A group dedicated to the education of Ugandan children is today one of the fastest-growing student organizations on campus. The Elon chapter of “Invisible Children” has raised more than $5,200 in the past year to sponsor a secondary school in the war-ravaged African nation.
The Elon chapter built its membership when Katie Meyer, now a sophomore at the university, enrolled in 2006. The Indiana native first joined the cause through her church at home. When she arrived at the university and saw no formal student group existed, Meyer called the charity’s national headquarters for guidance.
Rebel soldiers in Uganda for years had kidnapped thousands of children and forced boys to bear arms in a civil war against the government, according to the Invisible Children web site. Though no formal truce has been signed, peace has held steady in recent years, and the nonprofit group has turned its focus on economic development and the education of young children in northern Uganda.
“This war has been going on for 23 years now,” Meyer said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and time to (find a solution).”
Meyer partnered with Elon Volunteers! and launched the university chapter with 15 classmates. One year later, more than 120 students participate with the group, which is today raising funds for Uganda’s education system through the Schools for Schools program. The university boasts the largest number of registered users on the Schools for Schools web site.
Meyer and Katrina O’Hara, the organization’s vice president, attribute much of their recent success to the promotion of their cause at Invisible Children’s fall event, a four-hour Walkathon held in October. They said the walking component was symbolic of the plight of the Invisible Children, who walk in the night to flee the danger of rebel camps.
The event featured food and games as well as opportunities for attendees to write letters to their senators or to view a documentary titled “ Rough Cut” on the plight of the Invisible Children. Thirty students and four faculty members also traveled to Washington, D.C., in May 2007 for a rally in support of the Northern Ugandan children most affected by the civil war that has torn the nation apart.
“It’s empowering,” Meyer said. “Everyone complains about how today’s youth don’t want to make a difference. We don’t vote, we don’t do this or that. This is something that we can do.”
Students interested in becoming a part of Invisible Children at Elon are asked to contact Katie Meyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Katrina O’Hara (email@example.com) for more information.
Article written by Bobby Hoppey ’09