Mar 2, 2010

Invisible Children made visable: Eye opening documentary reveals the plight of children in Uganda.

by Camille Smith

A war that began in Northern Uganda in 1986 is still raging today. Five years later in 1991, Amanda Mitchell was born. These two timelines would not cross for over 10 years, but when they did, neither would be the same.

Three young telling film makers, Bobby Bailey, Jason Russell and Laren Poole, flew to Africa in 2003 in search of an adventure and stumbled across the largely unknown story of the children of Northern Uganda on the run. Children were forced to leave their homes at night for fear that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) would abduct and engage them as militia soldiers. Bailey, Russell and Poole capture their footage of the situation and turned it into a documentary. The Invisible Children (IC) movement was born.

Meanwhile in Collegedale, Tenn., Amanda Mitchell was growing up in a town with less than 8,000 people. She was in her sophomore year of high school and was unaware of the plight of African children.

“All I really worried about was, ‘What am I supposed to do with my life,’ ‘Where do I fit in,’ ‘Where do I belong.’ These are things I was really struggling with,” Mitchell said. “I needed a purpose.”

Mitchell viewed the IC film “Invisible Children: Rough Cut” at her high school and her life was forever changed.

“For the first time in my life, I felt like somebody needed me,” Mitchell said. “Not only were my eyes being opened to these terrible atrocities happening in eastern Africa, but I was given a chance to actually do something about it.”

Since the creation of “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” which has been viewed around the world, the night flights have ended for children in Northern Uganda. However, the war against the LRA presses on. The organization has kept pace with the need in Uganda and has launched campaigns, tours and documentaries to promote awareness.

In one campaign, called Schools for Schools, American high schools are challenged to raise funds for schools in Uganda. The schools that raised the most money had an opportunity to send representatives to Africa.

“My school got involved in IC’s Schools for Schools program and we raised about $26,000 for our partner school in Uganda,” Mitchell said. “I was chosen to go and experience what we had been working so hard for first-hand.”

Mitchell’s trip is documented in IC’s most recent film, “Go,” which was viewed Friday, Feb. 26 at Liberty, coordinated by Lauren Edwards, IC campus director for Liberty.

“(‘Go’) floored me,” Edwards said. “It showed me that this girl who is 15 years old can raise thousands of dollars for people in Uganda. It doesn’t matter what age you are. Adults support this. Kids support this. You can really make a difference.”

Mitchell and other students who went to Uganda continued the fight to end the war in Africa even after they returned to America. They went to Washington, D.C., to support a congressional bill that would give $17 million to ward reconstruction in Uganda. The bill was passed.

The students are now working with IC to support the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, a bill that will provide $40 million to end the war.

IC’s “mini-celebrity” performer, Andrew “Koji” Shiraki, performed at the film showing Friday night. He has been involved with the IC since 2005 when he hosted the first east coast IC tour at Temple University.

“I really think that the moving thing about Invisible Children is the fact that it is a youth-driven movement and high school students and college kids are the main drivers of this movement,” Shiraki said. “To see people take art and knowledge and empower themselves to help others is hands-down the most inspiring thing I can think of.”

IC roadies Callum Fraser of Scotland, Lauren Bailey of Chicago and Marshall Band of Los Angeles travel with Mitchell on the journey to tell her story. They urge Liberty students to get involved. The IC Web site, invisiblechildren.com has up-to-date news and links to donations to as well as background information on the movement.

“This is what Christ is doing in my life and other people’s lives in Uganda,” Edwards said. “How will you help?”

Contact Camille Smith at
cjsmith3@liberty.edu.


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