Tuesday, May 22, 2007

LR Film Fest - Sunday

My friend Cari is in town for a few months. I’ve known Cari since 2001, and she has been traveling back and forth to Uganda for as long as I’ve known her with the goal of establishing a children’s home. About two years ago, Cari moved to Kampala and this is her second trip back to the States. She is teaching English at a boys’ home, to women in a slum, to Congolese refugee children and to families that have fled the war in Northern Uganda (she’s a multi-tasker).

Before leaving for Arkansas, Cari received word that she had been approved to begin working on setting up a non-profit that will help her to start a school and sponsor more children with school fees. She already sponsors several girls ($35 dollars a month takes care of their schooling, housing, nutritional and general care needs), but since she depends on sponsorship herself there is only so much she can do. There is still a lot of legal paperwork – she has only been approved to begin the process, the non-profit itself still has to be approved – but this is good news, indeed.

So Cari is in town, and Sunday night’s final film was a documentary filmed in Northern Uganda entitled
War Dance. *Warning* this film will make you want to sell everything you own to care for these families. On second thought, ignore the warning and go see the film. The first time I saw Hotel Rwanda and Invisible Children were with Cari, as well… you’d think I’d learn that these movies are harder with her by my side! (Luckily she wasn’t around for Blood Diamond).

War Dance is not filmed in a pure documentary style. A large amount of the filming consists of the children telling their own back stories with creatively dramatic screen shots that draw you into their eyes and their pain. But War Dance is not all about the pain – and there is plenty of it, and it is horrific – it is primarily about hope. The children have won the opportunity to represent their tribe, Acholi, in the national music competition. One of the most important parts of the competition for them is to perform a traditional tribal dance. When the children speak of singing, dancing and playing instruments their voices ring with joy. When they are singing, dancing and playing instruments the children’s eyes shine. Performing their dance together gives them pride. Music gives them hope.

Saturday, we celebrated my friend Pauline’s college graduation. Her mother flew in from Kenya and her cousin from California. My friend Miriam, who is also Kenyan, was there as well as my friend Blaine from Cameroon. There was much discussion around the dinner table about tribal customs and traditions – primarily because we have also received the news that Cari will be getting married in December and her fiancé is from Kenya. Listening to my friends discuss the importance of one’s tribe on Saturday really helped to accentuate the importance of these children, who had lost so much, being given the opportunity to represent their Acholi tribe to all of Uganda.

One of the girls mentions in the film that this is the way people think everyone in Africa lives, but this is not the way everyone in Africa lives. I think of my friends who are from African nations, and I know that is not how they live. I think of what my reaction would be if they were back home and I heard that the same thing was going on in their city. Would I still be so complacent?

Go see this documentary. Learn about what is going on in Uganda. Pray for Cari and for the children and adults and churches she is working with. And if you feel so led to send some money her way, let me know and I can give you the info (after all, you’ll have plenty to give after you sell everything you own, right?).

No comments: