The crisis that has been taking place in Uganda over the course of the past two decades has received very little attention in America, but one Knox club wishes to change that. Invisible Children, Knox Chapter (IC) hopes to raise awareness of the situation in Uganda through various fundraisers and events both on and off campus.
Beginning in 1987, the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency has become one of the longest-running conflicts on the African continent. A self-proclaimed Christian guerilla army, the LRA is responsible for many human rights violations and acts of violence, including torture, rape, several massacres and the use of child soldiers. IC, a national movement that is progressively becoming international, focuses in particular on helping the children of Uganda and drawing attention to the use of child soldiers.
“This club is extremely important because it is bringing to light a long-ignored problem in the world. Without the work of Invisible Children, there is a possibility that the war could still be raging, the children could still be hiding from the rebels every night, and the world would still not know of these atrocities. Because of Invisible Children, we are now working on rebuilding schools, and rebuilding the nation of Uganda,” said the club’s president, sophomore Melinda Jones.
Jones became interested in IC when a classmate from high school went to Uganda with IC and brought back the story of the war with him. Last spring Jones attended “Displace Me,” an event held nationwide by IC. With help from junior Lauren Peretz and Alliance for Peaceful Action, Jones was one of ten Knox students able to go to the event in Chicago. This past fall Jones was contacted by sophomore Andrea Houlihan, who was interested in starting an IC chapter at Knox.
“I guess I helped to start the invisible children group on campus because I feel like it is an organization that allows students to take immediate action to help the people in Uganda. By donating just $10, you can see the impact that the money makes; you can track how it adds up and see pictures of the school that it is going to help. It’s really easy to get lost in yourself, your own problems and your own life, but being apart of Invisible Children helps you to get outside of that,” said Houlihan.
By winter term the club already had a sizeable group of dedicated members and was able to attain club status the week before finals. That weekend a showing of the Invisible Children Rough Cut Documentary was held in Kresge Hall with 85 people attending. The money raised in the weeks during and prior to the showing totaled over $750.
“We were extremely excited about the response Knox showed to the message of IC, and plan on continuing to do more to continue raising funds and awareness,” says Jones. The club is also partnered with Schools-to-Schools, a division of IC, which pairs a school in America with a school in Uganda. For the Knox chapter, this school is Layibi School. All of the money raised by the club will be donated directly to Layibi School for the purpose of teacher housing. IC will be tabling all next week to raise money for this school.
“When we have such a real connection to something, it’s hard to turn away and not care,” said Houlihan of the club’s tie to Layibi School.
“Our goal as a club this term, is to raise half of our annual goal for our partner school. We know that this is an ambitious goal, but we are committed to this cause and have received a lot of positive feedback from students here at Knox. We are also committed to continuing to spread the word about IC to the Galesburg community. We are in the process of contacting the principal of Galesburg High School, and hope to hold a showing for those students sometime before the end of term,” said Jones.
“The people of Galesburg are so willing to help, it is very encouraging. We hope to continue this success through the end of this year, and throughout the coming years.”
Upcoming IC Events include a party-for-a-cause at the Sigma Chi house, a change war between the classes (April 28 – May 2), and a Galesburg community showing of the documentary either the second or third week of May. The proceeds from the community showing will go towards Layibi School in Uganda. All of the proceeds from the Harambee car wash held on April 19 also were donated to IC.
“I’d just really like to encourage students at Knox to become involved. We have 10 to 12 people that regularly show up to meetings and help out with our various events, and I would love to see that number double over the next year,” said Jones.
Anyone interested in becoming involved with Invisible Children should contact president Melinda Jones at email@example.com or attend a Wednesday meeting at 7 p.m. in the Alumni Room of Old Main.
“Although there are still some children being abducted, the numbers have dropped considerably over the past year as the country works toward peace. Hopefully, one day these children can live without any fear of being taken from their homes to fight in a war they have no interest in,” said Jones.