For Nate “Oteka” Henn: Can a Story Change the World?

July 12, 2010 at 9:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Several years ago, I saw this photograph on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The show was about the humanitarian crisis in the East African country of Uganda. The image of the boys behind the cage were reminiscent similar images I had seen of the Holocaust.

Darfur Nightwalkers: Mixed media panel with removable brooch

Moved by this image, I wanted to create a piece that would help raise awareness. I contacted Invisible Children, the San Diego based organization responsible for this photograph, to see if I could somehow incorporate this image in my work. They not only agreed to help me, but shared over 70 images with me “where children are both the weapons and the victims”.

In the spring of 2003, three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them.

After returning to the States, they created the documentary Invisible Children: Rough Cut, a film that exposes the tragic realities of northern Uganda’s night commuters and child soldiers. Soon after screening the film for family and friends, what started out as a movie became a movement, and the boys started the non-profit, Invisible Children, Inc.

According to the Invisible Children website, “Our approach to humanitarian work is founded in the strength and intelligence of the Ugandan community. We learned early on it was not only important but essential to heed the wisdom of people that had not only lived in the war, but were surviving it. People who would know better than anyone what the greatest needs were and the best ways to meet them. What we came to find is that while there have been many efforts to address the issues that stem from living and fighting in such a long-lasting war, the people of Uganda are asking for a future beyond the conflict.”

“All of our programming is a partnership between those of us at Invisible Children and those in the Ugandan community. We focus on long-term goals that enable children to take responsibility for their future and the future of their country. Our programs are carefully researched and developed initiatives that address the need for quality education, mentorships, the redevelopment of schools, resettlement from the camps, and financial stability.”

Yesterday, Raleigh native and Invisible Children volunteer Nate Henn was killed in a terrorist attack in Kampala. Henn, given the name “Oteka” or “the strong one” by some of the Ugandan students he worked with, was killed in the explosion that ripped through a rugby field where hundreds of people had gathered to watch the final match of the World Cup. 

“Nate worked with us at Invisible Children for a year and a half and leaves behind a legacy of honor, integrity, and service. From traveling the United States without pay advocating for the freedom of abducted child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s war, to raising thousands of dollars to put war-affected Ugandan students in school, Nate lived a life that demanded explanation. He sacrificed his comfort to live in the humble service of God and of a better world, and his is a life to be emulated.” [Invisible Children Blog, July 11, 2010]

Darfur Nightwalkers Brooch

The Invisible Children organization continues to serve the children of Uganda through its Legacy Scholarship Program, Schools for Schools Program, Bracelet Campaign, Teacher Exchange Program, and MEND, a sophisticated, competitive, and internationally inspired brand catering to style and function. Most recently, Invisible Children partnered with Charity: Water  by using $100,000 to fund water projects in Haiti.

“As a non-profit we work to transform apathy into activism. By documenting the lives of those living in regions of conflict and injustice, we hope to educate and inspire individuals in the Western world to use their unique voice for change. Our media creates an opportunity for people to become part of a grassroots movement that intelligently responds to what’s happening in the world.” [Invisiblechildren.com]

Advertisements

2 Comments

  1. World Wide News Flash said,

    For Nate ?Oteka? Henn: Can a Story Change the World? « Only Lauren…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    Like

  2. Cherie said,

    According to the Invisible Children website, “Our approach to humanitarian work is founded in the strength and intelligence of the Ugandan community. We learned early on it was not only important but essential to heed the wisdom of people that had not only lived in the war, but were surviving it. People who would know better than anyone what the greatest needs were and the best ways to meet them. What we came to find is that while there have been many efforts to address the issues that stem from living and fighting in such a long-lasting war, the people of Uganda are asking for a future beyond the conflict.”
    +1

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: