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Posted: April 21, 2012 8:14 p.m.

Boy tells escape tale to students

Oxford students take part in effort to stop African war criminal Joseph Kony

Hundreds of students filled the Oxford Chapel Thursday to listen to a single boy speak. But this was no ordinary boy. His name is Santos and he had escaped only a few years ago from the child armies of Ugandan guerilla leader Joseph Kony.

Santos came to Oxford with the organization Invisible Children to speak out about the evils of Kony and what local students can do to stop his reign in Africa.

Kony is the head of the Lord's Resistance Army and, since 1986, has abducted an estimated 66,000 children from Africa and turned them into child sex slaves and soldiers. He is number one on the International Crime Court's most wanted list for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Many people only know the name Kony from the media campaign phenomenon Kony 2012. Videos on YouTube have accumulated around 90 million views worldwide and the campaign has more than 3 million likes on Facebook. It's captured the attention of many celebrities and influential people including George Clooney, Bill Gates and Taylor Swift and pressured many political figures to take action in congress.

Invisible Children's goal was to make Kony famous so that everyone everywhere will know the horror of his actions and, then, with the world working together finally arrest him and free all of the children. The massive support and millions of dollars raised by the campaign proves that they accomplished the famous part. Now, the obstacle lies in finding Kony and stripping him of his power.

Although there have been many controversies surrounding Invisible Children and how they handle donations, the students chose to defend that with just as much passion as they have for the cause.

"There's always going to be someone talking from a different point of view, but I feel good about doing this. Whether or not my money is being spent wisely is not in my control, but what is in my control is me being there," said Yugen Balamohan. "Money will come and go, but you can't put a price on the change this has created."

Hundreds of students watched the two Kony videos shown back to back and then heard the testimony of a Kony survivor. The presentation seemed to connect with everyone in the audience; everyone wanted to do their part and help put an end to Kony.

This event geared students up for Friday's event, "Cover the Night," where students went out into the community performing community service during the day and then covering the town with Kony posters at night. Thousands of volunteers did the same thing in cities all over the world. The goal was that by Saturday morning, everyone will be introduced to Kony.

Oxford student Sagar Vira organized the event, because the movement has been close to his heart since last year before the Kony videos went viral. That passion was shown campus wide by the massive attendance at the Thursday and Friday events.

Invisible Children will cease the Kony campaign on Dec. 31, 2012 in the hopes that Kony will have been arrested by that date. Until then, Oxford College students and thousands of other volunteers will continue to support Kony 2012.

Find more information about Kony or Invisible Children by visiting www.invisiblechildren.com, through Facebook at www.facebook.com/invisiblechildren or through Twitter at @Invisible Children.

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