The crowd gathered in the basement of Building 8 was silent.
They were watching Kony 2012: Part II on dual screens.
“It’s very moving… there’s so much more that needs to be done to help,” said nursing student Kimberly McCutcheon of the organization and its work.
The Invisible Children Great Lakes team came to Sinclair to present the film on May 3. They also brought a former child soldier, Olunya Richard, who spoke after the film ended and conducted a question and answer session.
At the end of the event, participants were able to purchase merchandise, with the proceeds going toward supporting the organization.
When the film ended, Richard came to the stage to speak.
He said that this was his first time in the U.S. and mentioned the feeling of “being full,” pointing out different restaurants, such as Chipotle and Taco Bell. The audience laughed.
He also discussed his experiences living as a soldier, mentioning a time when he was forced to go to a village to get food and comparing his family hiding from the rebels to a game of hide and seek.
“My dream has always been to take care of my kids” he said. He wants to provide a safe place for them to live.
He also called on people to take action and join hands to fight back against Kony.
“ A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step,” he said.
“It’s cool that he’s here,” Josh Culliton, a Liberal Arts student, said about Richard.
Three college students, Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole, who were on their way to Sudan to film a documentary, started the Invisible Children organization in 2004.
“They ended up in Northern Uganda, because Uganda and Sudan border [each other], and they found another horrific situation that a lot of the world didn’t know about,” said Teri Mason, adjunct faculty with the Sociology Department.
At that time, there was rebel warfare in that area led by Joseph Kony, Mason said.
“They [the three college students] started encountering all these kids walking toward this town… called Gulu, which was one of the biggest cities in the Northern area, and they were wondering what the heck was going on when they found these children who were walking miles and miles and miles to sleep there so that they wouldn’t be kidnapped, and then walking miles and miles and miles home in the morning every day for years and years,” she said.
These three students decided to create a film about what they had discovered.
“It was kind of a hidden conflict,” Mason said of the warfare in Uganda.
The rebel group was in need of troops, so they began kidnapping children to work as soldiers.
“They [the rebel forces] would go into villages and start shooting and killing people, grab a bunch of kids [and] make one of them do something like kill a family member with a machete so they thought they could never go back, tie these kids together and then turn them into porters and they had to carry guns and food… horrific, just horrific circumstances,” Mason said.
The number of children who have been kidnapped and made into soldiers is unknown.
“They have no idea because often times kids aren’t born in hospitals and especially in the rural areas in the bush, so anywhere from 30 to 50 thousand,” said Cheryl Taylor, an instructor in the Sociology Department.
Taylor said that she shows the film to her students.
“I think what I like to convey to students… is that you can make a difference. These three young guys basically created an international movement that has changed the face of Northern Uganda and it’s amazing,” she said.