Oct. 19, 2020
Photo courtesy of Julie Baker, one of the Biola students who attended Lobby Days and is currently volunteering with Invisible Children.
On June 22 and 23, 2009, Biola students were among the young crowd lobbying in Washington, D.C. for the bill of the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. Biola students were present in D.C. working towards social justice.
The non-profit organization, Invisible Children, started raising awareness regarding the longest-running war in Africa and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 2003 after three young filmmakers, Invisible Children founders, took a spontaneous trip to Africa in search of a story. Now, after six years, a bill has been introduced to the senate and house floor regarding the issue. Junior film production student, Felicia Heykoop, attended the lobby days with four other Biola students. She first became aware of the situation when she was in junior high.
“My convictions as a seventh grader are still the same — that just because kids were born in other places does not mean they shouldn’t be treated the same way as I was growing up,” said Heykoop. “As Christians we have an even greater incentive because we believe humans have value and we need to start acting like it,” said Heykoop.
Invisible Children’s campaign for this bill, titled “How It Ends,” has enlisted thousands of young Americans to voice their support for this bill in hopes of the war to end and for Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA to be removed from the battlefield. On May 1, 2009 hundreds of men and women, including some Biola students, joined Invisible Children outside Harpo Studios in Chicago, Ill. in hopes of Oprah bringing awareness to the issue at hand. Oprah did give them one minute to talk on her show.
U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Brad Miller (D-NC) and Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced legislation to help end the reign of terror conducted by the LRA in northern Uganda and neighboring countries. According to the How It Ends website, “the bill not only sets a plan for ending the war but outlines the need for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the war affected regions.”
Heykoop said although the bill will take time to pass, those who attended the event were encouraged by the positive response from senators and congressman on the day of lobbying. By the closing ceremony on June 23 eight senators and 12 congressmen had already signed the bill since their constituents had spoken with them earlier in the day.
If the bill is passed, United States President Barack Obama will have 180 days to create a strategy to remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield, and to disarm and demobilize Lord’s Resistance Army fighters.
Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
media [dot] relations [at] biola [dot] edu