One man’s struggle; One nation’s fight

Megan Wilkinson

Ocaya Jimmy lives in a small Northern Ugandan village. Jimmy studied hard to be ranked top of his class at Layibi Secondary School. He recently graduated with honors from his school.

Despite his academic success, his life journey has not been easy. Jimmy is one of many abducted children in Africa’s longest-running war. A Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army took him away in 1996 when he was only 10 years old to fight in a war against the Ugandan government, according to the Invisible Children website. Fortunately, he escaped the LRA after only 11 days; however, most children do not get away from the war nearly as easily as Jimmy.

Jimmy is currently traveling with the international organization known as Invisible Children across the Great Lakes region to speak about his extreme life experiences. At 8 p.m. tonight, he will be speaking in room 177 in the Michael Schwartz Center. The group’s president, Kristin Mulcahy, said that the event is open to all students and faculty. So far, Jimmy has talked to high school and college students from Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

“The group is called ‘Invisible Children’ because no one really knows how many children have been abducted,” said Andrew Bruner, senior English literature major and Invisible Children member. “There are no statistics; this war has been going on for just over 24 years.”

Before Jimmy’s speech, Invisible Children will show a movie called “The Rough Cut,” which explains the tragedies behind the hidden Ugandan war. Three college-aged boys from Southern California went on a trip in 2003 to Africa looking for a controversial story. They were astonished to find the rebel war in Uganda where innocent children were all victims. The three students were shocked to find that this war received barely any media attention. They decided to turn their trip into a 55-minute documentary to tell Uganda’s story.

“The movie was definitely an eye-opener for me,” said Kent State alumni and Invisible Children member Kayla Scheufler, “I was young when I saw it back in 2005 and I found it was way out of my comfort zone.”

Because of “The Rough Cut,” Scheufler joined the Invisible Children organization at Bowling Green State University earlier in her college years; she helped out with the Kent State organization after transferring schools. Kent State’s Invisible Children group grew much larger this semester alone. Scheufler said the last year’s group had a mere six to 10 consistent members per meeting. This fall, about 20 to 30 students come to each meeting.

“I’m just glad that this year’s Invisible Children is an officially recognized organization at Kent State University,” Bruner said. Much like Scheufler, Bruner played a big role in Bowling Green’s Invisible Children organization. He believes that the growth of the group is sure to bring more awareness about the Ugandan war to students at Kent State.

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].