So a few weeks back i was talking to my aunt who had been a long time volunteer in a local organisation and she suggested that i should keep a journal of my experiences. Of how i felt by doing what i am doing, my emotions and above all the strength and drive that keeps me going. So i decided to start and here is the first part.
June 2007 i started working at a new job. Within a few weeks of my starting there, my boss gave me a DVD called Invisible Children Rough Cut. Not sure what i was watching, that night i eagerly popped the DVD on and what started as a light and airy documentary had me in tears and anguish by the end. Rough Cut is one of the most powerful documentaries i have had the pleasure of watching. I like to call these Shockumentaries, as they really shock your body, mind and soul. One boy in particular was what drew me in, Jacob, The ex child soldier, you see i have a jacob, he is only 3 yrs old and if my jacob was stolen, how would i feel. Oh i cried, my heart ached for this Jacob, as a mother i wanted to scoop this child into my arms and give him the biggest hug i could ever give. it really broke my heart. there is no way i could picture this child as a soldier, the innocence and beauty in his face. how could this keep on happening? I was 27, i had not heard of this LRA war that started in 1986 when i was just a meagre 6 yr old child. Why? Why did i not know? Why was our media not reporting on this? Why were millions of people in displacement camps and thousands of children being abducted and no one was reporting this on the news? WHY? all i could keep on saying is WHY?
During this time, i started to suffer with my own nightmare, a multi nodular goitre that had taken over my thyroid and was slowly choking me to death. During 07 and 08 i went through one of the most darkest periods of my life. To know your dying, you can feel it, you can feel you cant breathe, this goitre was literally choking me, to get the perspective, i could not swallow a whole panadol tablet as it was too big to go down my osophegous, that is how small and restricted it was. My voice was suffering as well, being crushed by the goitre, i was advised by my specialist that i would never sing high notes again and it could take a while for the voice box to repair, some days it was so difficult to talk as my voice was so harsh and scratchy i really felt like i would never get my voice back. Thankfully in November of 2008 i had surgery to remove my thyroid and the nasty goitre and since then have been classified a “hypothyroidism”. On medication for life and a few issues afterwards, but i was blessed to be alive, i could breathe again! It was then i knew that i had to dedicate my voice to those who were not heard, singing is out of the question after suffering something like that, but being an activist isnt, having passion and speaking with passion about something isnt. I spent the next 2 months recovering and enjoyed the Christmas with my family. How sad i felt when on Christmas day 2008 the LRA attacked at town in DR Congo and massacred approx 620 villagers and kidnapped approx 130+ children. How? on Christmas day? i was left in tears, broken and lost at how one man could initiate the massacre on Christmas Day, a day we celebrate God and Family, this man took that away, this Joseph Kony. It was not over, but i wanted so badly to be a part of whatever it took to make it over. This was one mission i would not give up on, i look at my children and it pains me that another mother somewhere cannot look at her children, it pains me that another lily or jacob (my other son is reece which i highly doubt is a big name in africa) somewhere in the world do not have the luxuries that my children have, the luxury of good food and clothing, an education and above all a childhood. To support IC i have purchased their DVD’s, Bracelets, Tshirts, Scarves and more. I have donated my time and money to this cause as i believe in what they do, i have seen through their documentaries the difference they have made in the lives of those in Northern Uganda.
Emailing Invisible Children in Jan of 2009 i was advised that I.C were doing an Aussie Tour this year to hold a big worldwide event called “The Rescue”. Eagerly i awaited more information and in March i was able to get in contact with Katie Bradel and was asked to help out on the media relations team for the IC Sydney Event. After getting connected and catching up with Katie Bradel, she asked me to come work with her and a group of people on a Media Relations team to help organise some media for The Rescue. Eagerly i took on this role and headed into Newtown to meet Katie and the other volunteers who, like myself believe in the mission and movement IC has created. We were pumped, by the end of the meeting i had met some fantastic ladies and we had put together some fantastic ideas. I was ready to do this! Wow IC were finally down under and i was ready to use my voice to help the invisible children of Uganda. I had never felt such pleasure such joy and such heartache at the same time. Being asked to do Radio Media i took on this mission with pride. I wanted to succeed, not for me, for the children of Uganda and of the LRA War. I was again so overwhelmed by the wonderful people i met, such selfless people to give their time and money to those who we have never met, those who are in a complete different country, i was in awe.
So i started emailing and faxing all the media i had been given in the lead up to the event…..10,000 emails later and around 400 faxes later i was pumped. I also started researching Uganda, and came across some interesting facts that made me feel a whole range of emotions from anger to guilt, from empathy to sympathy, from love to hate i was so overwhelmed that one passionate documentary had moved so much inside me. Ive watched documentaries, ive read ugandan newspapers, ive read books, listened to speeches but yet sadly i have never been able to set foot in Uganda. Throughout the month before “The Rescue” i was abuzz with emotions, talking to everyone and anyone i knew about IC. Showing the documentaries, showing the bracelets, sending media clips to PM’s. This war had to have an end, and if they (the governments) would not do it, we would show them they have to do it, we will show them that we care about this situation and we want to see and end to the suffering. How quick a month can go by because suddenly it was the eve of the event…which also happened to be my 29th birthday….whoops i totally forgot it was my birthday, no birthday dinner with family, no cake, i had been so caught up in the Rescue, id totally forgotten myself….oh well..i know what i wanted, all my presents had to be purchased on the invisible children website! I went to bed that night and had never felt so refreshed when i awoke…today was the day we were going to help make history!
9am – 25th April, 2009 i headed out by train to Sydney from Blacktown. With everyone meeting at Milsons Point station – i headed straight for “Fleet Steps” as i was sick and almost hospitalised the week leading up to the event i was told “no walking that far and no outside in the cold” by my doctor…are you kidding??? like i’m missing this for my health!!! Compromise is a bitch…yet it had to be done….no marching….no camping….but i was going to the Event!
Arriving at the fleet steps a few volunteers had already arrived and were starting to set up.
Helping set up with people such as noelle and christina, colin and Katie Bradel and everyone else was like a dream come true….they aint “celebs” as such but in my life they are “hero’s”. The best kind of hero’s ive ever seen. So finally we set up and had some fantastic times trying to get banners to hang from garbage bins etc, and the “abducted” were arriving…..it was beginning. We were all feeling Pumped!
- Sydney Event
The night overall…was the best night id ever had. I went to the Rescue on my own yet i wasn’t alone. With approx 1000 other IC supporters i felt myself becoming “a hero” as well. To watch the youth of sydney so proudly sing “your the voice” with Damien from underbelly was truly amazing…the dancing, chanting and singing was undeniably great and made the event so much more than just a group of people sharing the same ideals and beliefs….it made us whole. We were Rescued By Damien Walshe-Howling and by Sky News Australia and ABC Radio as well as a few independant journalist who took up the media call. Being Anzac Day in Australia it was very hard to compete to get air time for our event, but ultimately we were rescued and received national air time to raise awareness for the cause so that was a great bonus! The atomosphere was amazing, i just cannot express how in awe i was with everyone.
At around 10.30pm we started heading off to Hyde Park Barracks where we were to be camped out for the night. This is where my night had to end. I arrived, walking up with a group and hung around for a little while, purchasing my bag and rescue bracelets, chatting with new friends and IC enthusiasts and just enjoying the lovely mood that was set at the Sydney Rescue! Time to go home…..11.30pm.
So off i went to St James Station to catch the train back to blacktown….home to sleep
Sunday 26th April: Sunrise gave a brief overview about the chanting coming from outside! Sydneysiders from the Rescue had marched to Sunrise Studio’s and parked themselves out the front of the Live Recording room window – Bring Joseph Kony to Justice was all you could see in the window….GOOD ON YA GUYS!!!!
Sky News Australia gave a 7 min interview with Christina and Colin from IC
For the next 3 days i was online watching the live feeds and i had the best time watching….the mission in the US was still going and they needed support….to see Oprah’s live show and the Bobby and IC there was exceptional – Thanks Oprah and Thanks to the dedicated “abducted” who camped out the front of Harpo to get the attention the movement deserves.
Today exactly one month after the event…its not over. The movement is still going hard so so must i…..on June 9th i’ll be giving a speech to the local lions club about IC and what it has done for the people of Northern Uganda in hopes that they can in turn spread the message to other local lions clubs as well.
Invisible children in my life isn’t just a movement, its a way of life for me and my family. We are honored to help, we are honored to say “i support invisible children” and we will be even more honored on the day we can finally say “we helped to end the LRA War in Uganda”
Invisible Children – Thank You for changing my life.
So this is the end of this journal entry, i will be updating my journal in new posts to get up to where we are now in August of 2009.
Thanks for reading My Invisible Children Journal.