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Club aids Ugandan children

Ashley Charnley | Tuesday, September 14, 2010

As part of Saint Mary’s mission, the College strives to be a hub for service both in the local community and throughout the world. To this end, senior Kristen Metzger, founder and president of Invisible Children at the College, has been working toward helping the children of war-torn Uganda.

“We are young activists working to restore Northern Uganda to peace and prosperity,” Metzger said.

The club started in fall 2009, when Metzger decided there was a need on campus for a group like Invisible Children. The club is actually a branch of the global organization that began with the making of a documentary of the same title. The Invisible Children organization uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Uganda, according to its website.

Metzger held a showing of the film early last year, and has been working to increase membership since then.

“We want to make a tangible impact in Uganda,” she said.

Metzger said she is looking forward to the group’s upcoming event, which will bring Ugandans to campus to discuss their experiences in northern Uganda.

“There’s a tour of unparalleled authenticity — allowing the people of northern Uganda to tell their stories face-to-face at screenings across North America,” Metzger said.

The screening will be on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. in Carroll Auditorium on Saint Mary’s campus. It will be open to Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s students as well as the South Bend community.

Metzger said she is also hoping to join the global organization’s Schools for Schools program, which helps encourage higher academic standards and provides aid to northern Ugandan schools. These stories will also be told during the screening.

“The people from Uganda will be sharing how Invisible Children’s programs are rebuilding education for a region recovering from over 20 years of war,” Metzger said.

The screening will show students what is going on in Uganda, and hopefully inspire activism, Metzger said.

“These students have overcome all odds,” she said. “They are night commuters, child mothers, displaced persons and orphans by war. They refuse to be defined by their past, pushing forward to define their own futures.”

Ultimately, Metzger said she hopes the group will be able to travel to Uganda and help first-hand. As a senior, she said her short-term goal is to bring more students into the club and raise awareness on campus.

In the spring semester, Metzger is working on hosting a week of events including guest speakers, alumnae and volunteers to help raise funds and awareness for the organization.

“The people of Uganda are asking for a future beyond the conflict, and their pleas have inspired this organization,” Metzger said. “Our main goal is enable children to take responsibility for their destiny and the fate of their country.”