In 2003, three young filmmakers (Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole) went to Africa intending to make a film on Darfur. They weren’t allowed into the Sudan so they went next door to Uganda and ended up making the film that would become a pivotal instrument of change for the abducted child soldiers and traumatized child survivors of terror in Uganda. (Watch the trailer below)
Invisible Children: Rough Cut is 52 minutes of harrowing stories about children who have been helpless pawns in the Lord’s Resistance Army’s endless battle against the Ugandan government. Over 5 million people watched this documentary that is so unimaginably heartbreaking, it inspired a powerful movement that uses film, creativity and social activism to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s LRA army; advocate on behalf of the impoverished living in conflict regions; and work with the people of Northern Uganda to improve lives, education and possibilities.
Invisible Children, the non-profit, began with a bunch of vans, manned by young volunteers who were willing to take 3-4 months out of their lives to drive around America screening the movie for schools, colleges, and churches. These screenings generated such a huge response and desire to help, the Schools for Schools program was born, challenging students to compete to raise money to fund scholarships and rebuild schools in war-torn areas for Ugandan children. And fundraise these impassioned students did – it’s now in its 11th tour, through all 50 states and on three continents — raising $1.4 million annually!
11 partner schools in Uganda are filled today with 800 students on IC scholarships, (and 70 students in college). But the vision doesn’t stop there. Since there has been peace in Northern Uganda for three years, Invisible Children, led by a staff in Uganda that is 95% Ugandan, is creating a development strategy for the future based on what the Ugandan people want and need. Some of these initiatives include establishing small village savings and loans that can provide microloans to the community; reinvesting in farmers growing cotton; the resettlement of 1.4 million displaced persons from the camps; and always, education to prepare children to lead their country into a brighter future.
Decidedly not quiet on the Western front, Invisible Children continues to be a loud voice of advocacy for the victims of Africa’s longest war –staging dramatic events with young people holding long vigils outside Congressional offices to lobby for an international effort to arrest Joseph Kony and rescue the child soldiers; thousands sleeping-out in 100 cities around the world to demand “The Rescue”; and mounting the provocative “How It Ends” campaign — the largest lobbying event ever held on an African issue.
Creative, compelling and committed, Invisible Children is taking its unique ability to touch and motivate people– and putting it to work to create real change for people for whom peace and prosperity is a long-forgotten dream. Let’s make it real. To donate click here
Invisible Children is a Four-Star Charity Navigator organization.