By Kelsey Jochum, Entertainment Editor
Students and community members anxious to learn more about the organization Invisible Children left the MBSC Ballroom April 13 with knowledge of a conflict completely foreign to U.S. soil.
The organization presented “Tony,” a documentary chronicling three Southern California college students’ 2003 trip to Uganda.
Upon their arrival in Uganda, the students learned quickly they were stepping into a war zone.
Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), had been commanding a band of terrorists through Central Africa for seventeen years. One of his armies consisted entirely of children forced to kill anyone in their path. What had started out as a civil war against the Ugandan government had quickly turned into a mindless massacre, taking the lives of thousands of Northern Ugandans.
The three students, Laren, Jason and Bobby, saw many children, called “night-commuters,” hiding in their own village. These were children who could no longer live safe lives for fear of being abducted. As a result, they walked to the cities at night to find safe places to sleep. One child that stood out to them above all was a boy named Tony.
Tony’s story was the same as many of the Ugandan children forced into the cities at night to sleep, but for the three young men, Tony had a way of putting a face to the injustice.
Before they left to return to the States, Tony made them promise that they wouldn’t forget him, and their organization Invisible Children grew from that promise.
Invisible Children’s main purpose is to enlighten the public about the violence in central Africa. As the name implies, they strive to make the abducted child soldiers visible to the rest of the world.
Arguably, their most notable accomplishment is the passage of a bill through Congress and signed by President Obama in 2010 called the Invisible Children Protection Plan.
According to the bill, the United States agrees to help the citizens of LRA-affected communities in three ways.
First, radio towers will be built throughout the region, which will increase communication in attempts to track Joseph Kony and finally capture him. Secondly, they plan to rescue abducted children and return them to their families. Finally, children traumatized by their experiences will be sent to a rehabilitation center to prepare them to re-enter society.
With these three goals: radios, rescue and rehabilitation, Invisible Children hopes to end the war in central Africa and bring peace to a region that hasn’t known calm since Kony started his campaign of terror in 1986.
At the UNO presentation of “Tony” was a group of Invisible Children volunteers, one of whom was a student from Northern Uganda named Collines Angwech. After the film, she shared her experience of growing up in a war zone.
“I never felt safe in my own home,” she said.
Her cousin had been one of the children abducted in the war, she said, and the lives of these children are never the same.
“You cannot imagine the trauma that these children go through,” Angwech said. “The LRA forces children to kill their own family members so that, even if they do escape the army, they have nothing to go back to.”