Child Soldiers Given Voice at UT

Published: Feb 26, 2010
Joshua Omoding-Okol ’10 has seen the Invisible Children.

Born in Uganda, he knows the Invisible Children are recruited to fight as soldiers in the 23-year battle in Northern Uganda. He knows those children are kidnapped and stolen from their families.

Coming March 2 at 6 p.m. to Martinez Sports Complex are two from the Invisible Children generation, now grown and sharing their stories with the world with the help of a nonprofit organization of the same name, Invisible Children.

Christine Merry ’11 attended a presentation by the nonprofit organization while in high school. Through the use of film and social action, Invisible Children works to end the use of these child soldiers.

“There is no way I could see the presentation and not do something about it,” said Merry, UT’s PEACE volunteer coordinator, who is helping coordinate the March 2 event.

“I’ve always had a passion for Africa because the children aren’t given as many opportunities as the people here are,” said Merry who is majoring in finance and management.

Okol, a resident assistant in Straz Hall, said while living in Uganda he would be shocked each year with what new atrocity the rebel army would come up with to haunt the children. Like the fires rebels set fire to school dormitories, full with sleeping children. Okol’s own school held a donation drive in 2003 to collect clothes for families of those affected.

“It’s really sad,” said Okol, who is from the eastern border of the country more removed from the violence. None the less, he said the affects of the war were ever present.

The double major senior, international business and management information systems, said he has seen the child soldiers who escape wandering the streets of Uganda looking lost, forever orphans.

“It’s atrocious,” Okol said.

But why should students at the University of Tampa, a continent away, be concerned about the plight of Northern Ugandans?

“Out of human compassion,” Okol said. “It affects children of our age range. They are the ones being kidnapped and turned into child soldiers. It’s something we can identify with. We can understand that this robs them of their future.”

For more information on Invisible Children, visit www.invisiblechildren.com.


Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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