Note: this is happening in 100 cities around the world. check out where it may be happening near you.
originally printed in the Dinuba Sentinel on April 16, 2009
By Brandi Nuse-Villegas
Family photographs belonging to Dinuba residents hang pinned with hundreds of others. Circles quickly drawn around individuals indicate those who have been abducted.
The scene, although simply symbolic, is meant to point people to a vivid reality that a group of Dinuba residents, and people throughout the world, are trying to change.
On April 25, Dinuba resident Stephanie Seitz and Matt Naylor, several other local residents, and hundreds of activists joining with the organization Invisible Children will congregate at the People’s Church parking where they will be “abducted,” and made to walk to a camp on the Fresno State campus, two miles away, where they will stay, and not leave, until a high profile person shows up to rescue them. Each of the abducted are identified with markings on a family photos that are hung together at camp.
The act, part of an event called “the Rescue,” is meant to symbolize the very real and ongoing abduction of young children in Northern Uganda by the brutal rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA, led by Joseph Kony, has been fighting against the Ugandan government for 23 years and has gained international attention for its brutal acts of murder, rape, and mutilation in Northern Uganda, South Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the kidnapping of children. The attacks have been particular severe in the past several months after the East African governement launched attacks on the LRA.
Invisible Children has organized ‘the Rescue’ in a hundred cities around the world to call on those who can do something to effectively bring all of the abducted children home and put an end to Kony’s reign of terror.
Stephanie and Matt are two of eight team leaders who are organizing the Fresno event. At the Fresno site, over 600 people are expected to come and be “abducted” as a public statement on behalf of child soldiers.
Matt, who visited former female child soldiers and their children in Uganda in December, shared his heart and why he is involved. “The tragedy of the LRA is more than that there are children who are abducted and forced to kill – it is also the unthinkable trauma of babies born out of sexual abuse in rebel camps. Bombing of the LRA camps will only end up killing child soldiers, child mothers, and risks killing infants conceived by the brutal rape of abducted girls who are given as ‘wives’ to much older rebel commanders. If governments are going to be involved in bringing an end to the Lords Resistance Army – it needs to be a well thought out strategy that rescues those who are only part of that rebel group because of fear and brings justice to those who are responsible for the abductions and atrocities. That sort of government action is the call of ‘The Rescue.’”
Those in the leaders’ teams also include Dinuba Presbyterian Church member Tom Martin and Dinuba Christian Church member Brandi Nuse-Villegas. Other Dinuba residents are expected to come as participants.
Stephanie is organizing letter writing to political leaders and artwork, which will be encouraged at the Rescue event. Matt is heading up a clean-up team to ensure that the location provided look “as good or even better” than before the activists came.
They welcome locals to participate in the event, even if they cannot attend. The event requires many supplies to be lent or donated.
For more information on the event, the child soldiers and the LRA, and Invisible Children, visit invisiblechildren.com.