While visiting the United States with a non-profit organization called Invisible Children, a young woman from Uganda made a stop in Southern Utah. Her goal on this tour is to educate Americans about her country and its 25-year civil war.
Harriet Achola of Lira, Uganda, shares her story at high school and college presentations around the country. On November 10 at Dixie State College, she told of how her mother, while pregnant with her, was abducted by rebels and witnessed horrendous events. Harriet’s mother eventually escaped, but was greatly traumatized. Harriet’s entire childhood was affected by the civil war.
“I lived in great fear because I knew the rebels’ way and what they used to do,” Achola said. “And since kids were the main target, I lived in great fear. Most of my nights were spended in the jungle just for safety, for fear of being abducted.”
Invisible Children (IC) volunteer Katrina Aucoin, of Laconia, N.H., explained the purpose of organization. “We’re a non-profit organization based out of San Diego that is working to end the longest war in Central Africa,” Aucoin said. “This a war for the last 25 years, a man by the name of Joseph Kony, has been abducting children and forcing them to fight as child soldiers.”
Invisible Children is dedicated to helping the youngest, displaced victims of the war by creating scholarships for education and rehabilitation centers for former child soldiers. The fundraising efforts go to these endeavors with donations and the sale of T-shirts, handbags and jewelry made by Ugandans which provide ongoing employment for them. The documentary which is featured at these IC presentations, called “Tony”, is also available for purchase to raise money.
After high school, Achola received a scholarship from Invisible Children to attend Makerere University where she studied hospitality management. She says she is so grateful for this opportunity. During her second year, she decided to give back to Invisible Children by taking a year out of her education to travel in the United States to advocate for her homeland and surrounding countries.
This is the second IC visit to St. George which made an impact on those who heard the message last spring. DSC student Shaira Dursteler attended the previous event and decided to get involved. She helped make arrangements to host a stop on the IC western tour.
Dursteler said, “I believe that Invisible Children is saving lives by creating awareness with the movie screenings, and everything that they are doing.”
Another DSC student, Ricky Wilkins said, “I think it’s a personal obligation to me anyway. I feel like, as a person of African descent, seeing my people like that, how can I not stand up and do something.”
Invisible Children provides an opportunity for both young adults of Uganda and America to collaborate in community service—creating a positive change for many lives.
“I did one semester in the spring [of college] and half way through, I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to this [IC] as long as I could; because my work was making a difference in the lives of others I would never meet, but it was absolutely worth it,” Aucoin said.
To learn more about the efforts to help Uganda visit: