On Thursday, Nov. 2, Moorestown Friends School (MFS) hosted representatives from the Invisible Children organization. Invisible Children, founded in 2005 as a charitable organization, uses film, creativity and social action to attempt to end the use of child soldiers in Ugandan Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore communities affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa to peace and prosperity.
Volunteers or “roadies” visited MFS where they screened a film about the founding of Invisible Children, the specific work they undertake in central Africa and the challenges still faced today. The film specifically focused on one of the “night commuters” — children who were forced to leave their villages for the city at night in order to avoid abduction by the LRA.
Afterwards, one of the “roadies,” Brenda, a Ugandan woman, who at home serves as a mentor for 28 girls by helping them develop leadership and life skills, addressed the Upper School students. She told her story of living in fear of the LRA and how this war has devastated many families and communities in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She was joined by volunteers Tim Fleming and Carlos Adan from Invisible Children. The volunteers spent time throughout the day in individual classrooms fielding questions and answers and participating in discussions.
Invisible Children is currently promoting its “Protection Plan” which has five goals: protect communities by providing radio towers that can provide early warnings to villages of LRA activity; encourage LRA defection; provide rehabilitation and family reunification; stimulate post-conflict recovery; and promote the arrest of Joseph Kony and top LRA leadership.
The visit by Invisible Children was a result of the efforts of Moorestown junior Nate Riggins who became involved in the issue after studying about child soldiers in the course Exploring International Humanitarian Law last year. The course was created by the International Red Cross and is taught at MFS by Chester Reagan Chair for Quaker and Religious Studies Priscilla Taylor-Williams.
“I was doing research for a report on the use of child soldiers in Africa and came across the Invisible Children website, and was on there for a great deal of time reading about their programs and watching videos. I decided to order one of the videos, and when I watched it, it really moved me,” Riggins said. “I was amazed I had never heard of the war before that day, and how many things these kids have to go without that we in America use everyday. I decided to get involved with Invisible Children, and found out I could have a team of Invisible Children ‘roadies’ come to my school and show the video that had inspired me so much and talk to the students about what is happening in central Africa.”
Thanks in large part to the efforts of Riggins, who is a member of the Upper School Service Committee, students quickly embraced the Invisible Children cause. Upper School students raised nearly $1,000 from a recent dance to go toward Invisible Children. Middle School students also raised $624 from their annual Service Fair to go toward Invisible Children.
“It’s very exciting to see the spirit of activism that has been generated toward Invisible Children,” said Taylor-Williams. “It’s a wonderful organization that is doing a great job of educating people about the social injustices taking place in central Africa. Our kids want to do something about this and that’s great to see and hear. Yesterday’s visit really energized our student body about a cause that is very important.”