Bryan DeVore, a teacher at Lighthouse Christian School, writes a letter to a state of Idaho senator to express his concerns about the war and the need for people to get involved in saving the children of northern Uganda. Prior to the event Bryan organized a group of junior high students to call senators to express their concerns as well.
As Generations X and Y Americans, we have no real understanding of what it is like to be caught in the middle of a longstanding war on our home soil. Unfortunately, the people of northern Uganda and the surrounding countries understand all too well because these countries are home to Africa’s longest running war which has lasted 23 years and is not over yet, though progress has been made because of awareness efforts by a few social activist organizations. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) These displaced people are not only forced to deal with limited access to clean water, health centers, economic opportunities and education, but on top of that, many of them are missing members of their families who have either died because of violence or health issues or have been abducted and forced to become soldiers is a war that is not their own.
On Saturday, April 25, people gathered in 100 cities worldwide to stand against the cruel acts in northern Uganda and surrounding areas. This event, called The Rescue, was organized by Invisible Children, a non-profit organization that focuses on transforming apathy into activism, and held on a local, national, and international scale. Participants marched through their cities and set up camp in a specific location to write letters and create works of art in hopes of gaining the attention of the local media and political leaders. Each individual group’s goal was to gain local attention that would ripple into national and international awareness and action.
The newly formed Invisible Children Club at Boise State University, led by President Amanda Brown, organized The Rescue Boise. The march started at a park near the state capitol building in downtown Boise and ended at the quad in the middle of the BSU campus. To get from the park to the campus, the large group of activists, mostly high school and college students, marched in two lines down both sides of Capitol Boulevard carrying signs to get the attention of pedestrians and commuters.
Among those in attendance was a group of forty junior high and high school students from Lighthouse Christian School in Twin Falls, Idaho. The group registered for the event when fifteen-year-old student Kelsi Fadness saw Rescue Boise listed on the Invisible Children website. Kelsi had been the driving force behind the excitement that has built amongst the students at her school. Prior to The Rescue, she led a series of four chapels at her school to encourage students to get involved. She even has a tattoo on her wrist to serve as a reminder to never be ignorant of the daily struggles of the people in northern Uganda.
“It was my birthday and I asked my dad if I could have a puppy or a tattoo,” Kelsi said. “A big reason I got the tattoo was so that I could share with others about the war and how they can get involved. It had really given me so many chances to talk to people about it.”
Bryan DeVore, one of Kelsi’s teachers, said, “The problems we see amongst Americans is apathy. We’re trying to encourage our students to get up from their video games and get involved. We can have a voice. Invisible Children started with three crazy college students and now they’re changing the world.”
Also participating in the event was 20 year old Acii Nancy, a first-year student at Boise State University who is studying at the university by means of a scholarship she received in connection with Invisible Children and BSU. Nancy left her home in northern Uganda in July of 2008 to study in the States and work toward a degree in Nursing. While speaking at the event she said, “I wouldn’t actually be here if it wasn’t for Invisible Children and Invisible Children wouldn’t be as successful as it is without all of you…Child soldiers will actually shoot you without remorse. It is because they have been brainwashed completely, so they don’t feel anything. The fact that you came to The Rescue for a stranger means a lot.”
Invisible Children, through events like The Rescue, is not only helping the children and families in Uganda, but it also getting the attention of young Americans and encouraging the youth to stand firm against the injustices that are happening against these people. A description of the organization’s mission statement on the Invisible Children website, insiviblechildren.com, states, “By documenting the lives of those living in regions of conflict and injustice, we hope to educate and inspire individuals in the Western world to use their unique voice for change. Our media creates an opportunity for people to become part of a grassroots movement that intelligently responds to what’s happening in the world.”