Promotional Image From The Invisible Children Rescue Uganda Campaign

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Invisible Children is more than a volunteer organization: it’s a movement. The longest running conflict the African continent has ever known is happening now, led by one man named Joseph Kony. Invisible Children works to publicize the conflict while organizing support, maintaining education programs in the region, and establishing economic initiatives to rebuild. Their focus is on restoring a sense of normalcy while providing opportunities for people who have been solely focused on survival for a very long time. Understandably, this is a difficult mission in a place with such a complex social and political history.

In 1986 when Yoweri Museveni became the president of Uganda, Alice Lakwena, a northern Ugandan, started the Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) in opposition. When she was exiled to Kenya, the organization was left without a leader. Joseph Kony took control, changing the name of the group to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Kony was more concerned with building an army and promoting violence than he was with the original mission of the group: to end oppression in Uganda.

Joseph Kony, Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda

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Kony began abducting children to fill the ranks of his army. He manipulated the children, forcing them kill their own parents or to become sex slaves for his officers. In order to avoid abduction, children began to leave their villages at night to sleep in churches or bus depots, anywhere they could hide. Families were terror-stricken. In 1996 the Ugandan government, in an attempt to “protect” people from the LRA, created large camps where violence and disease ran rampant. Eventually, as the Ugandan government attempted peace talks with the LRA, the organization left Uganda, settling in Congo. They continue to attack the border regions of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan.

A Child Soldier in Uganda, Member of the LRA

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Invisible Children utilizes volunteers through a variety of campaigns. Their teacher exchange program brings professional development opportunities to Ugandan teachers while their Schools for Schools program involves American school children in volunteer fund-raising projects to support schools in Uganda.

One of the things that strikes me about this aid organization is the bravery their volunteers and employees must bring to their jobs every day. Working in a war-torn area caries a wide variety of challenges that aren’t present in peaceful times. For many of the people Invisible Children works with, violence is so familiar and so fresh. It is still an ever-present threat.

Five Ugandan Children in the Documentary Film by Invisible Children Detailing the Saga of the LRA Occupation

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In a place that has been so long savaged by the most extreme brutality, one of the most important goals of humanitarian aid is restoring a sense of humanity while treating psychologically disturbed children and families. Invisible Children focuses on creating opportunities for people who have spent their entire lives fighting to live.

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