There’s an event going on in downtown Toronto today called The Rescue, in support of the charity Invisible Children.
More than 1,000 people are expected to assemble in Toronto — just a fraction of the thousands who will gather in 100 cities around the world to “abduct” themselves and await “release” from local politicians and government representatives.
This symbolic effort is being organized to bring attention to the plight of the children of northern Uganda, who have either been abducted by the rebel army or suffered other horrific consequences of Africa’s longest-running war.
I wasn’t able to attend The Rescue event, so instead I signed up for the Invisible Children Bracelet Campaign.
A bracelet that comes full circle
As their website explains: “The bracelets are handmade from reed and recycled wire, and then packaged with a short film that tells the story of a child affected by the war…. As a result of this war, millions of people in northern Uganda have been forced into camps … and must now rely on the insufficient rations of the international aid community.
“Invisible Children staff work together with community leaders to identify the most vulnerable people in a chosen camp…. Those chosen are trained in bracelet making and supplied weekly with the necessary materials.
“On average, each bracelet maker creates between 50 and 60 bracelets per week, earning a generous salary from each bracelet they make….
The Invisible Children Savings and Investment Training Initiative (SITI) allows a sustainable source of income for beneficiaries, enabling them to care for themselves and their families long after the Bracelet Campaign has ended.”
I purchased a green “Grace” bracelet.
Here is Grace’s story:
Grace was abducted by the Resistance Army when she was only 10 years old. At 14, she was forced to be a sex slave for a rebel commander almost 40 years older.
By the time she was 16, she managed to escape from the bush, only to find out that she was pregnant. Her father was killed during the height of the conflict, and her mother got an infection in her feet leaving her unable to walk. Yet Grace feels that her life is better than what it was before Invisible Children’s involvement.
“I am doing well. My sister now has schooling, we have housing, and there are not so many challenges today,” she says.
Now 20 years old, Grace is living in Pece, Gulu District and working as a bracelet maker for the Bracelet Campaign. She was happily married in 2007 and has a healthy and beautiful two and a half-year-old baby girl, Opoyo Rwot (“Thank God”).
Grace hopes to take the knowledge that she has gained from completing IC’s Savings and Investment Curriculum Initiative training (SITI, a program intended for all bracelet makers and their spouses to benefit from) and establish her own business.
P.S. Here’s a look at the three young filmmakers who started this amazing project!