Students try to create campus branch of Invisible Children, which aids war victims in Uganda

Lizzie Rivard

Related: Protesters, including Northwestern students, spent the day in Chicago a few weeks
ago to draw attention to child soldiers in Uganda as part of the Invisible Children Movement.
Video by Chris Kirk

Northwestern students joined about 500 volunteers camping out on the streets of Chicago for six days until Oprah Winfrey “rescued” them May 1 to raise awareness for Invisible Children, an organization dedicated to war victims in northern Uganda.

After experiencing torrential rains, meeting with volunteers from across the country and speaking with the organization’s founders, McCormick freshman Alex Park said he was inspired to bring the group’s message to NU and start a campus chapter of the organization.

“It was an interesting experience to see what kind of situation the children in Uganda are in,” he said. “But what they go through is probably 10 times worse than what I experienced.”

Invisible Children began in 2003 when three filmmakers traveled to Africa and recorded the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda in the film “Invisible Children: Rough Cut.” As the result of this ongoing 20-year war, children in conflict areas must flee their homes every night or risk being forcibly drafted into the army as child soldiers.

Widespread screenings of the film inspired an international movement to protect these children and to improve their lives through fundraising and awareness.

Park, Weinberg freshman Alice Lee and Communication freshman Jenny Lee held a screening of the film on campus during Winter Quarter and are currently spearheading an effort to get an NU Invisible Children chapter established and recognized by the Associated Student Government by Fall Quarter.

ASG Student Groups Director Miles Drummond said an Invisible Children organization at NU would offer opportunities for students interested in human rights or relief efforts.

“We’re always welcome to have new groups on campus that serve a unique purpose,” the Communication junior said.

The organization will hold fundraisers and events to promote advocacy and awareness, Jenny Lee said.

“We really want to get people to know about it,” she said. “We want to help people understand the issues in Uganda and help people become as interested as we are.”

Ignorance is the first hurdle to supporting the invisible children, Alice Lee said.

“One of the biggest problems is lack of awareness,” Alice Lee said. “It’s our mission to let people know what’s going on.”

After Winfrey “rescued” the participants by featuring them on her show May 1, traffic to invisiblechildren.com has nearly overloaded the site, Alice Lee said.

Jenny Lee said she believes that, like Winfrey, NU students have a lot to offer Invisible Children.

“We’re all talented,” she said. “We can do anything to support Invisible Children.”

Though the civil war in Uganda continues to devastate children and families, Alice Lee said she remains hopeful of further action through Invisible Children. International attention to the cause has led to peace talks and the mobilization of several nations in response to the injustices there. The U.S. government has identified the Lord’s Resistance Army as a terrorist organization under the U.S. Patriot Act.

“If you want to fix something, start with one little thing,” Alice Lee said. “This is about the children in Uganda – it’s not just an ‘end poverty’ or ‘end world hunger’ kind of thing. The progress that you’ve seen now makes you believe that there will be more progress.”

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