Invisible Children: Discover the Unseen
Documentary shown on 11/11/08 in the Reading Room
Filmed in 2003 by three Southern California students, Invisible Children is a documentary about the struggles facing the children of northern Uganda. The three filmmakers originally set out into the Sadan to find a story they could present to their family and friends back home but what they found were hundreds of thousands of both adults and children living in fear of the rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Known for their unjustified brutality and complete lack of mercy, the LRA has waged a 23 yearlong war against the government of Uganda that began with an image a woman named Alice Lakwena claimed to have received from the Holy Spirit telling her to overthrow the government. What began as a religious movement began to turn violent as the tension between what was then known as the Holy Spirit Movement and the government began to rise. All hell broke loose after Lakwena was exiled and the movement was left leaderless. Taking control of the movement, Lakwena “cousin,” Joeseph Kony took control and turned Lakwena’s small army into the violent LRA. This transformation cost Kony many of the original movement’s followers do to the new extremist views being pushed forward, forcing Kony and his remaining follows to turn to the abduction of children to fill the army ranks. It is this fear of abduction and the horror that follows that has most of Uganda’s children living in fear. It is believed that over 90% of the LRA’s troops were abducted as children and subjected to the severe denaturing and desensitizing practices of the army. Those who are abducted are trained to kill at a young age and are severely beaten. Those who are lucky to survive the daily raids of the various towns and villages are never the same again in the hands of the LRA. These children, whose ages range from 5 – 12, are brought face to face with death and violence and are practically brainwashed into doing the LRA’s bidding. A lady interviewed in the documentary quoted one of the LRA child troopers saying, “Look, I have headache if I don’t see blood.” While the adults of the country pressure the US government to put more pressure on the government of Uganda to take action, the children praise God just for getting them through the day and safely into one of the shelters in the larger towns to keep them safe. Living in constant fear of Joseph (as Kony is called) and forced to leave their homes to seek safety, the children still find ways to embrace not only their youth but life as well. They remain resilient to the LRA and the impoverish conditions they live in, and continue to laugh, play and dance despite fear that weighs heavy on their hearts. Those many children who have left their families to seek shelter in the various damp basements of buildings in town have found new families amongst one another. They make the best of their situation and remain patient as they wait for the government to open their eyes to these suffering children who have been overlooked and have become almost invisible.
Though dealing with two very separate situations, both the documentary and Stephanie Shapiro’s article “Serving Up Hope,” convey the same message: one of hope.
For both the children of Uganda and the drug addicts and convicts taken in by Galen Sampson, it is the hope for a brighter and better future that pushes life forward. Those employed by the Dogwood Deli are given a second chance to live just lives, while the children sit and wait for their first at living lives without fear. For both groups staying positive is the first step. It is this hope that drives life forward and can potentially brighten the present but outside help is also needed which is were we are given the opportunity to step up and help make a difference. We can no longer stand idly by waiting for things to simply work themselves out. In the same way that Sampson stepped up to help out those in need in Hampden, we must also do to help the children in need in Uganda. The opportunity is there; it is only waiting for us to answer its call.
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