The Daily Gamecock

Invisible Children on campus

New organization to help child soldiers in Uganda

Second-year international business, accounting and economics student Emily Watkins has organized a USC chapter of Invisible Children.

"I decided to bring Invisible Children to USC because, for one, I am passionate about service, and two because I wanted to make a difference in these children's lives," Watkins said.

In 2003, filmmakers made a documentary called "Invisible Children" about children, as young as 5 years old, in Uganda who were kidnapped and forced to join a rebel militant group called the Lord's Resistance Army. The documentary and organization that resulted from it received its name from the thousands of children, often called "night commuters," who leave their villages at night in an attempt to avoid abduction.

"I know that outreach and social issues are important to students at USC," Watkins said. "However, I think that in general, we are less sensitive to social issues that are not immediately at our doorstep or highly televised — like the plight of orphans and child soldiers in Uganda — which is what Invisible Children is all about."

Watkins plans to raise awareness on campus about the organization's cause and to empower students to make a change through fundraising activities and events.

Watkins says the chapter plans to organize a large book drive to raise funds for rebuilding schools, supporting literacy and providing scholarships to students in Uganda. The program would be a partnership with Invisible Children and Better World Books, utilizing books that couldn't be sold back to the University Bookstore. The organization will also partner with Cocky's Culinary Club to hold a bake sale fundraiser Oct. 12–13.

"If we raise enough support we could actually send someone to Uganda to carry our stuff. I don't see why that's not possible. The possibilities are endless," Watkins said.

About 15 students attended the organization's first meeting Monday night, most of whom said they were drawn to the group because of the opportunity to get involved in service on campus.

"Not only is this a good cause, it's something that's close to us," said Sam Somani, a second-year economics and political science student. "I mean, we've all been hungry and cold at times, but I don't think any of us have ever had to deal with on a daily basis [what these children do]."

Watkins said the group will be considered an official university organization in a week or two once the processing has been sorted out.


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