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Youth movement pushes for peace in Uganda

Ode Magazine has a great story about three young filmmakers who made a documentary about the thousands of children abducted and enslaved by a Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The film, Invisible Children, led to the founding of an organization by the same name, which has gone on to raise some $30 million to help survivors and inspire a movement that has successfully pressured Congress to pass legislation giving President Obama authority to put an end to the LRA’s atrocities.

What’s most impressive, as the Ode piece points out, is how much support, both financially and physically has come from young people here in the States. Some 80 percent of the $30 million collected by Invisible Children came from high school students. And back in 2006, 80,000 young people took part in a 126-city country-wide direct action by lying down and sleeping in the streets in order to call attention to the nightly trek of so many Ugandan children.

The founders of Invisible Children are not so surprised at their ability to get young Americans involved in a battle for social justice in Africa. “I think everyone wants to be swept up by an adventure, a story that gives life a meaning or purpose,” says [Jason] Russell. Surprising or not, it is miraculous. After all, so many things compete for young people’s time and attention that good causes seldom win out.

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They attribute the success of Invisible Children—which works closely with organizations like Resolve Uganda and The Enough Project—to a healthy dose of naïveté. If the friends had known that Congress had passed only 3 percent of all the bills presented over the last six years, they probably would have given up before they started. “We don’t want to be ignorant,” Poole says, his eyes shining, “but there’s definitely bliss in it.”

The whole 52-minute film can be watched online at Google Video.