Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Invisible Children

In 2003, after the War in Iraq had started and President Bush warned about traveling oversees, three college students flew to Kenya to film a documentary in the Sudan. Their intention is to discover what exactly has happened in the Sudan, and how it has affected the people. When they land in Nairobi Kenya, however, their plans change.
The three college students seemed like typical young Americans. They travel to Africa to record what they find, so the can share just “how bad it is” with the western world from which they came. Their travel experience is limited, and when they depart form the airports, their moms are very emotional. This emotion, however, is nothing compared to what they will soon experience.
Upon their arrival in Nairobi, Kenya, they meet Mama Sapora. She runs an orphanage of over 100 children who are homeless, mostly because of the AIDS epidemic. The situation in the orphanage is desperate; the children only eat once a day and they sleep four to a bed. Despite these conditions, the children seem to be happy, and Mama Sapora shows us their favorite activity, dancing. To them, dancing is a joyous activity that brings hope and happiness to their lives. These children, however, have it much better than those who the three college students soon discover.
Leaving Kenya, they travel to Sudan where they plan on discovery the tragic scenes of war. However, the Sudan is practically empty, because all of the refugees have fled from the warlords. To find the people, the college students travel to Uganda, where the majority of the Sudanese refugees live. Upon their arrival, they meet a women named Jolly Okot. She tells them that they must drive into the city to find their story, and that it is dangerous to stay in the bush, where the LRA (The group trying to overthrow the Ugandan government). Soon we see why Jolly Okot is right.
The college students drive into the city, Gulu, and quickly find their story. Thousands of children are sleeping in the city, under verandas and in the bus depot. They have no parents, no clothes, no food. Their story is absolutely tragic. They live in fear of being abducted by the LRA, who needs to fill the ranks of their army with young children who they can brainwash into ruthless killers. If the children stay in the towns, the LRA will come at night and take them, so that is why they stay in the city.
The children live in a constant state of fear. They will not cry, because then a LRA soldier might kill them for expressing emotion. If they were to stay in their towns, far out in the bush, then they would surely be abducted, and either killed, raped, or if fortunate brainwashed into the army. In the army, they witness killing and butchering that psychologically makes them killers.
This documentary shows the tragic lives that these children must endure. Although they are in high spirits, a moment in the documentary shows us the impact that this tragedy has created. While interviewing a young boy, who before told us he would never cry, he begins to talk about one day meeting his dead brother in heaven, and suddenly the emotion he has held back so well finally gushes forward. At this point in the documentary, The audience cries too, knowing that the hardships these children endure are senseless and that something must be done.
This documentary, although sad and tragic, is powerful. Before watching this, I had no idea of these living conditions. It is sad that western society ignores tragedies such as this, but at the same time, we now see that something must be done. Not only talking about it, but analyzing and sharing thoughts will help our society do something to help their society. Above all, we must not forget what is happening in Africa, and we must take action.

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