NEW YORK – On Saturday, more than 67,000 young activists took to the streets in 15 cities across the U.S., to raise awareness about the plight of refugees in Ugandan displacement camps. The funny thing is, once they were on those streets, they didn’t leave.
Instead, they slept there, in impromptu villages made of cardboard, subsisting only on crackers and water, in a show of support for those displaced by the Ugandan government. And among those 67,000 activists was Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz.
The event was called Displace Me, organized by Invisible Children, a California nonprofit group aimed at providing education and economic opportunities to displaced children in the Central African nation, which for more than two decades has been suffering from a bloody civil war.
And after spending the night in a cardboard city in Southern California, Wentz felt he could do more to raise the profile of Invisible Children, which is why, when MTV News caught up with him at the opening of his new Angels & Kings bar in New York’s East Village – he said Fall Out Boy are going to “put our money where our mouth is.”
“People went and slept out in a little cardboard city … and you could only bring one pack of crackers and a bottle of water. … I don’t feel like we got anywhere near what it’s actually like, but … it was an attempt at empathy,” Wentz said. “So we got the shots [necessary to travel to] Africa, and we’re going to go to Uganda in July. I’m pretty excited, but also a little nervous. I feel like I won’t really understand it until I go there, and I think that there’s no other chance for me to do that.”
Wentz said he hopes the trip to Uganda will also help raise awareness about the conditions there – something he said the U.S. government has thus far been slow to do.
“The craziest thing I learned from working with people at Invisible Children is that if we sent one senior policy advisor to Northern Uganda, the potential for ending the war there [increases],” he explained. “And it hasn’t happened. If everyone writes in to their congressmen, it’s something we can actually do.”
That sentiment is echoed by Invisible Children’s Kenny Laubbacher, who plans on making the trip to Uganda with Fall Out Boy. The organization – which depends on donations to continue operations – already has an office in the country and has made contact with thousands of displaced people. But the upcoming trip will mark the biggest endeavor in IC’s history, one aimed squarely at making both the mainstream media – and our government – pay attention.
“The ultimate goal of Pete and Fall Out Boy going over in July is to raise awareness,” Laubbacher said. “They want to show their support and get real relationships going. To end this war – which, at this point, is Africa’s longest running – we have to put pressure on their government. So hopefully, thanks to the guys in Fall Out Boy going over there, we can get a lot of mainstream attention, which is vital.”
In addition to their trip in July, Fall Out Boy are also welcoming Invisible Children out on the road with them on the Honda Civic Tour, which kicks off May 11 in Denver.