February 6, 2012
Imagine having to make a trek every night away from your family to hideout from getting kidnapped. Imagine not having an education or a safe place to live. Imagine being kidnapped and forced to become a child soldier. Imagine having to watch your family killed or worse, you are forced to kill them. Does not sound too appealing does it? This is what the children of Uganda face every day of their lives. They do not get a proper education or a safe neighborhood. Every day they live in constant fear of not knowing whether they will see their family again in the morning. While this seems like a huge issue in the world not many people knew much about it before three guys decided to make a difference. The companion tactics of three young men were able to make a huge difference on a problem that they merely stumbled upon. In 2003 during the spring, three filmmakers traveled to Africa searching for a story to film. What started out as a filmmaking adventure became much more when Jason, Laren, and Bobby stumbled upon Africa’s longest-running war--a conflict where children were being used as both the weapons and the victims (Poole). All it took was a filming expedition of three young men to discover this problem in Uganda and want to make a change. In 2006, Invisible Children became an official non-profit organization. The history of the Lord’s Resistance Army can be traced back to 1986 when Yoweri Museveni gained the presidency of Uganda. Alice Lakwena, a woman from the Acholi tribe in northern Uganda started the Holy Spirit Movement in opposition (Hall, Holly, & Panepento, 2007). The group recruited followers and forged alliances with rebel militias with the intent of entering Uganda’s capital city and freeing the north from government oppression. The Holy Spirit Movement had regional support, but regional support only. When Alice Lakwena was exiled to Kenya, there was no obvious person to take over leadership of the Holy Spirit Movement (Poole). Soon after Joseph Kony assumed management of the group, he changed the name to the Lord’s Resistance Army. Joseph Kony wasn’t able to keep up the group’s numbers or regional support, so he started stealing food and abducting children to fill the ranks. Subsequently, he lost any remaining community support. What had started out, as a rebel movement to end the oppression of the north became an oppression of the north in itself (Dona, Giorgia, & Veale, 2011). Joseph Kony’s tactics were and still are extremely brutal. He forced children to kill their parents or siblings with machetes or different harsh tools. He also abducted many girls to be sex slaves for his officers. He brainwashed the children with his lies and manipulated them with his claim to have some sort of spiritual powers. At the height of the conflict in Uganda, children “night commuted.” That is, every evening they would walk miles from their homes to the city centers (Dona, Giorgia, & Veale, 2011). There, hundreds of children would sleep in schoolhouses, churches, or bus depots to avoid abduction by the LRA. Starting in 1996, the Ugandan government, unable to stop the LRA, required the people of northern Uganda to leave their villages and enter government-run camps for internally displaced persons (Dona, Giorgia, & Veale, 2011). These camps were supposedly created for the safety of the people, but the camps were rife with disease and violence. At the height of the conflict, about 1.7 million people lived in these camps across the region. The conditions were squalid and there was no way to make a living. Thus a generation of Acholi people was born in these camps and never learned a trade or how to farm (Poole).
Half of Invisible children’s work happens on the ground in Central Africa, and the other half happens in the United States. In Central Africa, all of the programming is a partnership between Invisible Children and LRA-affected communities (Poole). They focus...
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