Students Join Thousands in Chicago and Across the World to Support Invisible Children
After nearly a week of standing out in the rain, sleeping wherever they could find shelter for the night, and marching through the streets of Chicago hoping to finally attract the attention of someone who would step up to aid them in raising awareness of their cause, Trinity students and hundreds of others assembled outside of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios on May 1. They were waiting to be “rescued” as part of Invisible Children’s worldwide “The Rescue” campaign to raise awareness of Ugandan children abducted to serve in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Trinity students have taken part in other campaigns associated with this movement, including the Global Night Commute in 2006 and Displace Me in 2008. This year, members of Trinity’s Social Justice Chapter and Social Work Student Organization rallied other fellow students to join thousands of participants in the march on April 25 from Chicago’s Federal Plaza to Grant Park. But after nearly a week had passed, Chicago remained the last city in the world whose group had not yet been rescued.
According to the official Invisible Children Web site, an integral part of each group’s success involved awaiting “rescue” from a well-known media or political figure. The Chicago group aimed high, refusing to give up until one of the people on their list, which included Oprah and the Obamas, stepped up.
On Friday morning, May 1, Oprah modified her show to include a brief interview with Invisible Children founders and filmmakers Bobby Bailey, Jason Russell, and Laren Poole who were standing outside, surrounded by a sea of 500 bedraggled, but joyful, Rescue supporters. The three men made the trip to Chicago to rally the crowd.
Sophomore Michelle DeHaan of Orange City, Iowa, helped organize the first wave of 22 Trinity students downtown on that rainy Saturday and was in the crowd awaiting Oprah almost a week later.
“Although the triumph of being on the Oprah show was very exciting, the most amazing experience was the united feeling we had as a generation to stand up for what we believe in and take a stance that we will not allow something of this magnitude to happen in our world today but that we will stand up for what we believe in and that means protecting these children.”
Students on campus watched the interview on a small television in a public relations class taught by Dr. Sherry Barnes, associate professor of communication arts. On the other side of the screen, fellow student Elizabeth Brice ’12 of Tinley Park, Illinois, was one of the faces in the huge crowd.
“When Oprah rescued us there was such a feeling of accomplishment, finally getting a voice heard for thousands of children captured in Uganda.”
Students created a tag team in order to relieve each other during the week and allow time for classes and final semester projects. Sam Huenink ’11 of Oostburg, Wisconsin, and Jennie Hill ’12 of Guston, Kentucky, were with DeHaan and Brice that first night and spoke of the cold and rainy weather conditions that temporarily reduced the number of supporters.
“We had to keep reminding ourselves why we were doing this,” said Hill, “why we were out there and that the most important thing was to raise awareness and support to finally end this war that’s been going on for 23 years—a war older than its soldiers.”
Four Trinity students from the Acting on Aids chapter were attending the Mobilization to End Poverty conference in Washington, D.C., and took time out to join The Rescue march there as their fellow Trinity students marched in Chicago. The D.C. group was rescued within in an hour by Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
Said DeHaan, “The movement that is Invisible Children is one of the most influential and important movements that our generation could be a part of, and standing together in solidarity just proved that our generation will come together to make this world a better place, and that is something that I think we can all be proud of.”
Read about Trinity students at the 2007 Displace Me event: http://tcc.trnty.edu/new/archive/050307d/
Read more about the movement, the film, and the history of the ongoing struggle in Uganda: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/home.php
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