For three years, Oakville High School alum Ronnie Barge has dedicated himself (and his time, energy and spray paint) to a cause far from his home but close to his heart: promoting peace in war-torn Uganda.
Tonight, Barge and a band of students from Oakville High are screening the documentary Invisible Children about the Ugandan conflict, its effect on children and what neighbors here in Mehlville and Oakville can do to help.
“I want people to be there for a global cause, to open their eyes to what is going on in the world,” Barge said.
Barge, a 2011 graduate from Oakville and a student at Meramec Community College, first saw the documentary as a junior in high school. While he found the film’s message to be powerful, he said he was most impacted by the reactions of large crowd around him.
“It was so overwhelming seeing so many people there for one cause in solidarity,” Barge said. “It really inspired me to find out more about the cause.”
Since then, Barge has hosted his own screenings, drawing as many as 200 people at a time. In high school, Barge even spray-painted t-shirts to sell and used the proceeds to buy food for viewers.
The documentary, which tells the story of the children who flee their homes at night to avoid being kidnapped or attacked by a rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army, is an emotional, powerful film.
“It’s a very eye-opening documentary,” Barge said. “You get to cry with the person next to you. It’s a time and place when you can let everything out.”
A Ugandan man, Geoffrey Ochen, will also come to the screening to answer the audiences’ questions after the film.
“I’m just trying to plant seeds,” Barge said. “I want people to look at global issues.”
The screening starts at 3 p.m. on October 4 at Oakville High School.