Nighttime in Northern Uganda

Austinites pay tribute at Capitol to horrific struggle of war-torn country's young

One month ago, Linsey Krauss saw a screening of Invisible Children, which documents one of the most horrifying effects of the 19-year-old Northern Ugandan war. The documentary had come to Austin as part of a national "Suburban Safari" bus tour, and Krauss was so moved by it that she approached the filmmakers afterward wanting to help – which is exactly what's been happening across the country. The documentary introduces you to three California film students who've decided to go to Africa in search of an interesting story, which they more than find in the night commuters, rural Ugandan children who trek to town every night to evade rebel armies, which abduct children as young as 5 years old and force them to fight the government. To avoid rebel soldiers, children sleep wherever they can find protection – often just a man with an AK-47 who walks the perimeter of their bodies as they lie packed like sardines among hundreds of kids. Hoping to build enough U.S. pressure on the Ugandan government to end the war, the filmmakers have turned Invisible Children into a nonprofit, using the film, with its distinct MTV feel, to spawn a nationwide youth movement of screening parties and cause-oriented bracelet-wearing. In Austin, Krauss and her friends helped organize the April 29 Global Night Commute. About 1,000 people – mostly high school students and families with children in elementary or middle school – walked from UT to the Capitol, where they were to sleep over in a tribute to the nightly Ugandan ritual. (With sleeping on Capitol grounds forbidden, the demonstrators spent their time writing letters to Ugandan children and all left by 4am.) Overall, about 150 cities participated, with Sens. Sam Brownback and James Inhofe turning out in Washington, D.C. More events are to come locally, including this weekend's Mother's Day concert, where seven bands will play to raise funds for Ugandan educational and employment programs (3:30-11pm, Sunday, May 14, at Tambaleo, 302 Bowie). For more, see www.invisiblechildren.com.
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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Invisible ChildrenNorthern Uganda, Linsey Krauss, Invisible Children, Northern Ugandan war, Global Night Commute, Sam Brownback, James Inhofe

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