posted April 24, 2006

Students to Participate in International Event

Approximately 200 students from Hope College will be among the more than 750 West Michigan community members participating in a 12-hour event in Grand Rapids on Saturday, April 29, intended to build awareness of the problem of children whose lives are being devastated by war in Uganda.

The "Global Night Commute," an international effort, will take place at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids starting at 7 p.m. and will continue until Sunday, April 30, at 7 a.m.

The Global Night Commute is sponsored by Invisible Children Inc. as part of the organization's commitment to document the true stories of the children tragically affected by two decades of war in Northern Uganda, to raise awareness about the war and to empower individuals toward action. The Invisible Children Web site, (www.invisiblechildren.com), writes that the tragedy is "called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today because of the lack of attention."

The Grand Rapids event is among demonstrations scheduled in 136 cities around the world, with a total of some 29,000 people having pledged to participate across the United States. The Global Night Commute is taking place in five Michigan cities, including not only Grand Rapids but also Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Rochester.

Participants in the Global Night Commute will take part in letter-writing

campaigns to government leaders, individual photos and creative arts projects. At 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, participants all over the world will be filmed standing in front of a sign in their respective city that, when combined with the signs from all of the communities, will be used in an "Invisible Children" movie as well as other pieces of Invisible Children media.

The international initiative began with three young filmmakers in California. When they traveled to Africa in 2003, Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole were in search of a story on the tragic condition of Sudan. What they found was a nation of people crying out to be heard.

After 20 years of war in Northern Uganda, 40,000 children commute every night into the cities to escape abduction for the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Yet the world does not know what the children face and the danger to which they've grown accustomed. Once the LRA is successful in abducting children, they immediately desensitize them by forcing them to kill.

The situation has put strain on Northern Uganda as a whole, affecting education, health, and the young minds of the nation's future.

The Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU) reports that, "each day, 58 children under the age of five die as a result of violence and preventable diseases." Although it's hard to keep statistics, the CSOPNU says that more than 25,000 children have been abducted and 250,000 children are not receiving any kind of education.