As Zach McKinley sat in world cultures class last year watching a documentary film about the young children in Uganda forced to fight in Africa’s historically long war, he was shocked and troubled.  This led to motivation to do something.

Three young filmmakers from California created the film, “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” the news of children being ripped from their homes and brutally forced to fight in the war was unthinkable.

“These kids are forced to fight or be killed,” said McKinley, one of the organizers and a Helena High School junior. “‘Invisible Children’ tries to get them back home.”

After producing the film, a nonprofit organization was formed, which now also works to rebuild schools destroyed by the war.

McKinley is hoping that a benefit on Saturday at Memorial Park will raise $10,000 for those schools.

“We wanted to set the goal high — if we get more it will be even better,” he said. “If we are going to dream — dream big.

The Invisible Children Benefit Concert will feature six bands and will have no entrance fee, but donations are encouraged.

The event begins at noon. There will be face painting, a dunk tank and Big Time Bouncers. Bands performing throughout the day are RoxSlyde, Triple Cross, StoneHouse, Kevin Koutnik and the Protectors, Macho Band, and Indecent Exposure — all of them, including the sound guys, are donating their time.

McKinley plays the guitar and sings vocals for Indecent Exposure and says he feels fortunate to live free from the terror these African children face.

“Here, we only worry about who we are going to play with or what’s for dinner. They are just trying to stay alive,” he said.

The money raised will help assist with Invisible Children’s programs that help children by rebuilding schools, educating future leaders by providing scholarships, providing mentors for secondary students and economic development.

Books will also be collected at the event and will be shipped to Northern Uganda for schools there.

For more information about the nonprofit visit http://www.invisiblechildren.com">www.invisiblechildren.com.

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or alana.listoe@helenair.com

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