Call To Help Uganda's Forgotten Children

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Editor:

I am 15-year-old Elena Runion. I attend Payson High School, and am involved in Payson First Church of the Nazarene. I have a passion for Uganda, the child soldiers and the horrible crisis going on there.

A war lasting more than 19 years has created a humanitarian disaster leaving generations of children in complete crisis. In 1987, Joseph Koney -- as leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) -- started the movement to overthrow Uganda's government.

Koney creates his army primarily of kidnapped children. After he abducts them, he uses them as soldiers or laborers and, in the case of girls, sexual slaves. The United Nations estimates that 1.3 million Ugandians have been forced from their homes and into displacement camps.

Even worse, parents often feel like they have no other choice but to send their children commuting or walking 10 kilometers every night. They go to larger cities in search of safety in open-air bus parks and hospitals. Estimates report that about 50,000 children commute every night to have some assurance that they'll wake up in the morning.

It breaks not only my heart, but my everything, to know that the only reason they are there, and I am here writing you this letter, is because we were born that way. I didn't get in good with God, didn't pay anyone money, and I know I didn't do anything special. It just happened.

Every time I hear someone, or I catch myself, complaining about school, teachers or chores, it kills me. I wake up every morning after a good night's rest in my warm bed and prepare for my day. Children in Uganda wake up after a night lived out in fear, pick up their paper-thin mat and prepare to walk 10 kilometers home.

We need to start a revolution. I am calling Nov. 2 National Peace for the Children in Uganda Day. I plan to show a documentary called "The Invisible Children" on that day. This movie affected my life in a huge way. For more information about this movie, please contact me.

I am sending this letter out to different organizations, churches, schools and various people around Arizona and California to try and raise as much awareness as possible. If you would like to do something to help Uganda and the child soldiers, I encourage you to go to www.invisiblechildren.com to learn more and to donate to this cause.

Elena Runion, Payson

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