Photo courtesy of Invisible Conflicts

The icy waters of Lake Michigan didn’t stop nearly 80 students from plunging into its shores in early December to help raise money for Invisible Conflicts, a Loyola student group that raises money to send children in war-torn Uganda to school.

A seven-year long Loyola tradition, the IC Plunge gathers students who pledge to run into the lake in winter as part of a fundraising effort. Invisible Conflicts hosts the plunge to benefit the Dwon Madiki Partnership, the community organization in Uganda which the student group works with directly.

The Dwon Madiki Partnership works as a scholarship program that pays for the tuition and scholastic materials for 20 Ugandan children to attend school. Each year, the Partnership needs around $4,000 by the end of January to cover all the childrens’ school fees. The IC Plunge raised close to $2,700 in donations.

Before plungers rushed into Lake Michigan, a “pre-plunge party” took place in Crown Center that featured live music and performances from Loyola students and alumni. Two members of Mundelein, a band formed by three former Loyola students, played a song written by one of the girls in the Dwon Madiki Partnership that thanks Loyola for the opportunities the students here have given her.

Patricia Graham, development director of Invisible Conflicts, says her favorite part about the plunge was seeing everyone’s enthusiasm to gather around one cause and play a part in helping these children go to school.

“Especially because of Loyola’s commitment to social justice and the expression of ‘Go forth and set the world on fire,’ I really like that we’re in a community where people will follow through and actually come out and be supportive and do something fun and crazy for a good cause,” says Graham.

Kelly Joy, senior elementary education major and co-president of Invisible Conflicts, says the event was also successful beyond the fundraising element.

“We got a lot of people talking about what is going on in Uganda,” Joy says.

While students in Chicago can do their part in supporting the Dwon Madiki Partnership, some members of Invisible Conflicts were able to travel to Uganda in the summer of 2011 to work directly with the communities and meet some of the children that are able to go to school because of the partnership.

Graham went to Uganda as a delegate for Invisible Conflicts and worked with the community leaders and the schools to ensure the needs of the children were being met and that they are receiving the best education possible.

All of these young lives were disrupted when the Lord’s Resistance Army came through their town. Everyone in the village was affected, and many kids were left orphaned, making it impossible for many children to pay their school fees. Joy says that helping these kids receive an education is the most important thing they can do.

“We are creating a new future for Uganda because many people are not educated in that area,” says Joy. “Just providing an education can change so much.”

Unable to make it to the IC Plunge? You can purchase handmade Ugandan artisan items online at the Invisible Conflicts website, and all the money benefits the Dwon Madiki Partnership.

For anyone who is interested in participating in Invisible Conflicts, the group meets Thursdays at 8 p.m. in Dumbach Hall, room 122. Contact Invisible Conflicts at with any questions.