Students rally at BGSU to protest use of child soldiers

A group of students at Bowling Green State University is taking a stand against children forced to join a
rebel army in Africa.
Last month, students gathered in the oval outside the student union to partake in "The RESCUE,"
which also took place throughout 100 cities in nine countries, all coordinated by the organization
"Invisible Children." Wearing white T-shirts with assault rifles spray-painted on them,
roughly 15 to 20 students camped in the oval overnight to represent these child soldiers in attempt to
bring light to the issue.
The rescue seeks to bring attention to children abducted from their families and forced to fight as
soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been at war with the Ugandan government as well as
several other countries in Africa for over two decades, according to an Invisible Children press
release.
Symbolizing the children forced to be in the armies, students waited for a prominent figure to
"rescue," them. To be rescued, the figure had to attend the gathering and make a statement on
behalf of these child soldiers.
"The point of that is to get all the big faces and big names of the world to pledge their support
for that issue," said Doug Thompson, one of the coordinators for the awareness effort at BGSU.
Rescuing students at BGSU was Blake Mycoskie, of TOMS Shoes, who was already be on campus to speak at
another function. TOMS shoes donates a pair of shoes to a child in need each time a shoe purchase is
placed.
On campus, several screenings of one of the Invisible Children’s movies, "The Rescue of Joseph
Kony’s Child Soldiers" took place throughout the week to increase awareness on the issue.
The movie shows rebel leader, Joseph Kony, who has led attacks throughout several countries in Africa and
also provides testimonies from the child soldiers themselves.
After viewing the movie, students were asked to reflect on what they saw and were invited to write a
letter to local politicians. All letters will be sent in as a group.
"By coming together we think we can make a statement," Thompson said.
The idea behind the letter-writing is "To show that their constituents really care about this,"
Thompson said. "Telling them that we want this issue on the forefront of international
policy."
Thompson, who has just seen the film within the last two weeks, was particularly moved by the viewing.

"After you see it, after you hear about it, you are kind of inclined to do something about," he
said. "We were immediately called to action."
As a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity on campus, which has helped coordinate the campaign,
Thompson said contributions have come in multiple forms. Members of the Arts Village have also done
their part to help raise money for the efforts, ripping out pages from old books, binding them with new
pages and turning them into journals to be sold. Students have also stepped in to create awareness
posters and to distribute information on these child warriors and the waging war in Africa.
Most students at BGSU probably have a general idea about the situation, Thompson said. "But it isn’t
really until they talk about it or watch the movie that they understand how pressing the issue is,"
and "exactly how horrifying the situation is."