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Together We Are Free

By now every single person on Bloomsburg University’s campus should know what the Invisible Children organization is, or, at the very least, heard of it. If you haven’t, you are missing out on one of the most important movements in our nation’s history. Invisible Children was started back in 2001 by three California students; Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey.

Their mission was to travel to Uganda, Africa in hopes of filming a documentary on the AIDS epidemic. Little did they know, they would come across Africa’s longest and most brutal running war in history. This war between Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GoU) has been going on for 24 years. For most of us, that is our entire lives. Many people living in Uganda do not even understand how to live a life without war. The LRA leader, Joseph Kony, has abducted over 60,000 children, forcing them to be child soldiers.

“Invisible Children: Rough Cut” was the first documentary released by Russel, Poole, and Bailey, which displays the horrific conditions that the people of Uganda live in. Everyday they live in fear of Joseph Kony and the LRA. This film is a chilling insight on the war in Uganda.

For the majority of this war it was ignored by the rest of the world. It was not until this documentary was shown worldwide that it would even make news headlines on CNN or BBC. Still today, the war in Uganda sits around number 200 on the list of U.S. priorities.

The Invisible Children organization knew they had to do more. So on April 25, 2009 they would hold their biggest event yet called “The Rescue.” This event would involve 100 cities world wide in which people would abduct themselves, just like the children of Uganda are being abducted. These participants would wait in the mock LRA camps until media and moguls arrived to rescue them. Media, because they decide on what stories in the world are worth telling, and moguls because they compete for media attention. Those two factors would make the world more aware of this on going war.

Some cities were rescued right away, while it took others a few days, but one city, Chicago, waited six days. Still hundreds of people waited to be rescued by media and moguls. The children of Uganda cannot leave the camps until they are rescued, so neither did they.

Photo courtesy Justin McDonald

The film, “Together We Are Free,” showcases the whole process of planning and executing “The Rescue.”  On Feb. 22nd this film was shown on campus. Two roadies, Natalie Warne and Bert Ng, represented Invisible Children and spoke with students after the screening. You cannot help but get chills when watching both the “Rough Cut” and “Together We Are Free.”

Bert Ng and Natalie Warne, Invisible Children Roadies Photo courtesy Justin McDonald

While sitting and watching the brave efforts of the Invisible Children organization, the room was somber with many people crying. The film shows the dedication of thousands of people who take a stand for what they believe in. “Demand the change, don’t just speak on it,” said Warne. Warne got the chance to intern with Invisible Children and was one of the most important people during “The Rescue.” The film is something everyone should see and share with friends.

Bloomsburg University had the honor of being the first stop on the Invisible Children’s tenth tour, the “Legacy Tour.” Both Warne and Ng encouraged students to get involved, whether it is donating money or simply spreading the word about Invisible Children.

See the video that introduces the next phase to this movement: Introducing the Legacy Tour

The easiest way to get involved is to sign up for TRI. TRI is a program where each week, you donate three dollars to help the children in Uganda. “Three dollars a week is giving up a Starbucks coffee or a 711 hotdog,” said Ng, “it is a really simple way to give up a little in order to contribute to a greater whole.” Once the child soldiers return home, TRI ends.

You can also give back by purchasing a film, bracelet, t-shirt, bag and many more items. Many of the items are made in Uganda by the people who are directly affected by the war.

Go to www.invisiblechildren.com to find out more about Invisible Children and how you can help the movement.

If you would like to get involved with Amnesty International, the on campus organization which hosted the Invisible Children screening, contact Rachel Knight (rak32098@huskies.bloomu.edu) for more information.