Written by Daniel Martin
An organization working to end violence in Uganda will be featured in Monday’s convocation.
A group of representatives and a native Ugandan plan to share about Invisible Children’s efforts in Uganda and central Africa where a war has been raging for 25 years.
“I hope we have a large turnout for convo on Monday, even though the time will be extended to 10:50,” said Becky Horst, associate registrar and convo coordinator who invited Invisible Children. “It will be a rare opportunity to see the work of passionate young filmmakers who want to heal the world peace by peace.”
Uganda and the surrounding area have been engaged in Africa’s longest-running war. The conflict involves the radical rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army, which is driven by a religious dogma that claims to fight for the will of God.
The rebel army affects local communities by abducting young children in order to indoctrinate their beliefs on developing minds. They manipulate young children into fighting machines. It is thought that about 90 percent of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s soldiers are abductees.
President of Oxfam in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in response to the Lord’s Resistance Army’s presence in the Congo, said, “Despite past military operations and increased international attention, the LRA is still able to wreak havoc in neglected communities and is responsible for widespread killings, abductions and displacement.”
Since September 2008, the Lord’s Resistance Army has killed more than 2,300 people, abducted more than 3,000, and displaced more than 400,000 others in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic.
For Sandrine Sandrali, sophomore at Goshen College, the numbers are personal. Sandrine Sandrali grew up in Rwanda but was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and still has family living there. She has seen firsthand the hardship and grief that war and political unrest causes for families.
Two of her uncles were recruited as children to fight in a war they did not understand. They were fortunate to return to their families after serving nearly a decade, but stepping back into a long-lost life is a difficult journey. “What I have seen back at home, the real world for me,” Sandrine said, “most people could never imagine here.”
But Sandrine sees the promise of a better world in the work of Invisible Children. What Invisible Children does is help create hope for people affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Invisible Children works to motivate not through guilt but by creating similarities between people. “Where we live should not determine whether we live,” says Jason Russell, co-founder of Invisible Children.
Invisible Children will be accepting donations as well as selling merchandise at the convocation and all of the funds raised go to support their Protection Plan. The Protection Plan is a multiple-step effort that involves building schools, a rehabilitation center, and installing emergency radio capabilities in remote villages. All these programs are grassroots-based and headed by local community members to help educate, defend and empower the people of Africa.
For more information go to InvisibleChildren.com to learn more about the organization or record.goshen.edu to watch videos that further explain what they do and what will be conveyed at convocation.
“The reality is we are all humanity,” Sandrine said in summation, “not just Americans and not just Africans.”
Links to videos from the Invisible Children website: