Lobbying For Uganda

(Mariana Blanco, Invisible Children’s filmmaker and editor, joined 1,000 young Americans to lobby Congress on the crisis in Northern Uganda.)
I had never been to lobby in DC before, and now that its been a few weeks, the best way I can describe the Northern Uganda Lobby Days is in familiar terms–it was like a film, I think Rocky: Day one was the training montage; day two the fight on Capitol Hill, the fight to get our voice heard. I am a filmmaker for Invisible Children, and the world on Capitol Hill always struck me as cryptic and intimidating; but for two days at the end of March, I met person after person, sincerely excited to be involved in our effort.

Let’s skip to action. On day two, 800 individuals met with more than 200 staffers and Congressmen, making it one of the largest lobbying groups for Africa. I started the day surrounded by mostly young students in suits, practicing their speeches. There was urgency in the air – the LRA and the Ugandan government had made significant steps toward peace just days before. The day suddenly became weighted and relevant.

It was my job to stay near the action.I filmed Pete Wentz discuss his trip to northern Uganda, as well as students who had traveled to the area last summer. They are part of Invisible Children’s Schools for Schools program, and I am currently working on a documentary to tell their powerful story. These students have raised over three million dollars to rebuild schools in northern Uganda, and coming to DC is a big part of their activism. From behind the camera, I couldn’t help but notice the beginning of change, not only for our friends a world away, but also for us.

People may misperceive what our country is about, but I see a generation of idealists, working together to fight for freedom and justice. Hopefully, when the larger story is told, America will be about the little people – young and old, famous and shy – doing something great: giving opportunity to those in need.

-Mariana Blanco

Photos
-Mariana Blanco, fourth from left, with Schools for Schools students in front of the White House. This program has raised more than $3 million in one year for war-torn schools in northern Uganda.
-Mariana Blanco filming two students involved with Invisible Children at the U.S. Capital. She is currently working on a documentary film that tells their story.
-Pete Wentz, bassist from Fall Out Boy, has been involved with Invisible Children for over a year. He joined 800 people in Washington, DC to lobby for peace in northern Uganda.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Fairchild Conrad