June 21, 1998
LRA rebels raided Lamwolode, Uganda, and brutally kidnapped a ten-year-old boy named Opondo. He was stolen from his family, forced to kill innocent civilians, and brainwashed into believing that escape was impossible.
15 years later, while listening to an Invisible Children sponsored program on UBC Shortwave radio, Opondo overheard former LRA member Ociti Doctor call him out by name. Ociti urged him to safely surrender and provided reassurance that he would not be harmed if he did.
In May, a group of hunters ran into a group of LRA near where Opondo was located. The group of LRA were not aggressive or violent, and immediately fled. Later that day, a letter was found by the road from the LRA group stating they wanted to surrender. Invisible Children heard about the letter and took immediate action by rallying supporters to donate to a Flash Action Alert. In just over 48 hours, we were able to raise enough to drop 20,000 “come home” fliers over the area near Garamba National Park where the group was suspected to be hiding.
July 31, 2013
Opondo came across one of these fliers and kept it with him for several months. However, despite Ociti’s encouragement and the flier’s instructions he remained fearful of escaping. On Jul 31st, Major Odano – the leader of LRA groups in Garamba Natioal Park – exchanged fire with a group of local hunters and was killed as a result.
Two women and two children were rescued from the LRA in the process.
Invisible Children broadcast the news of Odano’s death through UBC shortwave and other local radio stations. US advisors flew over Garamba National Park broadcasting the news through loud speakers. Opondo heard these messages and realized that with his commander no longer alive, he could finally escape.
August 21, 2013
On August 21, Opondo, now 25, came out of the bush and surrendered to UN peacekeepers and Congolese security forces holding both a flier and his shortwave radio in his hands. After debriefing Opondo, US advisors discovered that Opondo was the author of the letter written in May.
Soon he will be reunited with his family.
The Next Step
For the first time in 15 years, Opondo is free from the LRA. Other members in Opondo’s group want to escape, but they are afraid. We can assure them that it’s safe by producing fliers with Opondo’s recent photo and instructions for surrendering. Help us raise $30,000 so that we can air-drop 30,000 fliers.
Help us give Opondo’s friends every opportunity to surrender.