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Faces for the Invisible Children

Three young Americans from the University of Southern California [USC] traveled to Africa with no apparent agenda. But they came across a touching story of fear and the fight for survival.

Originally, Bobby Bailey, Jason Russell and Laren Poole ventured to the barren lands of Africa to capture footage on the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Their plans drastically changed as they witnessed the child night commuters of Uganda.

Invisible Children is a documentary on the heartrending stories of children who are abducted by rebel forces in Northern Uganda and forced into joining them in their killing sprees. Between 16,000 and 26,000 children are forced to serve in this army’s military forces.

Under the leadership of Joseph Kony the Lord?s Resistance Army trains children to kill and steal other children from schools to add to the regime. He uses witchcraft and murderous threats to desensitize the vulnerable children to kill.

With hopes to avoid abduction, these migrant children spend each day fleeing from their family homes to find safety and solace in the bus stops and verandas of the nearest city.

The DVD includes extra features and an hour-long version of the movie that better explains the history of Uganda?s 17-year-long war. Through gruesome imagery, the movie illustrates Kony?s desires to overthrow the Ugandan government by terrorizing its unprotected citizens.

According to the Northern Uganda Crisis Response Act, the Secretary of State has designated the Lord’s Resistance Army as a terrorist organization. It is also the second worst humanitarian crisis in the world, after the attempted ethnic cleansing of the black African population in the Sudan.

The personable and authentic stories of these invisible children inspires movement among the young and passionate to act on behalf of the tragedy in Northern Uganda.

?I have a passion for doing things for other people,? Sammie Krikorian, sophomore class representative, said. ?The movie was reasonable, personal and realistic. Even as high schoolers we are capable of spreading the word of these tragedies.?

Campus leadership students plan on spreading the word of this crisis to other local schools. They will contact the student leadership classes at other schools, show them the movie and talk about what they can do together to continue spreading the news.

Along with developing fundraising programs, an all-valley showing of the documentary to local leadership classes is already in process. Students outside the leadership class also desire to help increase awareness.

?Any one person can be involved in it and without obligations,? Aaron Ortiz, ?07, said. ?I hope to join the leadership efforts to campaign to the other community schools.?

Katie Bradel, an active proponent and advertiser of the film and close friend of the original three enlighteners, fully supports the ?Invisible Children? campaign. ?This film has been warmly received wherever we have taken it,? Bradel said. ?Lots of students have signed up for the Night Commute already and more sign up after every film viewing.?

Bradel lives in San Diego where the Invisible Children offices are located. She also traveled to Uganda and helped with the filming of the final feature.

?The governments will do what the people want,? Bradel said. ?We can do a lot to end the war by asking the American government to influence the Ugandan government to take action.?

The goal of advertising the film is to get as many people as possible in the 146 participating cities nation wide to attend the Global Night Commute. The movement will be held on April 29 and hopes to raise awareness by a mass gathering at Northpoint Community Church at 4625 W Palo Alto.

For more information on the Global Night Commute and the Invisible Children movement, go online at www.invisiblechildren.com.

The purpose of the commute is to demonstrate what hundreds of Ugandan children do every night. Each night more than 18,000 children leave their homes and walk many miles to the nearest city to find a safe place to sleep and hide from the rebels.

Most of those who view the film come from a youthful generation full of resources and possibilities. Many seek to make these possibilities a reality. The fact that three normal college students created waves in society by pure inquest inspires others to do the same.

?The movie absolutely blew me away,? Bethany Morton, ?06, said. ?It made me feel like I could do something. If three college students could, then I can make a difference too.?

The final feature film will be in theaters in about a year. Since the rough-cut version of the film first appeared, the three USC students traveled back to Africa to continue giving faces to the invisible children.

The Northern Uganda Crisis Response Act reported the conflict in Uganda to the United States Senate. The Act was passed by unanimous consent in May 2004.

The Northern Uganda Crisis Response Act urges the Government of Uganda and the international community to assume greater responsibility for the protection of civilians. It also urges the leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army to stop the abduction of children, and urge all armed forces in Uganda to stop the use of child soldiers, and seek the release of all individuals who have been abducted.

It is relatively simple to get involved. Anyone can give their time, throw a house party to spread the word or raise money in a unique way. A house party kit is available online and encourages people to spread the word through viewings of the film.

?It is a simple thing to do,? Krikorian said. ?You can turn it into fun. It is a very easy way to do your part.?

For more information on how to get involved in this worthwhile cause, go online to www.invisiblechildren.com. For information on the Northern Uganda Crisis Response Act go online to http://www.theorator.com/bills108/s2264.html.

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