On April 25th, thousands of people in 100 cities around the world abducted themselves to raise awareness to the plight of child soldiers in Uganda. The goal of The Rescue, an event organized by Invisible Children (www.invisiblechildren.com), is to end Africa's longest running war and to free Joseph Kony's child soldiers.
If you haven't watched Invisible Children - The Rough Cut yet, go to http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3166797753930210643 and watch the 55 minute documentary that started it all. Then, go to http://therescue.invisiblechildren.com and check out the 30 minute documentary about The Rescue.
So on April 25th, one of my friends and I grabbed our sleeping bags and drove to one of the cities participating in The Rescue. We met up with several hundred volunteers at the Abduction spot. After some waiting, we split up into groups of 20; each group had a long rope that participants held on to; and then we started marching to our LRA Camp. We sat up camp, wrote letters to senators and other people of cultural or political influence, listened to music, hung out an waited...
What were we waiting for? To be rescued!
To be rescued, we had to be covered by a major media outlet and a person of cultural or political significance had to come and read The Rescue anthem.
Our city was rescued Saturday evening. We had planned on spending the night; and a large group of people still stuck around, spent the night and then marched past the media outlets in the morning to get some more coverage - but my friend decided that she had too much work to do, so we headed back home.
I woke up Sunday and checked the Invisible Children Web site to see how other cities had been doing. There was still a significant number that hadn't been rescued. There was also a live feed from the headquarter in San Diego where we could watch and find out about what was going on around the world. I started watching....and soon I was hooked.
And then I heard the story of Chicago. Chicago had started out strong; 3,000 participants. But a few minutes into the march, torrential downpours. The number dropped to 100. The participants were standing under a bridge, then spent the night in a Tunnel. The number went back up to 400. They stayed at a student center, then moved to a church. And no rescuer in sight!
I was watching the continuous call on the live feed for volunteers to drive up to Chicago and for all of us to contact potential rescuers. I had planned on going to a concert that night but what was more important? I'm not necessarily close to Chicago, but it's a doable driving distance. I thought about it a little more and then, I just went. I got in my car and several hours later, I was in Chicago - in time to crash on the floor next to hundreds of other volunteers. The next morning, we moved out to Federal Plaza. We were writing more letters while the organizers were trying to figure out a new way to reach potential rescuer. Almost all cities had been rescued by now. We were waiting on a few. Rescue riders were leaving the rescued cities and driving to the ones that were still waiting.
I had to leave a few hours later; I had to get back to work. But I was thinking, I didn't really have much going on this week - at least not after Monday. Monday night was a program I couldn't miss, which is why I decided to head back to work. But Tuesday, I only had a 1:1 with my supervisor; Wednesday a team meeting and that was it for the week. It's the week before finals and my staff and students are all busy preparing for finals. My annual report was done. I really couldn't see a reason why I couldn't head back to Chicago after Monday night.
Well, my supervisor saw it differently. She didn't really say no - but she said it was a really bad time for me to leave the building right now (As If? Last weekend was bad because it was the last weekend before Finals, so everyone was out partying and we had a transport to the hospital and another documentation...but now it's really quiet) and that she would let me make that decision but she thinks I'm a good enough professional to make the right decision.
Seriously!?! If she didn't want me to go, just say no. Then I'll be frustrated but I'll get over it. Don't play these stupid mind games with me. I know she didn't want me to go.
Well, I didn't go and I've regretted it ever since. But I'm going off on a tangent; this post was supposed to be about Invisible Children.
Here's what I love about Invisible Children: it's what my living learning community is all about; it's about making change, finding something you're passionate about and standing up for it. The three filmmakers went to Uganda in search of a story and found a passion and a cause that they've been working for ever since! That's exactly what I want my students to learn/experience (well, maybe not to that extent but you know what I mean).
And the guys have developed a movement that allows students in high school and college to get involved and make a difference. I've never seen so many students become so passionate about an issue. Raising money, sleeping outside, talking to policy makers, ....
Seven days later, the group in Chicago was still going strong this morning. They headed up to Oprah's studios early in the morning (they did a song/dance in front of Oprah's studios yesterday...it was amazing...you should check it out the video from one of the practices: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MC0hBf6wtI); today they built a line all around Oprah's studios. Oprah saw them as she came in and was curious what was going on. In spite of all of our efforts, she herself hadn't heard about The Rescue yet. All of our communication hadn't gone past her PR staff.
A few minutes later, the three filmmakers found themselves in a meeting with Oprah; Oprah changed around her show and Invisible Children Chicago - the last city - was RESCUED!
AHHHH, Oprah is on right now. I gotta watch this!!!!