SLO to make ‘Global Night Commute’

More than 350 people will make the night commute to Santa Rosa Park this Saturday to sleep under the stars and make a stand with the humanitarian organization, Invisible Children. The Global Nightly Commute is a nonprofit event geared toward pressuring the American government to put an end to the on-going civil war in Uganda.

“Americans are closing their eyes to open the World’s to an unseen war. By lying down, we are joining the invisible children in Northern Uganda, and demanding that our government help put an end to the longest running war in Africa’s history, and one of the worst crises in the world today,” according to the organization’s Web site, www.invisiblechildren.com.

The brainchild of three Southern Californians, Invisible Children was started after co-founders Bobby Bailey, Jason Russell and Loren Poole went on vacation to Northern Africa in spring 2003 and made a horrifying discovery.

According to the site, “The start of Invisible Children came in 2003 when three naive filmmakers, from Southern California, flew to Africa in search of a story that would change the world. What they found was a situation in Northern Uganda that disgusted and inspired them. They documented their findings of a 20-year-long war where children are the weapons, and the victims. The result was a film called, ‘Invisible Children: Rough Cut.’”

“For a long time, nothing was done (about the war) because no one knew about it,” officer manager Susan Shrinkle said. “But in the last few years there’s been a lot of awareness raised about the civil war in Uganda.”

Shrinkle added that “Invisible Children: Rough Cut” has played a large role in educating people about the war crimes occurring in the African country.

The event will begin with participants making the night commute to a designated place in each individual city that is involved with the project. Men, women and children are encouraged to write letters to President Bush asking for assistance in ending the war, or making personal art projects that will be used in a future film about the project called “National Tour: Suburban Safari.”

“We are gathering in the cities and asking the government two things: to ask the president to pressure the United Nations into ending the conflict and protect civilians in Uganda,” Shrinkle said. “And we want (President Bush) to pressure the president of Uganda to ensure adequate humanitarian assistance to the children.”

A harrowing documentation of civil injustice and raw human pain, the movie follows the lives of two brothers who have just escaped from the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel militant group that has seized control of much of Uganda. The LRA is known to kidnap children and violently force them into becoming soldiers or sex slaves. Those who refuse are either severely maimed or killed.

The three co-founders were recently flown out to Chicago, Ill. by Oprah Winfrey to appear live on her talk show. The episode, which aired Wednesday, highlighted the efforts of Invisible Children and multiple celebrities, including National Geographic correspondent Lisa Ling and George Clooney, who are working diligently in support of the organization’s cause.

“The organization is dedicated to ending the war in Northern Uganda where children are abducted and forced to fight with the rebel army as child soldiers. For fear of being hunted by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), these children commute on foot every night to find safe places to sleep in their town centers. To date, more than 30,000 children have been abducted and forced into war. That’s why Invisible Children is calling on the world to take a stand,” the Web site said.

Approximately 138 cities are participating in the event and more than 18,000 people are signed up to make the Global Night Commute. That number, according to a mass e-mail sent out by the Invisible Children organization, is expected to increase drastically following their appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show.

The Global Night Commute in San Luis Obispo will take place Saturday from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at Santa Rosa Park. Volunteers are encouraged to walk from their homes in order to experience the full effect of traveling to a “safe sleeping place.”

For more information about the event and Invisible Children, visit its Web site at www.invisiblechildren.com, or call 1-800-984-2632.

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