Organized for Invisible Children

Invisible Children

Invisible Children

By: Kristin Guthrie; Photo by Cassie Brooks
Being invisible is not usually something to brag about, unless of course you are a member of Western Kentucky University’s chapter of Invisible Children. In this case, it is something to be worn as a badge of honor. In this organization, being invisible is a way of life, or at least in the lives of the thousands of children they are trying to protect.The WKU chapter is part of a national group of Invisible Children which works to raise awareness of and, ultimately, end the war and destruction going on in Uganda, Africa.

In 2003, three aspiring filmmakers decided to leave their comfortable lives behind and travel to Africa in search of an untold story. What they found when they got there was a tale of unimaginable horror; death as a way of life, children being made into weapons and no way to ease the pain besides a video camera and some kind words. They traveled back to the United States changed by what they had seen and created a documentary to show the world the atrocities that were being committed. Thus, Invisible Children, Inc was born.
“Our organization is trying to help the kids there whose families and lives have been torn apart by war.”

-Kate Mischel, Invisible Children Secretary

At the age when children in the United States are learning to ride their first bike, children in Uganda are being snatched up to fight in the Lord’s Resistance Army. This guerilla army is led by Joseph Kony, who uses violence and the capture of these children made into soldiers in hopes to overthrow the government in Uganda. When captured, many children are subjected to extreme violence and are at times forced to kill their own family and friends.

Currently, the war has moved away from Uganda, but the path of destruction left behind is still very real. Children have been left homeless and without schools. The WKU chapter of Invisible Children participates in the Schools for Schools program, which is a campaign to rebuild schools in Uganda, created by the national Invisible Children group. This program allows Invisible Children chapters to sponsor a school in Uganda that has been torn apart by years of war. With a challenge of raising money for these invisible children they have never met, WKU students hold a number of different fundraisers throughout the year.

One of the main fundraisers for their Schools for Schools campaign is a book sale where used books are sold with all profits being sent to the chapter’s sponsored school. This year the WKU chapter raised $400 to be donated to their school in Uganda. Another large activity that Invisible Children hosts is a campus viewing of the Invisible Children documentary. Every year the documentary is shown to WKU students describing what is taking place in Uganda. This documentary goes into depth about what is being done for the children in effected areas and asks students to take a stand in this fight to end the violence.

When it would be so simple to worry about the next paper to write or social function to attend, it is tempting to dismiss the hope that college students can find the motivation to fight for children a world away. It is far easier to volunteer for a cause with instant results, instant gratification; it takes a special group of people to fight for a cause others would dismiss as a lost battle. However, this dismissal does not come easy to Invisible Children President Paul Sanford, he knows something can be done, and he’s doing it.
Sanford and a few of his friends started the WKU chapter of Invisible Children from the ground up, with nothing but passion for serving others to guide them. Sanford heard about Invisible Children in an advertisment in the College Heights Herald, looked up the details, and was so touched by the cause that he knew he had to start a chapter at Western. Sanford says that he can sum up what Invisible Children is about in a few sentences, “We think globally but act locally. We believe that no people, especially innocent children, should have to endure the conditions that exist in northern Uganda and everywhere else the Lord’s Resistance Army has been.”

Sanford’s passion for Invisible Children directly ties to his major at WKU and his future plans. He says that he wants to work with children in some way for the rest of his life, so his major and plans for the future were a strong motivator for starting Invisible Children at WKU. While studying Social Work and Spanish with a minor in Child Studies, Invisible Children gives Sanford an outlet to help others while increasing his knowledge on subject areas that will benefit him after graduation.

“Causes that involve children, especially orphans, are what really motivate me. In the future, I see myself working with orphans or in the adoption or foster care system in some way, here and abroad.”

-Paul Sanford, Invisible Children President

How many of us can say that they have truly felt invisible? Invisible enough that our screams are not heard or tears not noticed? There are children in Uganda that feel this way. The WKU chapter of Invisible Children has made the commitment that they will be invisible no longer; that instead of constant fear, these children will find hope for a better future.

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Comments

  1. Patrick Cheptoek says:

    I even have no words to explain how thankful I am for this organisation (WKU invisible childrens chapter). I am a ugandan by nationality and I know what exactly is on ground in nothern Uganda. All I have say is that I thank God for listening to the prayers of the innocent kids abducted and used as child soldiers by rebel leader Joseph Kony and his group. Paul sanford, God bless you. The education this kids are getting will impact many generations to come.

    Patrick

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