Invisible Children mentor speaks at the Kiva

Godrey Opiyo speaks to students for Invisible Children Presents: The Frontline Tour. Photo by Elyse Claassen

Godrey Opiyo speaks to students for Invisible Children Presents: The Frontline Tour. Photo by Elyse Claassen

Rex Santus

Invisible Children’s presentation in the Kiva Tuesday night moved viewers to laughter and tears and provided ways for students to become involved with the organization.

The event kicked off with a viewing of the organization’s film, “Tony,” which follows the life of the documentary’s namesake, a Ugandan native.

The film followed Tony from his first encounter with members of Invisible Children to his mother’s death, his journey to America to promote awareness about the longest conflict in Africa’s history and his return to Uganda, where terrorists murdered his friend, Nate, an American Invisible Children volunteer.

Many students found themselves moved by the film; among them was Cori Wagner, freshman communications major.

“I cried during it,” Wagner said. “It really opened my heart to the movement. I have a little brother, and I couldn’t imagine having him taken away from me.”

Following the film, Godfrey Opiyo, a Ugandan mentor traveling with Invisible Children, spoke to the audience about his experiences and why students should get involved with the organization.

“It may not be about my story…but it may be about a community enduring the same thing I went through,” Opiyo said about the film. “It is about somebody being used and being forced to be a child soldier at this moment.”

Opiyo said he used to be what is known as a “night commuter,” a child who travels at night to sleep safe from abduction by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

“The year was 1985, one I remember very well,” Opiyo said. “I used to spend the night in the jungle, because I (was) running away from the LRA.”

One night, Opiyo decided to sleep at home instead of night-commuting. He called this the biggest mistake of his life.

“That was when the LRA came (to my) home,” Opiyo said. “I had five people — you can count on your fingers — from my family killed.”

The LRA murdered Opiyo’s father, brother and three cousins.

“There is no way to bring a dead person back to life,” Opiyo said. “My family, especially my father, is my everything.”

After Opiyo spoke, Andrea Ramsay, Invisible Children “roadie,” joined Opiyo to answer the audience’s questions. Both speakers also gave the students advice on how to get involved with Invisible Children, particularly through its Legacy Scholarship Fund.

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The fund was designed to benefit children affected by the conflict in northern Uganda, Ramsay said, and aims to provide these children with the opportunity to obtain an education.

“We do not believe we can truly end this conflict without a holistic approach,” she said. “And the way to do that is through education.”

Those who choose to contribute to the Legacy Scholarship Fund may provide $35 per month, which is used to promote learning in Uganda, Ramsay said. Anyone can donate through Invisible Children’s website.

“If you help put a child in school today, you have helped shape the future,” Opiyo said.

Jessica Corson, senior marketing major, said she was impressed and moved by Opiyo’s stories.

“I’ve known about Invisible Children for years now,” Corson said. “I’ve seen the documentary before, but it was very interesting to hear from Godfrey and what he’s been through.”

Opiyo said it is most important to hope for and to make a better future.

“Nobody will ever forget the massive mutilation, massive force of children into war,” Opiyo said. “Never will we allow the ugly past to define our future.”

Contact Rex Santus at [email protected].