On Aug. 4 â€“ 7, 2011, 650 students across the world gathered in San Diego, Calif. at a conference called the Fourth Estate, presented by Invisible Children.
It was here that these students were trained in leadership and activism by people like Jason Russel and Laren Poole (who started Invisible Children), John Prendergast (a human rights activist) and Carl Wilkins (the only American to stay in Rwanda during the genocide).
For four days, we were educated about the problems going on in Uganda with the LRA and different ways of approaching the situations. Currently, Africaâ€™s longest running war is happening in Northern Uganda and spreading to the surrounding areas.
It is here that the LRA (Lords Resistance Army) breaks into schools and abducts children from the ages of five to 12 to be put into their armies and forced to kill 20 to 40 people a day.
The numbers of abduction, death, war crimes and rape increase daily and are unnoticed by most of the world. Until now!
Invisible Children put together the Fourth Estate to bring together activists from all over the world to be educated on effective ways of helping in developing countries. Most importantly, we were taught that we have more power than we could ever imagine.
To prove this we talked about other activists our age and the differences they made. Mother Teresa was only 19 when she moved to Calcutta. Thomas Clarkson was 25 when he started the movement to end the slave trade in England. And Laren Poole was only 19 when he went to Uganda for the first time and heard about these children.
Now, it is our turn to be the change we wish to see. That starts with ending Africaâ€™s longest running war and rescuing child soldiers that are our age or younger and allowing them a chance at life. This sounds like the impossible, but to be honest, we love the impossible, and we have a plan.
â€œChange 4 Change,â€ â€œRadio For Radioâ€™s,â€ and the â€œLRA Crisis Trackerâ€: these three projects are the beginning to the end of this war. â€œChange 4 Changeâ€ is a project that Invisible Children has been doing for years and is now being started in Fort Collins as well.
Jars at local businesses will be put out for people to throw away their extra change â€“â€“ a cause that really will change lives. â€œRadio For Radiosâ€ is a new project that involves getting more radio towers to Uganda for two reasons.
The first is providing a radio channel in northern Uganda that allows communities to report when the LRA is near and to warn surrounding areas of their whereabouts to better protect all of the communities. All of this information is then sent to San Diego where it is uploaded to the â€œLRA Crisis Trackerâ€ so that anyone in the world can keep up with whatâ€™s going on.
The second use for the radio towers is to actually talk to soldiers in the LRA by using former LRA soldiers to report on the safety of coming back home and receiving full amnesty. Along with the radios, there are information cards literally hung in the jungle to show a step-by-step guide of escaping the LRA coming.
Nine soldiers have already come home because of these programs and are now recovering in rehabilitation programs.
Katie Hutt is a junior art major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.