored school. Preston French says, “You can see where your money is going…its like, wow, we just built them a well.”
This year, $10,000 of the money from the magazine sale was donated to the Schools for Schools movement which was sufficient enough to built them wells.

The awareness about the horrific events currently happening in Uganda is slowly, but surely, rising in America because of Invisible Children. GACS is becoming a part of the movement for peace in Northern Uganda. The student body is bettering the education and, eventually, the safety of millions of children in that country. The “invisible” children in Uganda are no different than the children in American and America should not be allowing the atrocity in their country to continue any longer. “We need to open our eyes- America needs to open their eyes (Preston French).”





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