Students take a look at an ‘invisible’ problem

Nick Baker

African school to benefit from Kent show

Credit: DKS Editors

Credit: DKS Editors

Credit: DKS Editors

For those members of our generation who grew up being told they were “lazy” or “apathetic,” enacting change – real change that makes people stop and take notice – seems to be a foreign concept. This concept may be as foreign as living in displacement camps, involuntarily fighting in wars or even walking a mile to get some water.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Some young people of America are seeking the type of empowerment that enables them to make a difference through their own means.

In central Africa, the young people of Uganda are seeking sanitary living conditions, education and, above all, refuge from war.

Five years ago, a few young filmmakers from California went to Uganda to film, and the three discovered stories that would ultimately be documented in 2003’s “Invisible Children: Rough Cut.”

The film highlighted the tragic stories of children abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced into combat as child soldiers. The filmmakers ended up creating an organization to raise awareness about Uganda. That organization is called Invisible Children.

Invisible Children is an international organization made up of young people who work directly with Ugandans to rebuild schools, provide education, and ultimately, end 30 years of violence between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Taking local measures

Invisible Children’s Great Lakes regional team of roadies will be in Kent tomorrow for a benefit show at the Vineyard. The show will feature six bands and a screening of Invisible Children’s latest documentary, “Go.”

“Go” documents the efforts of students who traveled to northern Uganda.

From a more local standpoint, eleven regional groups across the United States and Canada work directly with Ugandan schools through the Invisible Children organization, School for Schools. School for Schools rebuilds old or war-ravaged structures, as well as providing books and clean facilities for 13 schools in northern Uganda.

Kent State students collaborate with the Great Lakes region of School for Schools. The Great Lakes region focuses its efforts on St. Joseph’s Layibi Secondary School, an all-male boarding school that specializes in science and technology.

St. Joseph’s Layibi

Secondary School

Layibi was built in 1953 and is one of the oldest schools in Uganda. It is heavily damaged, overcrowded and lacking sanitary water.

Natalie Warne, a member of the Great Lakes team, recently returned from Uganda. Warne visited 11 schools, including the Layibi school.

“They need dorms rebuilt,” Warned said. “They need water sanitation and plumbing. Most of the buildings have no windows.”

The school was built for about 400 boys, she said. Because of the war, there are several displacement camps around the school. Now, there are 1,208 boys attending the school.

With the help of Invisible Children and the School for Schools program, however, two new science labs were built. Warne said that recently a riot occurred at the school because students made demands to the government of Uganda for aid and were refused.

“The boys all met up with sticks and rocks,” Warne said. “They started destroying the damaged buildings. The next day though, the two science labs built with money raised through School for Schools were untouched.

“Students show pride in the buildings. The students want the people contributing to know that their work does not go unappreciated.”

The third semester of the School for Schools program began in September. During the first semester in Fall 2007, students from 582 international schools raised over $1.6 million.

Spreading the message

Justin Rife, co-founder and member of the Kent State chapter of School for Schools said he teamed up with a few other students to start the Kent State branch last year.

He said when he first came across an Invisible Children table at a concert, he immediately felt not only the desire, but the responsibility, to be a part of School for Schools.

“I checked it out and thought, ‘I could totally help with this in some way,'” Rife said.

His company, DirtyFeet Productions, is sponsoring Friday’s show. He said the focus of the company is to put on concerts with a cause.

“We’re called DirtyFeet because we want to get our feet dirty,” Rife said. “We want to be in the trenches.”

Six bands are featured on Friday night’s benefit show. Three bands will perform, and then, the Great Lakes roadies will screen “Go,” followed by a quick question and answer session. After the screening, the remaining three bands will finish the show.

The roadies will have a table with more information about Invisible Children and School for Schools, and money raised at this weekend’s benefit show will go directly to Layibi Secondary School.

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Nick Baker at [email protected].