That's because nighttime in northern Uganda is when the rebel soldiers of the Lord's Resistance Army, labeled a terrorist group by the United States, storm small villages and rip children from their homes, forcing them to join the rebel army. Those who resist are brutally beaten into submission, tortured or killed in front of their families. Some are also forced to beat their own parents and commit unspeakable acts of violence. Many of the soldiers are just children themselves.
To avoid these nighttime horrors, thousands of Ugandan children leave their parents and their homes every evening and trek in the darkness in packs to larger nearby towns where they sleep for the night. They sleep, stacked body-to-body, at bus parks and in empty hospital basements—yet, space is limited and sometimes they must scramble to find a spot. In the morning, the children walk back to their homes and to school, only to repeat the ritual walk each time the sun goes down.
This is what Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole saw when they traveled to Uganda in 2003. The "nightwalkers," as they called them, were young, innocent and desperate for help. Child after child told their heartbreaking stories. The three young men—just college students at the time—recorded everything they saw and turned it into a haunting documentary called Invisible Children.
Meet the young men behind the mission
What started out as a college adventure turned into a massive global movement. In 2009, Jason, Bobby, Laren and hundreds of their supporters gathered outside of Harpo Studios to get Oprah's attention as well—and they got it.
"I must say, I applaud you three guys," Oprah told them. "It just shows what an individual or individuals can do, can start a movement for change."
Since creating the documentary Invisible Children, the three young men founded an organization by the same name, which has raised more then $33 million for its cause.
Watch the three young men describe what life is life for the nightwalkers in Uganda today
With the bloody civil war still not over, Jason, Bobby and Laren are not slowing down—and they are asking everyone to join them. On April 25, Invisible Children is getting loud...by shutting up. They are asking people to stay silent for 25 hours and raise $25 to help end this 25-year-long war.
"We have the power right now to do something," Jason says. "We believe that this year is the year the war's coming to an end."
Find out how you can help Invisible Children make real changes through the 25 Campaign