Invisible Children: Activating a Generation
Editor’s Note: Due to the recent controversy over Invisible Children and their Kony 2012 campaign, we have two articles with differing perspectives for you. To read the other side, click here.
Invisible Children’s website crashed Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the nonprofit released its new film KONY 2012. By the time you read this post, more than 33 million people will have viewed the 30 minute film. The campaign’s hashtags, including #StopKony and #MakeKonyFamous have been trending worldwide on Twitter. An Australian TV station aired the film uninterrupted and in full on national television network Ten.
All of this, and we are only a few days into a campaign slated to end on December 31, 2012. Invisible Children aims to get the mainstream media talking about Joseph Kony and his crimes by targeting 20 cultural makers and 12 policy makers. Targeted cultural makers Rihanna, Oprah, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift have already tweeted about Kony.
Invisible Children would like to see wanted war criminal Joseph Kony apprehended and tried before the International Criminal Court. Invisible Children has declared April 20, 2012 a global day of action. As Jason Russell, Invisible Children co-founder and KONY 2012 director states in the film, “This is the day we will meet at sundown and blanket every street in every city until the sun comes up. The rest of the world will go to bed Friday night and wake up to hundreds of thousands of posters demanding justice.”
Watch KONY 2012 now:
The press has responded with high profile media coverage. Not all of the stories are complimentary to Invisible Children, however. Critics allege the organization streamlines facts, misallocates funds, and smacks of neocolonialism. The nonprofit has been rebutting accusations by stating the organization’s case on the Invisible Children website and in interviews on TV news programs.
However, there is one point that seems indisputable. The founders and staff of Invisible Children are inspiring and activating a generation of young people by developing meaningful connections with supporters. Invisible Children has done this from the very start – with their very first film “Rough Cut,” weekly live webstreams for supporters, regularly occurring film tours of high school and college campuses executed by volunteers (called “roadies”) and Ugandan partners, contests in which the high school winners get to travel to Uganda with Invisible Children … and the list goes on and on.
I attended two Invisible Children film events on the University of San Francisco campus, facilitated by the school’s Invisible Children student club. I got to meet Jacob, one of the Ugandan boys featured in “Rough Cut.” Less than a year later, I found myself on the organization’s website looking for information about volunteering for Invisible Children in their Gulu, Uganda office. The organization does not accept volunteers in Uganda, but supporters are welcomed to tour the office if already visiting Uganda.
A few months later, my volunteer placements had been secured, apartment packed up, and plane tickets purchased. After spending a month volunteering at the Daraja Academy of Kenya, I traveled to Uganda to visit a friend who was volunteering with Light Gives Heat and a Fulbright Scholar studying peace parks. I had been in the country for less than 24 hours when I met my first international travelers whose own personal journies had also been inspired by Invisible Children. Charlie, Annette and I traveled to Gulu, Uganda together to see Invisible Children’s programs first-hand and to learn from the organization’s handful of American and 90+ Ugandan employees. Throughout my month in Uganda, I met young people from all over the world whose work in Uganda was inspired by Invisible Children.
This movement isn’t limited to activities in Uganda. Take a look at the dedicated youth who camped outside of a United States government building in the freezing cold for 262 hours in support of congressional action around the LRA – and won.
Consider the high school students leading fundraising campaigns in their schools. Then be a part of it by joining Invisible Children partner Resolve by signing up to meet with your congressional representatives this spring in your representatives’ district offices. According to Jason Russell, 2012 is going to be a big year.
Photo Credit: Invisible Children Uganda, by Nicole Parisi-Smith