Be the Cause

“I don’t want coins, I want change!”

April 28,2007 marked the day of a journey.   A journey that would take me and my two favorite people to a feeling of displacement.  We really did not know what to expect or what we were going to see.  But we went with clear minds and good hearts. 

Invisible Children is an amazing organization that I have grown to respect and love for their movement towards creating a better Africa by leveraging the single most influential group of our time—the youth! This demonstration/gathering was held to raise awareness about the 20 year war that has been raging in Uganda that has cost thousands of lives and exploited young children.  Currently, the Ugandan government has forced people out of their villages and placed them in displacement camps in an effort to protect them from  guerrilla attacks.  Unfortunately, this program has failed as the camps do not provide adequate food, water, sanitation, or shelter.  Families are dying in even greater numbers as they just have nowhere to go—they are IDP, or internally displaced people. 

“Displace Me” was an effort to best simulate this situation.  We were to spend the night in an open field, with only 1 bottle of water, a box of crackers, and cardboard for shelter.  Lucky for all 6000+ attendees, we had access to 40 port-a-potties.  In Uganda, 40,000 people share 3 toilets. 

So off the three of us went, hoping for the best.  As soon as we got to this field, we were floored by the number of young people there—high school and college kids just PUMPED with energy.  Not only did they bring their energy, but they oozed creativity.  Cardboard tents soon became Victorian houses and castles, all with doggie doors and bathrooms included.  Artwork spilled onto the outside of the houses, pleading for peace and asking for a better tomorrow.  We had no choice but to appreciate how these kids, who would probably rather be at the movies, at the beach, or partying, chose to be there.  For whatever reason, they connected with the kids in Uganda.  They genuinely believed they could make a difference.  What a powerful concept for them to show us, and what an amazing vibe for us to soak in. 

As the day progressed, the IC crew did some filming to show on the senate floor.  Talks were already under way at the White House and this was just another great way to plead to our politicians.  They shot a few scenes multiple times but it was hilarious as it required everyone to throw up LA signs, hold hands and run across a grassy field, and SCREAM.  This, in my opinion, was a great way for us to connect with our fellow displaced compatriots. 

Soon, we were hearing some amazing speeches from people who have or had direct experiences with IC’s work in Uganda.  Most inspiring was a mother who spoke of her son who was a humanitarian and activist.  He was killed along the way, but his journal and words live on forever.  We sat there and absorbed all the hope, and by the end of it, we were brimming with compassion and passion for finding the end to this war. 

As nightfall approached, the IC team had us do different activities—like watch videos from
Uganda and write letters to our senator.  My favorite activity was the silence.  Twenty minutes of just silence for our kindred families across the world.  Imagine 6000 silent kids in an open air field.  That moment is what made this whole event real.  In that twenty minutes we were able to put everything in perspective—we listened to our breathing and we reflected collectively.  As a group, the strength in numbers was so apparent.  We inhaled taking in the words of the speakers, and exhaled letting out breaths of fresh air filled with love.  And maybe, in that 20 minutes, 6000 Ugandan children across the world felt something.  Maybe they felt the wind blow a little harder or maybe they had a momentary connection or feeling of peace.  Whatever it was, there was something great happening. 

Dinner came in the form of saltine crackers and water.  Now let me tell you, when you are with your favorite people, crackers and water might be the best meal ever.  We laughed, we danced, we sang, we simply enjoyed what we had. 

As the festivities came to a close, the night ended for some.  It only began as an even greater dance party for most.  As if they were long lost friends with only one night to spend before parting, the teens had a blast.  For us oldies, we called it a night and cozied up in our cardboard shelter.  

And as the sun rose the following morning, looking glorious and reminding us that another day had dawned, we packed up, destroyed our shelter, and headed home. 

But we left with a sense of accomplishment.  We had completed our journey from start to finish and had given it our best.  Whether we really felt what it was like to be a displaced person was definitely questionable, but we realized that it was not even about that.  It was about knowing that we have the ability to be the change we wish to see in the world.  As the war wages in
Uganda, we too are waging a war.  A peace war that is slowly taking over the world and saving humanity one human connection at a time.  Until then, we just keep dancing….


  • Gianna

    I love how you wrote this: “A peace war that is slowly taking over the world an saving humanity one human connection at a time. Until then, we just keep dancing…”

    Thanks for your awesome insights!

  • Madhavi

    my wise, compassionate and passionate shwe. you kids never cease to amaze me.

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