Imagine being 12
years old and alone, sleeping at night in tunnels with no food,
light, water, or any comforts of home. Imagine hearing gunshots
at night, not knowing if one of them will find you. Imagine
being forced into an army to kill others. For thousands of
children in Uganda, this is life, not imagination.
The Lord’s Resistant Army (LRA) is a rebel army that has
been accused of raping, murdering, torturing, maiming, and abducting
children to turn them into soldiers, according to the Invisible
Children Web site.
Joseph Kony, who claims that he simply wants Uganda to be a Christian
nation, currently leads the LRA. Under Kony, the LRA has kidnapped
about 200,000 children to use as child soldiers or sex slaves.
The first step in transforming these children into hardened soldiers
is forcing them to kill their own parents so they will be unable
to return to home.
The world began to learn about this in 2003 when Jason Russell,
Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole went to Uganda. They filmed LRA
abusing children, and interviewed children who had escaped and
others who were in hiding. When they returned to the U.S, they
formed the Invisible Children organization to help spread awareness
of the children’s plight.
They showed their documentary across the United States, and created
the Invisible Children Web site where people could donate money
and other items. They also made it possible for high schools
and universities to create their own branches of Invisible Children
to further spread awareness.
HPU’s chapter, the only chapter in Hawai‘i, was started three years
ago, and it regularly sponsors events to raise awareness across campus and throughout
I was very disturbed,” said Chelsea Christensen, “seeing these children
and what they have to go through and no one can save them.” Christensen
is a sophomore nursing student, who was shown the documentary in her anthropology
One of the organized events was the annual sleep out at the State Capitol on
April 3. This was the fourth year that HPU students participated in the sleep
over, and more than 100 students and faculty have participated each year.
The sleep out is meant to recreate the conditions under which people currently
live in Uganda and other African countries, where an estimated one million people
live in Internally Displaced Persons camps. Some have been living there for nearly
10 years and most of their former lives are now gone, according to the Invisible
Children Web site.
The sleep out was held at the State Capitol building late on a Friday evening
because statelaw makers are working late and therefore able to see the people
sleeping outside. Sometimes the legislators will come, talk, and join the volunteers,
which helps further pass on the group’s mission to bring the plight of
invisible children to the public’s attention.
The sleep-out is intended also to support legislative passage of a resolution
concerning the situation. This year’s resolution is based on the fact that
the LRA is now going into villages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and
Sudan massacring villagers.
The resolution will condemn using child soldiers, abducting children, and terrorizing
innocent people,” said Chelsea Travis, a senior social work/social science
major and president of the Invisible Children Hawai‘i HPU chapter.
The sleep out also included a candlelight vigil held to honor those currently
suffering in these conditions, entertainment, guest speakers, films about the
history of Uganda and the current war, and breakfast was served in the morning.
In addition, volunteers took turns walking a peace flag around the capitol building
all night long.
If sleeping outside is not for you, there are other ways to get involved and
help support Invisible Children. Visit www.invisiblechildren.com or e-mail Travis