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For more than 26 years in Northern Africa, parents have lived in fear and dread–not knowing if when they awaken their children would be safe in their beds.
And if they weren’t, chances are those children were suffering the same plight as more than 30,000 other African children–kidnapped from their homes, often their beds, and forced to become soldiers in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Two weeks ago, workers, or Roadies, from Invisible Children, an international organization whose sole purpose is to bring awareness of the LRA to the world, visited Williston High School.
Miss Williston, Makayla Baker, competed for her title using the organization as her platform. It was through her efforts that WHS students were educated on a world that cannot compare to theirs.
The actions of Kony, 51, are brutal. According to Invisible Children’s website: “He often forced children to kill their parents or siblings with machetes or blunt tools. He abducted girls to be sex slaves for his officers. He brainwashed and indoctrinated the children with his lies and manipulated them with his claim of spiritual powers.”
The Ugandan government, unable to take Kony down, began moving its citizens from their villages to the cities to avoid Kony’s nightime raids. Soon, though thousands of people were displaced, families were ripped asunder and the ever-growing threat of Kony and his forces were rampant.
In 2003, three California filmakers traveled to Africa where they had planned to document the war in Dafur.
Instead, their focus changed to the LRA. Soon they were making a documentary. The story about Kony and his abduction of children and the forced soliders received critical acclaim.
To date more than 9,000 screenings, like the one seen by WHS students, have taken place on high school and college campuses.
This past winter Kony 2012 was released in theaters. The documentary details Kony’s brutality against Uganda and its children. It promotes the “Stop Kony” movement and calls for the indicted war criminal to be arrested by December 2012.
At the end of the screening at WHS, Peace, a native Ugandan told students her story: fleeing from the north to the south to avoid Kony, returning later to find most of her friends either dead or in Kony’s custody.
“I lost most of the friends I grew up with,” she said.
The roadies told the student assembly that everyone can make a difference by becoming involved in the “Stop Kony” movement.
“We, the young people, have the power to change lives,” Peace said. “Age doesn’t matter. Don’t worry for tomorrow. Make history today. I made a difference.
They also encouraged the students to write letters to their legislators to support HR 583 that condemns Kony for his crimes against humanity and calls for increased U.S. participation to topple the LRA.