A crazy place, a crazy experience. Here’s what happened to me:

I was nearly stabbed in the foot by a massive stick that went straight through my shoe;

We ran over and killed a dog on the Kampala Gulu Road on our way north;

I thought I was going to be raped by a boda boda driver in Gulu;

I was close to being arrested by the Ugandan Police for filming at a ceremony where the President of Uganda was present at;

I almost died in a car accident in Pader, where we rolled 3 times after hitting a massive pot hole &

I was almost attacked after being chased by a huge baboon near Karuma Falls….

Let’s hope my last week in Uganda is a bit on the safer side (but somehow I doubt it will be!)

For more regular updates please follow me on facebook: www.facebook.com/childtroopers

PEACE!

Ugandan districts affected by Lords Resistance...
Image via Wikipedia

Well it has been an amazing first week in the Pearl of Africa! We spent 6 days in Kampala meeting up with friends and contacts from political and humanitarian roots, while also awaiting the arrival of our container full of bikes from Australia.

A few days in we went to the DAMCO office in Kampala to find out what was happening with our bikes and found out there had been a problem at customs with our mattresses and mobile ambulances.
We got the the required papers arranged to clear the container in Mombasa, and were told that we had to wait for a truck to become available, and 4 days on from that call, we are still waiting for a truck to become available!!

We spent a few days meeting with organisation’s that work with orphans and slum communities in the Kampala region, including Hope Restoration Ministry in Jinja and AFFCAD in Bwaise. We will be delivering bikes to both groups when the container arrives, hopefully by next week!

We were chewing into our time north while waiting for the bikes so decided to travel to Gulu, the biggest town in Northern Uganda. We first had a meting with the President of the Uganda people’s Congress (UPC) Doctor Olara Otunnu. By the time the interview ended it was almost 4pm, and traveling to the north is not advised at night time. However we had people waiting for us so we decided to go anyway!

We made it to Gulu safe and sound, thanks to our top driver Charles… We had some close encounters with trucks and saw the Presidential Convoy thrash by. We also ran over a dog which was terrible. It shocked the whole crew, and we arrived close to 11pm in Gulu in quite a sombre state.

I woke up today with the phone going crazy, emails and facebook all maxed out with stories about Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lords’ Resistance Army). Invisible Children have supposedly launched one of the biggest social media / viral marketing campaigns of all time. Interesting that we are here half an hour from Joseph Kony’s home town and at the centre of where all the worst atrocities took place, yet we have heard no one at all talking about it…!?

Today is International Women’s Day and we are going to celebrate with the Gulu community. After that we will continue our work on the ground, helping communities affected by the war and interviewing people about issues relating the the other side of the coin…  Every story has two sides after all!

LRA Watch

The internet has exploded with the new campaign from Invisible Children: Kony 2012.

The video has gone viral, with celebrities from Stephen Fry to Rihanna tweeting about it.

The new campaign wants to see Joseph Kony, the LRA leader, made ‘famous’ – or rather, infamous.

Invisible Children want to make Kony a household name to raise awareness of his crimes.

The main aim is to put pressure on the US government to keep up its pursuit of the LRA leader.

Few could argue that they have succeeded in making Kony famous – the video has been viewed millions of times since its release around 48 hours ago.

Amid the publicity however, has been some stark criticism of Invisible Children.

How Matters criticise the group for portraying the conflict as ‘good guys’ versus ‘bad guys’ in the filmmaker’s explanation of the situation to his 3-year-old son.

Eric Ritskes complains that…

View original post 509 more words

On the 28th of February our crew is heading back to Uganda, and this time we are also hoping to make it to Eastern DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo)- closer to current LRA rebel activity.

We will be spending 5 weeks on the continent, completing the last stages of filming for our feature documentary Child Troopers, which has now been 3 years in the making. This time we are returning with a new all Australian team, together with Bikes 4 Life volunteers from Melbourne, as well as our local crew on the ground in Uganda. We will also be distributing bicycles to remote war-affected communities (see: www.bikes4life.com.au).

One of the our latest additions to the team is one of Australia’s finest cinematographers, Mr Marcus Dineen. Marcus is flying in from Sweden to work with us and shoot some beautiful footage for our film. Very excited to have Marcus working on Child Troopers with us!

Further to that excitement, I am very pleased to announce that Sabina Paisa, associate producer of Child Troopers, will also be traveling with us to Africa at the end of the month! It was a last-minute decision, made possible by one of latest EP’s, Michael Schmidt. We cannot thank Michael enough for being such a great support and huge part of this production!

Keep checking this site as we will post updates as soon as we are on the ground and have access to the internet! But basically, while away we will be working with kids and community groups in the capital city (Kampala), traveling out to slums on the outskirts of the city and getting some projects assessed for future partnerships with Bikes 4 Life… then we will be heading north towards South Sudan, to a place called Pader where we will be working with former child soldiers and victims of the war. Further to that, while in the north, we will be distributing bicycles to people in remote villages and camps, setting up a bike education and vocational training centre at Friends of Orphans in Pader and filming the Bikes  4 Life journey and Child Troopers documentary at the same time!

Our 5 week East and Central African expedition is going to be quite an adventure so make sure you follow us online, via Facebook or Twitter and see what we get up to!

Wish us luck on our journey…. We look forward to sharing our experience with you  and thank you for your support!

If you are in Melbourne, please come down to our farewell event, UGANDA BOUND at the Half Moon in Church Street Brighton on Sunday the 26th of February.

See: www.bikes4life.com.au for more info!

Child Troopers - The Art of Linda Zacks

Forest Whitaker Says He’s Got 3 Projects He Plans To Direct; One Dealing With Uganda’s Child Soldiers | Filmmakers, Film Industry, Film Festivals, Awards & Movie Reviews | indieWIRE.

Whitaker as General Idi Amin in The Last King ...
Forest Whitaker as General Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland

Forest Whitaker has a number of films he plans to direct, one of particular interest is ‘Better Angel’s’. Better Angels is a film close to Whitaker’s heart and focuses on the child soldiers of Northern Uganda. In 2007 Whitaker won an academy award for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland.

Pre-production for his film is expected to begin in April of this year, and Child Troopers director Ebony Butler, is hoping to be involved with the making of the film.

Better Angels, although a fiction film, has many similarities with our documentary Child Troopers. Both have common themes based on events and situations that arose from the LRA conflict, that has seen over 30,000 children abducted and forced to become child soldiers.

It will be interesting to see how Better Angels will portray the war, as recent films and documentaries that center on the LRA and the topical issue of child soldiers have been rather skewed and few, if any, have gone deep enough to find the true causes and possible solutions to the ongoing conflict.

WOW what an amazing day we have had!

With many thanks to all involved, and special thanks to Visa Global for the shipping and management, Ex-Pat Deli for the container, Nick & co for the Graffiti and art, John Wells & co at Independent Color for the stickers (logo’s) and Bunnings Port Melbourne for the new equipment…!

Our awesome graffiti artists started yesterday at Visa in Yarraville, and spent the whole day painting the container, which when in Africa will become a bike workshop for former child soldiers.

(more…)

atanga.pader.ugandaWar affected communities in Northern Uganda are experiencing an outbreak of the mysterious ‘nodding disease‘ or ‘nodding syndrome’.

Thousands of children have been affected across the north of Uganda, in Pader, Kitgum and Gulu. In Pader alone 66 children have died from the disease.

Nodding Disease is said to have links with River Blindness, a condition that affects some 18 million people, mainly in Africa. The disease first emerged in Sudan in the 1980’s and is also believed to be associated with epilepsy. The disease affects children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 15.

MP’s across the region are calling on the government to respond to this fatal illness, with threats to ferry thousands of children to the Mulago hospital for special treatment.

It is with pleasure and great excitement that I announce Bikes 4 Life’s newest sponsor, Visa Global Logistics.

Visa Global came on board with Bikes 4 Life after their marketing manager, Joe Cetin, saw the segment on The Project on Channel 10 just a few weeks ago.

Visa Global Logistics

Australian owned company, Visa Global Logistics is now Bikes 4 Life’s official shipping sponsor, who will oversee the first shipment of bikes to Africa, scheduled to leave Melbourne on the 11th of January 2012.

In February, the Bikes 4 Life and Child Troopers crew will be setting up a Bikes 4 Life Workshop and Vocational Training Program in Uganda, at our partner organization and child soldier rehabilitation center, Friends of Orphans. The 40 foot shipping container donated by Ex-Pat Deli and decked out by ANL, will become the actual workshop in Pader, Northern Uganda at the Friends of Orphans site.

Our container packed and almost ready to go!!

The program is aimed at not only assisting in the rehabilitation and re-integration efforts at FRO, for the hundreds of young traumatized victims and former child soldiers of a brutal civil war, but it is also aimed at giving them an opportunity to learn practical and useful skills that can help in securing employment in the future. Furthermore, Bikes 4 Life aims to provide each person at the center with their own bicycle, so they can visit their families without walking for days, giving them the ability provide for their families when they return home to their villages after rehabilitation, allowing faster and easier access to food, water and access education & medical facilities, giving them a real chance at overcoming the traumas of their past and getting ahead in life- against all the odds.

Alfa and Christine off to visit their families with the bikes we sent them for Easter!

On behalf of the Bikes 4 Life Team and the Child Troopers Crew, thank you Visa Global – for making all of this possible and for helping us to help others….

Merry Christmas!

This photographs below were taken during our last trip to Northern Uganda.

They will be among a number of photographs and memorabilia on auction this Saturday December 17 at ‘A Rockin’ Great Christmas Party’, at the Memo Theatre in St. Kilda.

The event is open to the public and all proceeds on the night will be donated to our Child Soldier Media & Awareness Campaign.

We hope you can make it to the event in support of our work and also to enjoy a Christmas drink with us before we head back to Africa in the new year!

Many thanks, and Merry Christmas to all. PEACE!

Child of God
Kids of the Camps
Sweet Child O' Mine
Smiling Through The Sorrow

Follow us us on facebook at: www.facebook.com/childtroopers or check out our Bikes 4 Life project at www.bikes4life.com.au

For event details see: https://www.facebook.com/events/105945526186474/

To view or purchase a photograph from our Ugandan or Cambodian Selection please e-mail ebony@atlanticstarproductions.com.

The wonderful organizers of this event are donating all proceeds to Child Troopers, so come on down and enjoy Christmas with us. Will be a rockin’ great night! THANKS MELBOURNE MUSO’s for not only your music, but your kind and generous support!