For years now, it has been a personal dream of mine to raise awareness to youth in my community for human rights abuses using the power of art. Recently, I developed my dream into a goal: to organize a gallery exhibit using artwork created by students from local high schools in an effort to benefit the children of Uganda. Gallery space donated by a nearby gallery is helping to make my goal become reality this March. The show will benefit Invisible Children, a non-profit dedicated to rebuilding the lives of children in Northern Uganda affected by the twenty year long war that has ravaged the country, through providing education, health and rehabilitation centers.
The war in Uganda began in the over twenty years ago, when a woman named Alice Lakwena believed she was destined to overthrow the Ugandan government for persecuting the Acholi people in the North. Using her influence, Lakwena began launching attacks using rebel forces in an attempt to throw the government in the 1980s. After her exile, a man named Jospeh Kony took control of her forces, naming the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Fighting continued, but with recruitment dwindling, Joseph Kony began kidnapping children as young as five from the North to train as soldiers. Child soldiers are high desired by rebel groups because of their susceptibility indoctrination tactics used by the LRA. Until 2006, these kidnapping forced thousands of rural children to seek safety in the streets of urban cities at night, when LRA abductions are most common. It has been estimated that 50,000 kidnappings have taken place in Uganda and that 90% of the LRA are children. (Invisiblechildren.com) For those who escape the brutality of the rebel forces, rehabilitation, education, healthcare and safety are desperately needed. Invisible Children is bringing such aid to the Ugandans.
The art benefit show will showcase the work of students in my community, while enabling youth to raise awareness for human rights abuses around the world, specifically those currently taking place in Uganda. Few funds are needed to cover costs of the show, mailing and publications-but the remaining money will be combined with the donations received on the night of the show to benefit the rebuilding of Northern Uganda through the established non-profit, Invisible Children.