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Jupiter, FL (October 24, 2011) – For twenty-three years the northern region of Uganda has been racked with conflict and overwhelming violence, leading some to label the situation as the “most neglected humanitarian emergency in the world today.” This conflict has stemmed from the efforts of the Lord’s Resistance Army, headed by Joseph Kony, to overthrow the government of Uganda. In their attempts to rally an increasingly powerful military force, Kony’s army has made a standard practice of abducting young children, indoctrinating them into their ranks, and training them to kill. The conflict shows little sign of stopping, especially in light of Kony’s recent refusal to attend the Juba Peace Talks aimed at ending the war. Millions of African civilians have been forced into displacement camps as a result of the conflict, and casualties continue to be amassed in both armies.
            Meanwhile, an ocean away, students at Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College have mobilized to help end the war in Uganda once and for all. The Wilkes Honors College now supports an installment of the Invisible Children Movement on campus, and it is quickly gaining supporters among the student body. Invisible Children is best known for its production of extensive documentaries filmed in Uganda, which capture the realities of the conflict and put a human face on the displaced millions living in poverty. The movement seeks to raise funds in order to continue touring the videos around the United States.  It is also trying to begin reconstructing the demolished infrastructure of Uganda and surrounding countries by rebuilding schools, implementing educational, vocational, and health-related programs, and generating jobs within the poorest sector of Ugandan society.
            The students of the Honors College can now claim a part in the great strides that Invisible Children is making overseas. Through the efforts of the Invisible Children Student Organization, documentaries have been shown multiple times on campus, helping to raise awareness about the conflict in Uganda throughout the Jupiter community and surrounding areas. They have also worked hard to raise funds to send to Uganda in the hopes of making an impact on the reconstruction initiatives taking place. “We want to end the longest-running war in Africa, whether that’s through donations, screenings, or spreading the cause,” says Ashley Hawk, an Honors College junior and a member of the Invisible Children Student Organization on the John D. MacArthur campus for three and a half years. “We are making a difference,” Hawk insists. “Every one of us matters and has an impact.” Other members echo her sentiments. Caitlyn Hood, a sophomore at the Honors College, serves as the Chair of the Business Committee that organizes Invisible Children film screenings on campus. Like Hawk, she feels that her efforts are contributing to something that reaches far beyond the Honors College. “When I watch these videos, I know in my heart that we are changing the world through awareness, action, and through support.”
            Although the goal of the club is to assist in Uganda, the organization is having a more immediate impact on campus as well. Kristi Beroldi, an Honors College junior and current president of the Invisible Children Student Organization, maintains that the club “helps build a sense of community, and creates an opportunity for students to make some great friends.” Kristiann Baluta claims that her experience with the club offered her surprising social opportunities. “I met some really fantastic people in the organization who I would have never met otherwise.”
            This club is one more example of how Honors College students are socially engaged with the world through work in their own community. These students encourage their peers and members of the community to join them in ending the conflict in Uganda and changing the lives of those living among the remnants of the war-torn nation. One student aptly captured the sentiments of the organization when he stated, “I feel like I’m a part of something bigger and more meaningful than just myself. Who wouldn’t want to feel like they’re helping such a great cause?”

 

byline: WHC Student Intern Megan Geiger

Bringing the Invisible to Light:
Honors Students Unite to Stop Conflict in Uganda

 
Last Modified 11/21/13