Friday, April 27, 2007

Boise's "Invisible Children"

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

If you see a herd of local children walking from Hillside Junior High to Anser Charter School Saturday night, looking like refugees, you've just gotten the point.

Sammi Cronk, a 13-year-old Anser student, says the idea to re-create the Ugandan refugee experience came from her school's study of African issues this year.

In particular, Cronk and her friends were inspired by the documentary Invisible Children, about displaced children in Uganda who are often kidnapped, then pressed into service as child warriors.

The idea of re-creating a refugee march came from the film, which describes how kids in that country make a nightly walk, for several miles, with only a blanket and some water, to sleep in a protected area.

"Otherwise, they're afraid that the rebels will abduct them," Cronk said.

Saturday's effort is part of a national "Displace Me Night." Students have been collecting sponsorships to help send money to help students in Uganda. For every $300 the effort raises, Cronk said, they can help to send a child to school for a year. Their goal is to sponsor between four and six children this year.

Cronk expects about 70 people on the walk, which will have several chaperones.

Similar events will take place in Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and Phoenix.

Once they finish their walk to Anser, the students will sleep with only the things they carried: a blanket, some water, and a book.

"Those kids don't have pads," Cronk said. "They pretty much have a sheet, water, and that's it."

As part of their African studies, Cronk has also built a model of an African drum, and has been learning to play it. She said the experience has inspired her to want to travel to Africa some day.

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