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« Music Review: Richard Bona The Coming of Age of a Music Maestro | Main | Can a Story Change the World?: "Invisible Children: Rough Cut " »

April 28, 2006


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I can bet my last dollar that there will be no African or Ugandan for that matter at any of these rallies. We love others to do our dirty jobs for us...

Edith Edong

The guys of Invincible Children who are organizing the Global Commute were on the Oprah Show yesterday (april 17). http://www.oprah.com/tows/slide/200604/20060426/slide_20060426_284_106.jhtml

Over 50,000 people had already signed on for tomorrow's event before the Oprah show appearance. We can be sure that the number has doubled now with all white suburban mums joining the crusade - and the journey began with a bunch of idealistic kids driving around the country in the beat-up RV. This is definitely a lesson for African groups militating for a variety of courses from the Diaspora...

BTW Emeka, I will be attending the event in San Jose tomorrow -- and I am Cameroonian.


GNC Houston will take place at Rice University. Get there around 7 p.m. and park in the lot at University and Stockton. The walk will take place on streets around the Rice campus and will end at the Rice intramural fields, where commuters will lay down to show support for the cause. Be sure to bring a sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight, a picture of yourself, pens/markers, a snack and water. To be a part of GNC Houston, sign up online at invisiblechildren.com, and visit GNC Houston's MySpace page for more specific info.
Jim Parsons


Forget the Pragmatic

When I see protests, rallies, or marches on television - whether than be anti-war, anti-abortion, pro-choice, pro-school, anti-Bush, pro-legalization of marijuana - I often wonder if they have any impact at all. Is it simply throwing noise at an issue, or does it truly impact change? Do public displays of protest drive awareness or shed light? Do they move the people that observe them or do they simply exist as an avenue for those participating to express their passionate voices?

And while I still don't have answers to any of these questions, a persistant and nagging voice (or perhaps the still-fresh images of children's faces in Uganda and Sudan that I have etched in my mind) is calling me out onto the city streets of Portland this weekend, to stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Africa.

Tomorrow night, I'm grabbing my sleeping bag and heading to Pioneer Square to camp out with upwards of a thousand other Portlanders in an effort to expose the stories of children in Northern Uganda, who today, are being kidnapped from their homes by a rebel group called the “Lord’s Resistance Army” (LRA). Young boys are trained into vicious fighters, young girls become sex slaves. Each child living in fear, and maturing in an environment where all they know is violence and brutality. These children are called“Night Commuters” - moving in the dark of night out of their villages in hopes of escaping abduction by the LRA. They sleep in public places, vulnerable, and without supervision. The national event is called "Global Night Commute" and its organized by Invisible Children.

The pragmatic part of me thinks, "what good will it do to these forgotten children if I simply sleep on the concrete?" My heart, my passion, and my conviction tears up and says, "but who else will tell these children's stories?" And my hope and prayer is that my voice there will add to a growing multitude of people who are unwilling to sit silently while there are children in deperate situations. My hope is that people watching the news coverage of the event will be outraged and will take action.

I'll let you know if I come to any conclusions about public protests in the meantime.


Karin - demonstrations work by a steady drip drip effect. They are also a preamble to the more powerful engagement of civil disobedience. The other face of it is that protest is always superior to sitting at home watching things on TV even if there were no overt or immediate benefit to the protest. It is always better to do something than to surrender in despair to powerful forces.


chicagotribune.com >>

Grant Park rally aims to aid Ugandan kids

By Lolly Bowean, Tribune staff reporter. Tribune staff reporter David Wischnowsky contributed to this report

Published April 30, 2006

Jacob Acaye once walked for miles just to sleep outdoors in a gated cage. Surrounded by other northern Ugandan children, he stayed in a safehouse to avoid being captured by a violent rebel army.

On Saturday night, Acaye, 17, was outdoors again, this time surrounded by Chicagoans in Grant Park, in hopes of drawing attention to a cause most people are unaware of.

"I'm here to represent the children of Uganda," Acaye said Saturday afternoon. "This will help us. We need the help of the United States."

By 8:30 p.m., about 2,000 people had gathered at Grant Park under a light drizzle for a peaceful demonstration. They wanted to urge the U.S. to intervene in Uganda, where soldiers with the Lord's Resistance Army have been accused of abducting, enslaving and brainwashing about 20,000 children.

The Chicago demonstration was one of 130 similar events scheduled around the nation.

The effort was organized by Invisible Children Inc., a group founded by three filmmakers who traveled to Africa and learned about the Ugandan children's fate. Acaye was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army in 2002 and forced to become a fighter. He escaped, but not before he and other children were forced to brutalize other people and fight each other.

Invisible Children Inc. helped him attend a boarding school and paid for him to travel to the U.S. to attend Saturday night's event in Chicago.

The demonstration allowed people to experience part of what children of Uganda go through by sleeping outside, despite the rain and cold, said Jason Russell, one of the organization's founders. The event also can make public officials aware of the number of people who want the U.S. to bring peace to the war-stricken region, he said.

"This is an easy conflict to end," he said. "It could end in a week or a month if we take action. During the Rwandan crisis, people said they didn't know. During the Holocaust, we said we didn't know. Now we know, and we have to do something."

The Lord's Resistance Army, a group of rebels trying to overthrow the government in Uganda, also is accused of forcing children to engage in murders, rapes and kidnappings.


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Orlando Sentinnel - April 30, 2006

Outdoors all night to show kids' plight

Claudia Zequeira | Sentinel Staff Writer

In the past 20 years, about 30,000 children have been kidnapped in fighting in Uganda.

Rahua Yhdego walked nine miles to make to make her voice heard.

Saturday, she was one of roughly 800 people who gathered in Orlando's Trotters Park for a sleepover to publicize the plight of kidnapped and displaced Ugandan children, victims of a 20-year civil war that has claimed thousands of lives and left more than a million people homeless.

"I wanted to raise awareness about what's going on in Uganda," said Yhdego, a 23-year-old student from the University of Central Florida. "If every person listened to the humanitarian voice inside them, they could definitely make an impact on the other side of the globe."

The Global Night Commute, as the event was called, was organized by Invisible Children Inc. and several local volunteers. Created in 2004, the California-based nonprofit was created by filmmakers Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole after the release of their documentary Invisible Children: Rough Cut.

The film gives a heart-wrenching account of the lives of children in northern Uganda, an estimated 30,000 of whom have been kidnapped to work as soldiers or sex slaves by the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group fighting the government since 1986.

To avoid kidnapping, about 40,000 children, known as "night commuters," flee their countryside homes each night for the relative safety of towns, walking for miles to reach their destination, according to Human Rights Watch.

Many of those present Saturday, who trekked to the park in an effort to emulate Ugandan children, said they drew inspiration to attend from the film, screened aggressively by volunteers at high schools, college campuses, churches and nongovernmental organizations across the United States during the past three months.

"This is my first political event," said Justin Miniardi, a 17-year-old Edgewater High School student who saw the film for the first time Friday. "I just couldn't believe stuff like this happens. Home is supposed to be safe, not a place you could be taken from," he said as he clutched a sleeping bag.

Armed with blankets, pillows and art supplies, attendees created artwork and wrote letters to President Bush and other officials asking them to assist Ugandans through humanitarian aid and diplomacy.

"We can pressure our leaders to get involved," said Brandon Lowe, who attended with about 30 friends and acquaintances and who helped publicize the event through myspace.com. "Politicians often react to their constituents."

Bemba Kaye, who was born in Uganda and drove to the park from Clermont with his wife and three children, said a lack of political will, both in Uganda and the United States, is precisely the reason the armed conflict has lasted this long.

"I'm from Kampala [the capital]; I can tell you even in Uganda people are immune to this situation," said Kaye, who has lived in the Orlando area since 1983. "But America needs to know there's a genocide happening there."

Orlando was one of more than 130 American cities to participate Saturday in Global Night Commute events, Invisible Children spokeswoman Carolyn Sams said.

"What we want to say is you can get involved in ending a war," Sams said. "People ask us 'Are you going to do this again?' And our answer is, 'We hope not.' Our hope is this war will end."


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