Making an issue less invisible

The gym at Marina High School was filled with about half of the school's students early Friday. But it was dead silent and full of tension.

All eyes were directed at a projector screen that showed the story of a young boy from Uganda named Tony Bazilo.

Tony grew up surrounded by war, poverty, tragedies and loss. He lost many loved ones, including his mother, and had no one to pull him through until he met young men and women from the Invisible Children.

The Invisible Children are the child soldiers who are abducted from their homes by a guerrilla group called the Lord's Resistance Army and forced to fight. The Invisible Children movement is fighting to stop an invisible war that has taken over five countries in Africa and is finding ways to bring the child soldiers back home.

Invisible Children's Cal-Pac team leader Katie McKenzie, 23, coordinated with Marina to visit and show the video. History teacher Jennifer Park serves as an advisor to the Invisible Children club on campus.

"It was really emotional and sad," said Diana Schwene, 15, a junior. "I know some people started crying when they talked about it."

Madison Pritchard, 17, said the story made her cry. She couldn't believe that someone could endure such a life.

"I like to try and learn more about it and make a difference," she said. "Everyone should have a chance to live a good life."

Marina has had an Invisible Children club with the goal to raise funds to help change the dynamics in Uganda. However, the club has been inactive for a couple of years, Park said.

The goal is now to get it back on track and raise funds for the organization.

"We're trying to fundraise for the Invisible Children organization because they're involved with building schools in Northern Uganda and focus on child soldiers who have escaped or recently escaped from being forced to serve in the rebel army in Uganda," Park said.

McKenzie joined Invisible Children this year and has been traveling across the country to show the video and bring awareness to the tragedies in Uganda. She and her team brought Tony's story to Marina and plan to take it to other schools.

"I believe so strongly in what we're doing," she said.

Twitter: @MonaShadia

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