Invisible Children is an organization that was developed after a small group of filmmakers from southern California traveled to Africa looking for a story to tell.
These guys got more than they bargained for. They traveled to Uganda and started hearing stories about the “night commuters” – children who travel miles every night from their villages to the city in order to avoid capture and kidnapping by child soldier recruiters. In the cities, the kids could get support from relief agencies (food, shelter) and simultaneously avoid getting kidnapped in their village. Sleeping in doorways, on park benches and under porches, they were relatively safe. Each morning, many of the children would return to their villages to attend school or assist with family businesses.
In addition to the night commuters, the group also filmed the story of child soldiers in Uganda (see link to film – you can either buy it or attend a screening).
Raising awareness on night commuters and child soldier in Uganda was just the beginning. Since then, the group has expanded to include advocating, fund-raising, and has developed a couple of interesting programs for children of war in Uganda.
One program that caught my eye was a scholarship for children in Uganda, called the Visible Child Scholarship Program. A background:
…the program focuses on increased access to post-primary education, improved learning environments, and mentoring from local leaders… to date we have 662* scholarship students located throught the Gulu, Amuru, and Pader districts.
The breakdown of children:
• 40% of students are girls; 60% are boys
• 91% of students are orphans with 44.9% being partial orphans and 46.1% being total orphans
• 23.9% of students are orphans because of HIV/AIDS
• 23.9% of students are orphans due to war
• 5.5% of students are members of child-headed families
• 4.3% of students are child mothers
• 13.7% of students have been abducted by the LRA at least once