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Invisible Children presents film and speaker

By Sam Mintz
On October 11, 2011

Representatives from the organization Invisible Children, which uses documentary film and other forms of outreach to combat violence and the use of child soldiers in central Africa, brought their latest documentary, "Tony," and a speaker from Uganda to a full auditorium in the Mandel Center for the Humanities building last night.

The official sponsors of the event were the International Club and the Brandeis African Students Organization, while the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity also unofficially sponsored the visit.

Invisible Children is a movement and organization whose goal is to end the terrorism by the guerilla Lord's Resistance Army and its leader Joseph Kony, according to the organization's website.

The LRA has been waging war on the government of Uganda for 23 years and also operates in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Invisible Children is an excellent organization that's working for a cause that isn't well known by a lot of people," said Phi Psi philanthropy Co-chair Adam Krebs '14 in an interview with the Justice. "Some parts [of the documentary] are hard to watch, but it's a really interesting film."

"Tony" is a short documentary that follows the developing friendship of Invisible Children Co-founder Laren Poole and a Ugandan boy named Tony.

It also highlights some of the atrocities carried out by Kony and the LRA, including rape, murder and the enlistment of child soldiers.

The end of the documentary describes some of the ways that people can contribute to Invisible Children, such as donations, fundraising and documentary screenings.

Appearing with several energetic volunteers from Invisible Children, whom the organization calls "roadies," was a young woman from Northern Uganda named Grace.

She spoke about her experiences with the violence in Africa. "Growing up was hard for me. I and my family lived in a lot of fear every night and every day," said Grace.

Her cousin was abducted at the age of 12 and has been missing ever since, she said.

"As much as I have a bright future before me, it isn't the same case with the brothers and sisters and people of the different communities in Africa. Families are living in a lot of fear. I encourage you to stand with us tonight, that peace may prevail in central Africa," she added.

"In high schools, in colleges, [members of the Invisible Children organization] show their film, which showcases the work that they're doing. They sell T-shirts, they sell copies of the documentaries they have, and they raise pledges," said Phi Psi philanthropy Co-chair Ben Sargent '13. "Without the support of universities and philanthropic organizations like Phi Psi, they really can't do what they need to do."

Though Phi Psi was one of the organizations responsible for the event, the university "denied" the fraternity's request to officially have its name attached to the event because "it was too short notice," said Phi Psi's Krebs.

In an email to the Justice, Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer wrote that he was unable to answer the request in time due to his absence from campus and that he worked with Student Union President Herbie Rosen '12 to find a "reasonable" way to present the program.

"I do not see this as precedent setting.  I see it more as a courtesy on my part to students who expressed intent on raising awareness about a very compelling global issue," wrote Sawyer.

According to representatives of the fraternity, charity work makes up a large portion of their presence on campus.

"Phi Psi was created under the ideas of philanthropy and the great joy of serving others," said Krebs.  

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