“Nate worked with us at Invisible Children and leaves behind a legacy of honor, integrity, and service…Nate’s life ended while living out…a selfless dream of putting others first, seeking peace, and living a life of integrity. He will be forever missed…”—Blog post at Invisible Children
By Miriam Raftery
July 12, 2010 (San Diego) – Nate “Oteka” Henn, a relief worker with the San Diego-based organization Invisible Children, was killed in yesterday’s bombings of World Cup soccer fans in Kampala, Uganda. Three synchronized bombings exploded at a rugby field and in an Ethiopian restaurant where fans had gathered to watch the final World Cup match between Spain and Netherlands, killing at least 74 people and wounding many others. Authorities suspect Shabab, a militant Islamic group with ties to Al Qaeda, is responsible for the attacks.
Invisible Children was founded by documentary filmmakers who reported on the plight of child soldiers in Uganda and now organizes efforts to help children of Uganda. The group now works to bring peace to the region, improve education for Uganda's children, provide mentorships, rebuild schools, bring financial stability, and resettle survivors in refugee camps. Two former Ugandan child soldiers forced into military service before escaping the brutal regime now live in east San Diego neighborhoods.
Henn attended the University of Delaware, where he majored in psychology and was an avid rugby player before being sidelined by an injury, the Associated Press reports.
“From traveling the United States without pay advocating for the freedom of abducted child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s war, to raising thousands of dollars to put war-affected Ugandan students in school, Nate lived a life that demanded explanation. He sacrificed his comfort to live in the humble service of God and of a better world, and his is a life to be emulated,” a blog post established in Henn’s memory states.
Henn went to Uganda determined to see the homeland of friends he had made on tour. “His love for the Ugandan students he had worked with is exemplified by the deep friendships he forged with them.” Ugandan students gave him the Acholi name “Oteka”, which means “The Strong One.” Some of them were with him at the time of the attack,” the blog post stated.
In a Facebook entry posted shortly before his departure for Uganda, Henn wrote, “Thank you for helping me achieve my dream of getting to Uganda.” While there, Invisible Children’s post reveals, he wrote home and called his time among Ugandan friends the “best days of his life.”
In Spring Valley, Shawn Walchef and Corey Robinson, owners of Cali Comfort Restaurant and Sports Bar, expressed shock and sadness upon hearing of Henn's death.
"Hearing of a tragedy like this in Uganda is a stark reminder of the injustice and terrorism that happens all over the world on a much too frequent basis," they wrote in an e-mail to East County Magazine. "While our patrons at Cali Comfort enjoyed the final match of the World Cup in the comfort of our neighborhood restaurant, this terrible act of violence and hate occurred thousands of miles away at a Ugandan restaurant with patrons just wanting to watch a Championship soccer match. We are sad to learn about the loss of life yesterday and gravely reminded of the freedom and liberties we have as American small business owners."