WEB EXTRA: Documentary presents child armies in Uganda

About 50 students screened a documentary about conscripted child armies in northern Uganda in the Marvin Center Sunday to raise awareness and money for preventing it.

The documentary, “Invisible Children,” sparked the creation of a national organization that encourages college campus’ nationwide to show the film and take donations. GW’s chapter of the national organization was formed in September.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Invisible Children United, Sara Ahmed, first heard of the documentary and of Invisible Children from a friend on the West Coast. GW’s chapter is the first of its kind on the East Coast.

The group plans to screen the documentary again in the spring as part of the Invisible Children World Tour 2007, Ahmed said. The filmmakers – Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole – will travel to GW for the showing. When the group is not working on film screenings, members sell T-shirts to raise money.

Sophomore Nicky Barnett, assistant executive officer of Invisible Children United, had seen the documentary before but said it still affected her.

“(It’s) the fact that these kids are still able to sing and dance, that they still have hope, they are still studying when they have no light and they still think of their future,” Barnett said.

The documentary is made for college students, possessing some moments of humor, although the humor is somewhat lost amid the desolation recorded, Barnett said. She added that the GW chapter is hopeful their efforts will make a difference.

“We’re here in Washington D.C.,” she said. “If change can happen, this is where it’s going to happen.”

After the documentary ended, Ahmed encouraged members of the audience to tell three people about what they saw – part of the organization’s goal of spreading awareness.

The filmmakers call the children “invisible” because of their relatively unknown status in the international community and because no one really knows how many children the Ugandan rebel army has abducted. The $250 raised at the event was invested in the organization’s revenue-generating programs in Uganda and The Invisible Children Education Program, which provides schooling for war-affected children, according to Invisible Children’s Web site.

A representative from Save the Children and students from the groups Student Movement for Real Change and George Washington Amnesty International were in attendance.

Students who had not seen the documentary before said they were stunned. When the lights went up in the Continental Ballroom, there was nothing but silence.

Sophomore Joseph Cafone, a member of Invisible Children United, was visibly moved after the film ended.

“You can sit here and talk facts and numbers and say just general overtones of what’s going on,” he said. “This movie really helped me to see it and believe it.”

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