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Activists re-create Ugandan refugee crisis

first_imgJulie Evans, 24, of Lake Forest was taping up her cardboard hut Saturday and talking about the documentary “Invisible Children” that started this movement. “I was so fired up after I saw that movie, I wanted to yell from the housetops,” said Evans. The 2003 documentary about child soldiers in northern Uganda was made by three then-college students. Since then, Invisible Children has become a nonprofit group that has sprouted branch groups in high schools and universities and even piqued the interest of talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Evans said the perception of her generation as selfish and apathetic might have been true at one time but things are changing. “We’ve become a generation that cares. We’re out there trying to do things,” said Evans. “You look out at this crowd … no, this generation is not apathetic.” The crisis in northern Uganda has in some ways become what the Free Tibet movement was in the generation prior – a far-away cause energizing a population both young and passionate. On Saturday, the participants – dressed in T-shirts with the “Displace Me” logo of a red X – painted slogans of peace and unity all over their symbolic huts. “Every war has an end” and “They are displaced so we are displaced” were written across several makeshift tents. Unlike other past movements however, this one has the advantage of new technologies to spread the word quick and far. On Saturday, filmmakers documented the events in all 15 cities with the intention of making a short film for the Invisible Children Web site. Many admitted that their school groups were formed because of seeing videos and postings on MySpace. But the thousands who showed up Saturday weren’t enough to convince Alex Shrove, 17, of San Diego that her peers were globally aware. Shrove gives her generation a harsh indictment, saying that the thousands who descended on Pomona is just a fraction of others in her age group who remain indifferent. “People are consumed with MySpace and AIM,” said Shrove, referring to the AOL instant messaging service. “They don’t know what’s going on in their own country let alone genocides in other countries. I want to show that I’m not one of those teenagers.” [email protected] (909) 483-9376160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! • Photo Gallery: “Displace Me” Camp POMONA – They came in droves. Teens carrying stacks of cardboard with sleeping bags slung over shoulders, their faces slightly sunburnt with peace signs painted on their cheeks. There are so many words to describe the generation that this massive group of young people, who gathered at Fairplex in Pomona on Saturday, belongs to. YouTube, iPod and MySpace are just a few. But this weekend, another word joins that list – activist. A crowd estimated at 10,000 took part in a nationwide simulated displacement event to raise awareness of the crisis caused by the civil war in northern Uganda. Billed as “Displace Me,” the event started Saturday afternoon and continued into Sunday morning. The group, mostly high school and college students, put up cardboard huts on a Fairplex field, symbolizing the refugee camps that Ugandans have been forced into as a result of a war between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Pomona was one of 15 cities, including Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., that held the overnight event. last_img

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