Courtesy of INVISIBLE CHILDREN
Violence, gore, war — just another forgotten story on the six o’clock news.
But on Oct. 5, Invisible Children, “a movement seeking to end the conflict in Uganda and stop the abduction of children for use as child soldiers,” according to their website, sought to bring these issues to the forefront.
The speaking event and screening was hosted by the AU One World Initiative, an on-campus organization that is focuses on addressing ‘third world problems’ as local and global issues.
The group brought a special guest to Ward 1: Stella, a Ugandan refugee turned youth mentor and advocate.
Stella shared the story of her childhood in northern Uganda as one of 14 children, all of who were night commuters — children who fled their homes at night to sleep in the city in order to avoid kidnappers.
Stella avoided capture by acting as her recently-deceased aunt, wearing an old ragged garment and playing deaf and disabled.
“The rebels carried a padlocks, chains and rope,” Stella said. “This was a time where they would lock people’s lips with padlocks as if they were locks.”
Stella eventually was able to get an education and became a teacher, before becoming a mentor with Invisible Children back in Uganda. She now works with abducted girls who were lucky enough to escape but are traumatized and unsure where to turn.
To parallel Stella’s inspirational story, the Invisible Children Roadie Team (don’t think of your typical roadie — they are Invisible Children advocates who travel the world and spread their message about violence in Uganda) screened the organization’s newest film “Tony.”
The movie details the initial interaction between one of the co-founders of Invisible Children, Laren Poole, during his first trip to Uganda at 19-years-old, where he meets a boy named Tony.
The film essentially parallels the lives of Poole and Tony. Poole successfully helps to transform Invisible Children into a nationwide cause, while Tony deals with the death of his mother from AIDS, among other struggles.
The film also tells of the bond between Tony and his friend Nate, a roadie with Invisible Children. Even when the story takes a tragic turn, it never fails to exemplify the resilience of Tony or the true strength of Invisible Children as a whole.
Additionally, the film points out the recent passing of U.S. legislation to provide monetary assistance to try to capture Joseph Kony, the warlord and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the rebel group causing chaos throughout northeastern Africa.
The film focuses on Tony’s life in Uganda and then his life in the United States while touring the country with Invisible Children. It also brings up the founding of the Invisible Children Education Program and its Legacy Scholarship Program, which helps children in northern Uganda go to school and stay on a straight path with the help of a personal mentor, like Stella.
She has two daughters at home in Uganda, and although she said that it was difficult to be away from them for so long, her mission is clear: to help the children of Uganda.
“I’m here so that those children do not go through what I went through,” she said.