Eliza Dushku Fights on Behalf of Child Soldiers
Joseph Kony. The name went viral in a matter of hours, but days later how many of us still think of him? For 30,000 Ugandan child soldiers he's a monster. The kind that many of us only see in our nightmares, but whereas we have the sweet escape of waking—these children have no out.
Every day they live a hellish reality that consists of brutality and death.
“Bring It On” star Eliza Dushku, along with her mother Judy Dushku, are working to change this, to give hope, and to give back the sense of self-worth that for many has been stamped out. Judy is the founder of THARCE-Gulu (Trauma Healing And Reflection Center), an organization that looks to restore a sense of normalcy for the inhabitants of Gulu District in northern Uganda.
Their mission is to assist survivors in healing from the traumatic events of war, sexual enslavement, extreme poverty and lost opportunities.
Judy described that on a past visit to the war-stricken area there was an overwhelming request to learn. “Everyone we asked said, ‘We need more schooling. We need to tell our stories and let the world know what we have been through and that we can be “normal” people if we can talk and write,’” she recounted.
According to Eliza, a sense of trust was built as the young kids opened up and talked. “They did not talk freely or easily, but shyly and with some hesitancy,” the actress stated. She revealed that a shocking discovery was the number of female child soldiers. In a group of 10, all but two were teenaged girls.
A particular chilling account comes from Rose, now a young woman, who at the age of 10 or 11 became Kony’s wife. She told Eliza he was “a big man” and sometimes he was kind, but also had “rage and often kicked or beat her. ” The teen shared that she saw Kony and others cut people into pieces—she was forced to also do this to her friends that were deemed “uncooperative.”
“They had unbelievable stories to tell about what they had been through after being kidnaped and taken ‘to the bush to fight.’ We were blown away by their stories,” said Eliza, about speaking with these young people.
Both women say that their lives have changed since visiting Gulu and despite not being the United Nations, they can provide this: a sense of companionship, respect, and participation with others who understand and care.
In regards to whether celebrities have an obligation to do good, Eliza says she admires what some of the major celebs are doing in the world.
“But the more important truth is that every advocate for justice is a celebrity. There are just not yet enough of us,” she stated. “So, it is not so much that we are fulfilling an obligation. We are doing what our hearts call us to do, and encouraging others to follow their hearts is part of that.”
What can you do?