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Vail Mountain School hosts African documentary

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
HL invisible children KA 02-13-08
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VAIL, Colorado ” When it comes to super powers, which is better: invisibility or being bullet-proof?

Children in Uganda who are just trying to survive and avoid being slaughtered by machetes and gunfire would likely choose to be bullet-proof any day of the week.

And even though all of the kids are visible, almost nobody in the world outside of Uganda notices they exist. Harper Kaufman, a junior at Vail Mountain School, aims to change that by showing the movie “Invisible Children: rough cut” at her school tonight.



“There’s no way you can watch this film and not feel like you need to do something,” said Kaufman, who saw the film and decided to share it with as many people as possible.

“The whole basis of the movie is the fact that these children are invisible children, that the world doesn’t see them, you don’t hear about them, and to hear them say … ‘why are you forgetting about us?’ … really hits you,” Kaufman said.



The documentary, shot by three young American men ” Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole ” chronicles the trio’s trip to Uganda in 2003. In the small African country they witnessed horrible abuse of Ugandan children. Often the kids are kidnapped against their will by members of the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced to fight against the legitimate Ugandan Army. The film reveals that the young children being kidnapped and trained to fight in the rebel army are brainwashed and taught to kill other children and soldiers. The L.R.A. operates out of Northern Uganda and their bloody tactics have displaced over a million people, forcing them to take refuge in overcrowded and unsanitary camps.

The human-rights violations that are occurring in Uganda even now are unimaginable, and once Kaufman saw the childrens’ suffering, she couldn’t ignore it.

“The children that you meet in the movie talk about their brother being killed and their best friend being abducted, so it’s really amazing,” Kaufman said.



But how useful a tool is a movie showing the suffering of children half a world away?

Kaufman found it very useful and she began her crusade after a friend showed her the movie.

Rebekah Kennedy, a junior at Summit High School in Frisco, took a trip to Uganda last year with her church youth group after her pastor showed “Invisible Children.”

She showed Kaufman the film, who in turn will show her classmates and community members. This chain-reaction is exactly the vision filmmakers had for the project, which has now grown into a non-profit organization that continues to provide medical, education and food relief to the children of Uganda. The Invisible Children organization will help students and teachers plan a showing of the movie and raise funds to help Ugandan children.

“I haven’t done a showing before so I’m really not quite sure what to expect but I’m hoping it would raise quite a bit of money,” said Kennedy of the Vail Mountain School showing.

Kennedy also hopes to go back to Uganda and work at orphanages teaching kids music. She realizes that giving her time is the best way to make a difference.

Kaufman expects a large turnout for the “Invisible Children” showing and that those that can give to the cause, will.

“I really believe in the potential of our generation,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman believes she and her classmates are blessed, and that it’s their responsibility to give of their time and resources to help better the world.

“I feel like by showing them this movie, by giving them different ways to help, they will. I really believe they will,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman hopes to visit Uganda one day, and has a strong desire to continue helping children there long after the screening of “Invisible Children.”

If Kaufman can make time to help people she has never seen before when she’s not practicing for a swim meet, a soccer game or tutoring other students, perhaps her work will inspire people to do the same.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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