Concert Aids Education in Ugandan War

By Matthew Trotter

Cal Poly students can attend a free concert to benefit children
in Uganda on Wednesday in the Bronco Student Center at 7 p.m. The
concert will follow a screening of the documentary “Invisible
Children.”

The general public is also welcome to attend for $2 admission.
There will be t-shirts, DVDs and bracelets for sale.

All proceeds will go to Invisible Children, an organization
founded by three San Diego filmmakers to bring to light the
struggles northern Ugandans have faced since the mid-1980s.

Bands Thalon, Tygers of Wrath, and Zion Awaits will perform.
Thalon’s sound is somewhere between Yellowcard and Switchfoot.

Tygers of Wrath have a self-described
progressive/experimental/fusion rock style.

Zion Awaits combines rock, reggae and hip-hop into something
that sounds a little bit like Kottonmouth Kings.

This is a chance for the bands to get exposure and contribute to
a worthy cause at the same time.

“It’s cool when bands do benefits because in addition to seeing
a cool show, you get a chance to make a difference,” said Michael
Schnebeck, bassist for Tygers of Wrath.

Ricky Scott, one of Zion Awaits’ guitar players, said, “If it
came down to taking a paid gig or a benefit show, we’d take the
benefit show.”

Thalon saw “Invisible Children” in December 2006 and the members
knew they had to get involved somehow. This concert was the perfect
chance.

“When we saw the movie it hit a special place in our hearts, and
we just had to do it,” said bass player Jeremy Springer.

The event is the brainchild of ASI BEAT’s Assistant
Service-Learning Chair Brad Penna.

“I really think we should all want to help others that are
unable to help themselves,” said Penna, a first-year zoology
student.

Penna saw the documentary in high school but was unable to get
involved in the movement until he started attending Cal Poly.

When he took a community service class during his first quarter,
the idea of doing a benefit for Invisible Children came to
mind.

From that starting point, a little help from members of BEAT,
Invisible Children, Penna’s roommate, and MySpace has helped make
his idea a reality.

Each of the bands playing the benefit has a page on MySpace.

Penna knew members of Zion Awaits and Tygers of Wrath
previously, but he found Thalon and kept in touch with the other
bands through the site.

Penna did not imagine himself doing anything like organizing
this benefit while at Cal Poly.

“I pictured myself going to class, doing homework and hanging
out with friends,” he said. “I am glad there is more in store for
my future than that.”

The conflict in northern Uganda has been going on for nearly 20
years, according to globalsecurity.org. Jan Egeland, the United
Nations undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, called it the
“biggest forgotten, neglected human emergency in the world.”

Invisible Children estimates that more than 12,000 children have
been abducted and forced to fight for the Lord’s Resistance
Army.

The LRA takes young girls as sex slaves and forces boys to
brutally kill to stay alive.

The LRA’s actions are so heinous the International Criminal
Court in the Netherlands has issued its first arrest warrant for
the group’s leader, Joseph Kony.

Because of the war, most of Uganda’s schools are closed,
according to unicef.org.

The schools that are open are overcrowded with one teacher
sometimes having a class of 300 students.

The United Nations Children’s Fund has found 80 percent of
Ugandans ages 7-18 have never been to school.

Many groups believe education will alleviate some side effects
of the conflict.

“Protection from various forms of neglect, abuse and
exploitation is critical,” said UNICEF Uganda representative Keith
McKenzie in an online statement about the organization’s efforts at
reestablishing the country’s education system.

Matthew Trotter can be reached by e-mail at arts@thepolypost.com
or by phone at (909) 869-3744.

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