Patrick McPartland/Staff Photographer - Adonga Quinto, from Uganda speaks to students at Bishop Timon / St. Jude High School as part of Invisible Children, a youth movement working to empower and educate students in the areas of international social justice. Along with Quinto is Invisible Children volunteer Erin Miller.
The realities of tyranny were introduced to the students of Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School as volunteers from the Invisible Children Youth Movement detailed the atrocities taking place in Uganda.
For the past 26 years, a warlord named Joseph Kony has led a band of guerilla troops known as the Lord’s Resistance Army in a violent campaign across Uganda, kidnapping children and training them to kill their own families.
“He is considered a warlord,” said Erin Miller, one of the Invisible Children “roadies” who spoke at the South Buffalo high school. “He has no political affiliation, no religious affiliation. He is purely on his own. He doesn’t have any support. It is a unique situation to have something like this. He doesn’t have any legitimacy. There is no group that funds him. He’s solely operating on his own and he’s doing it for his own survival.”
Invisible Children claim most governments ignore Kony, as it is not in their economic interest to stop him. The goal of Invisible Children is to alert governments by shining a light on Kony’s actions, hopefully leading to his arrest and trial by the International Criminal Court. This would set an example for dictators and others who try to follow in Kony’s footprints.
“We’re trying to make him known. If this was happening in the U.S., people would know about it right away. But, because it is happening in Central Africa nobody hears about it,” said Miller. “We want to make him an example for the world. We want everyone to know what he’s doing, why it’s not OK and why he needs to be stopped.”
Invisible Children, a 9-year-old non-profit organization, began when its founders, three filmmakers, traveled to Africa in search of a story. Currently, street teams of volunteers visit schools to inform the young population.
Students watch “Rough Cut,” a film produced by the founders that tells the story of Jacob, a young boy forced to join the LRA. The Timon audience also heard from Adolga Quinto, a young man from Uganda, who was abducted and held prisoner in Kony’s camp for two days before escaping.
“Joseph Kony is a killer,” he said. “He is one of the world’s worst criminals.”
Miller and Quinto encouraged the students to notify their government representatives that they want to see an end to Kony’s reign by the end of 2012.
“We know that if you guys reach out to them and we get as many people reaching out to their own representatives, then they will take a stand on this and continue to support this issue,” Miller said to the students.
Tom Joyce, a teacher at Timon and board member for a local teachers’ organization called Buffalo for Africa, feels the presentation and cause fits in well with the Timon curriculum.
“Timon curriculum is based on Franciscanism which is rooted in the belief that all men are brothers, all men are responsible for each other; it is the least of our human family that needs most of our attention. I think this ties directly in with that,” he said.
Invisible Children has drawn much controversy lately. The non-profit organization has been accused of manipulating facts and using only a fraction of donations to aid people in Africa. Co-founder Jason Russell was detained by San Diego police in March after allegedly running naked down the street and yelling incoherently. A statement from Invisible Children’s CEO cited exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition as the cause.
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