JMU Focuses Week of Education on Plight of Ugandan Child Soldiers

From: Public Affairs

February 13, 2008

HARRISONBURG James Madison University student and alumni organizations are spearheading a campus campaign to raise awareness about the desperate lives of child soldiers in the eastern Africa nation of Uganda.

Uganda Child Soldier Awareness Week, Feb. 16-22, will feature talks by former child soldier Grace Akallo and activists who are assisting former child soldiers as they heal from their ordeals.

Sarita Hartz, director of Zion Project and a 2002 graduate of JMU, is returning to her alma mater to assist students and the University Program Board in sponsoring the awareness week. Hartz traveled to Uganda in 2006 and witnessed the disease, starvation and desperation endured by people forced to live in crowded camps because of 20 years of war.

Hartz established Zion Project, a Christian, nonprofit organization that provides care for girls who have escaped their forced fighting.

A complete schedule of Uganda Child Soldier Awareness Week events follows:

Saturday, Feb. 16
"Through Her Eyes" exhibition of photographs taken by child soldiers with cameras given to them by Zion Project founder Sarita Hartz; proceeds from the sale of photos will benefit Zion Project and the girls they support
7-9 p.m., Prism Gallery, lower level, Festival Conference and Student Center

Monday, Feb. 18
"Uganda Rising," a film that tells the story of Uganda, her stolen children and their fight to be free
7 p.m., Room 2105, Harrison Hall

Tuesday, Feb. 19
Former child soldier Grace Akallo and peace negotiator Betty Bigombe speak
7 p.m., Wilson Hall Auditorium

Wednesday, Feb. 20
Question-and-answer session with Grace Akallo and American activist Faith McDonnell about Akallo's experiences and Uganda
5:30 p.m., Taylor Down Under, Taylor Hall

Friday, Feb. 22
Benefit Concert featuring Electric Pool Party, with all donations benefiting Zion Project
7:30 p.m., Taylor Down Under, Taylor Hall

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