On Wednesday, March 30, the group Invisible Children hosted a screening of its latest documentary, Tony, as part of its Congo Tour. The screening will fund the group’s efforts to protect and rehabilitate the victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a sectarian religious military group founded 25 years ago in Uganda. The documentary, which spans the eight years of Invisible Children’s existence, tells the story of the boy who served as the inspiration for the organization and the friendship he developed with the founders.
Although the LRA’s campaign began in Uganda, its activities have since spread to Sudan, the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Invisible Children aims to increase awareness through media and networking of the activities of the LRA, whose goal is to overthrow the Ugandan government and establish a theocratic state. Invisible Children also works to assist in the recovery of areas affected by LRA violence, in which thousands of people have been abducted.
One of the organization’s first goals was to provide education for Ugandans through the Legacy Scholarship and the Schools for Schools programs. The Legacy Scholarship Program is unique in that it provides the Ugandan students with a mentor from their community in addition to the means with which to continue their education.
Invisible Children has stated many times that the problems in central Africa must be addressed in a comprehensive manner — through achieving peace and improving education — as opposed to merely providing handouts. This community-oriented approach seeks to raise a generation that can lead the nation to a peaceful resolution.
In the United States, Invisible Children was instrumental in the passage of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act in May 2010, legislation that called for President Obama to form a plan to end the atrocities committed by the LRA. But since Obama’s plan called for a multi-year commitment from the international community instead of immediate action, Invisible Children decided to expand its mission to include the Protection Plan. This involves setting up early warning radio networks as well as building rehabilitation centers in affected African areas.
Funding for this program will come from a nationwide event on April 25. Participants in the “25 Event” pledge to remain silent for 25 hours and to raise at least $25 for the cause.
Another way to get involved is to become a full-time Invisible Children volunteer, or roadie, and travel across the country to host screenings and give lectures.
Like many other roadies, Alex, a blogger for Invisible Children who came as part of the team that hosted the Oberlin screening, was inspired to become a volunteer after seeing a screening at his high school.
But for Invisible Children blogger Fionah, who grew up in Uganda and was only able to continue her education through the Legacy Scholarship program, the reasoning was much simpler.
“I took a year off to do this. I really feel so happy doing this because I believe that once someone stood up and did this for me.”
More information about Invisible Children, its programs, and the 25 Event can be found at www.invisiblechildren.com.