Image of the Invisible
Presented by Irvine’s Center of Unconventional Security Affairs (CUSA), this year’s award went to Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey, the founders of Invisible Children (IC).
Russell and Bailey, former students of the University of Southern California, and Poole, a former UC San Diego student, traveled to Africa in the spring of 2003 searching for a story.
Discovering children who were being brought up as soldiers via the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda, they documented what they could and produced “Invisible Children: The Rough Cut.” Soon after, they founded Invisible Children, a nonprofit organization to improve global awareness of the children soldiers.
C. Ronald Huff, dean of the School of Social Ecology, welcomed the audience. Sandi Jackson and Susan Samueli, co-chairs of CAHS, provided brief remarks and acknowledgements.
“[We have to] think about how to use our tremendous power … We have so much potential,” said CUSA director and Professor Richard Matthew upon introducing the founders.
Initiating the main event, the founders of IC, presented their video-filled lecture “We Live in Dramatic Times.”
Beginning with a story of how they acquired their camera via eBay to document Invisible Children, the founders screened a trailer for the film.
“We had to humanize the faces of these children,” Russel said.
A video following the trailer brought up the IC bracelet campaign.
Before presenting a video of volunteers touring the country in RV vans spreading the IC movement through screenings of the documentary at high schools and colleges; the founders mentioned that they too were once in a position of ignorance prior to their visit to Africa.
After mentioning Oprah Winfrey’s willingness to talk to them, the founders introduced a video of American students in a national campaign, Global Night Commute, where students walked to their respective downtown areas to spend the night.
The founders also mentioned a peace process in Uganda that began in 2006, two months after the students’ national Global Night Commute campaign.
The next video documented aspects of the Schools for Schools campaign, followed by a final video on how to get involved with IC.
The lecture ended with the presentation of the 2008 Human Security Award to Russel, Poole and Bailey for their efforts.
Poole said that Invisible Children is set to expand to Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, New Zealand and other parts of Europe.
“We want this to be an international movement,” Poole said. “A human being … has a certain connection to a higher power … a belief that we were designed for a great purpose … with souls,” Bailey said, commenting on their inspiration to begin IC. “We came together … just to say, ‘If we can do anything in the world, let us start with … helping our friends … in northern Uganda.’ ”
“What they do is amazing,” said Emily Hetu, a third-year international studies major and anthropology minor and president of UCI’s Invisible Children Schools for Schools club.
Hetu added that the video of the children sleeping alone outside served as inspiration for her to involve students and make them aware of the situation. “They deserve a chance,” Hetu said.
The founders are preparing a final cut of their film to be released in theaters soon.
More information about “Invisible Children” can be found at www.invisiblechildren.com.