Invisible Children helps restore peace in Uganda
An 8-year-old boy watches the last of his relatives die in a bloody attack by a group of radical soldiers dressed in sage uniforms. The men drag the little boy away to make him one of them — a rebel.
Invisible Children is an organization working to stop Joseph Kony’s rebel war from capturing and utilizing child soldiers in Uganda. It also aims to restore peace and prosperity in northern Uganda.
Staff from the organization presented a short film and spoke in chapel at UMHB.
Otim Charles, a staff member of Invisible Children, is an engineering assistant for the Schools for Schools program in Uganda. He became involved with Invisible Children three years ago and travels with the group.
“I have a lot of opportunities to share my stories and that will help change the life of so many,” he said.
However, Charles was not one of the key speakers in chapel, but came as an advocate for Invisible Children.
According to invisiblechildren.com, nearly two million innocent people have been affected by the war between The Lord’s Resistance Army and the government of Uganda for 23 years.
The government strives to protect its citizens from the rebel militia but has failed. Consequently, peace is unheard of for an entire generation of youth.
Charles is from the Gulu District, and it is his first time to travel away from home to speak about the ministry. He believes the war will come to an end and the people affected by it will see peace.
“Children who are still in captivity will be able to come home and be with their families,” he said.
Charles has a strong belief in the power of education. He explained how the children attending school in northern Uganda will affect the country as a whole.
“They will have opportunity to have better life in the future and better leaders within northern Uganda,” he said.
Charles mentors a student at Gulu University, Francis Ojok, who spoke in chapel last semester. He described his toils with education before programs assisting secondary schools emerged.
“My education wasn’t consistent because I have so much problem that I couldn’t handle by myself and the most problem was the school fees,” he said. “At some point I tried myself and bettered myself and levered so much to pay my own school fees.”
Ojok sees education in a broader way.
“I believe education is the way to be able to sustain everlasting peace,” he said.
Ojok described the state of northern Uganda today.
“I would say at this point, a normal day is peaceful because we don’t have war anymore,” he said. “The war has been moved away from northern Uganda, so people are starting to go back to their original places.”
According to invisiblechildren.com, peace did not seem far behind because of the Juba peace talks.
In Juba, Sudan, from June 2006 to March 2008, the Lord’s Resistance Army and the government of Uganda engaged in a series of peace talks to end the conflict. Special envoys from the U.S. and other nations supported the talks.
Andrea Ramsay is a roadie for the organization, which means she spreads the word about Invisible Children. She goes to universities, high schools and places of worship.
“Not only do they learn about this conflict but start thinking in a more global mindset,” Ramsay said. “We’re hoping that when we leave each screening people will understand.”
Ramsay knows that not everyone can help the way some others can, but believes that one’s voice is just as powerful.
“We realize that not everyone is in the position to respond, not everyone can be a roadie, not everyone can donate $35 a month, but everyone can tell someone else,” she said.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act into law May 24.
“People can read that bill. They can respond to it. They can write their senators,” Ramsay said.
Charles believes it’s important for America and the rest of the world to help each other.
He said, “Because it is like the same body.”