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Kony 2012 and Why People Can Only Help if They Know What is Going on

Kony 2012 and Why People Can Only Help if They Know What is Going on
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NOTE: This is a guest blog post from†John Travis, co-founder of Drop in the Bucket.

By now you have all most likely seen the Kony 2012 video and I’m guessing you have also been exposed to the media firestorm that has ensued.

For the most part, viewers seem to be divided into two groups. On one side there are those who have known about this situation for years and were upset at some of the oversimplifications and the way some of the facts were presented. The other side seems to be mainly made up of people who had little or no knowledge of the LRA prior to seeing the video and were angry at people coming across as overly critical about people trying to do something positive.

It is difficult to be impartial about any situation that involves children being brutalized, raped, kidnapped, forced to fight and brainwashed at the hands of an insane murderer wanted for crimes against humanity. But, what seems to be absent from the discourse is an objective point of view.

This blog is an attempt to address that.

Answering some of the criticisms of the video

Lets start with the detractors. Many of the charges leveled against Invisible Children — the charity behind the video — were unfair, and some were out and out ridiculous. Some bloggers were making comments such as, “This was all paid for by big oil, who only care about Africa because of its vast oil reserves.” This kind of accusation could only come from someone unaware of the Invisible Children organization.

First of all, Kony 2012 was not Invisible Children’s first video, in fact, far from it. They have actually been producing videos for years of different styles and with varying degrees of success. What was different about this one was that the messaging was far better than previous attempts, and it resonated with people far more than any of their earlier videos.

One of Invisible Children’s previous videos had the founders of the charity dancing as if they were in a third rate boy band, and singing out of tune about how they are trying to change the world. That video alone disproves the conspiracy theory that sinister oil interests or big business was behind the organization. It also shows just how far they have come as communicators and filmmakers.

Now let’s talk about the people who recently got involved as a result of watching the video. Criticizing these newer supporters for jumping on the bandwagon is unfair to say the least. You can’t blame anyone for not knowing who the LRA and Kony were two months ago. Within the scope of Africa, Uganda is not a big country and the Central Africa Republic (where Kony actually is) is rarely in the news. I personally only became aware of the situation due to my work with Drop in the Bucket, an Africa water charity I co-founded. Over the last six years, Drop in the Bucket has constructed over 100 water wells and a number of sanitation systems in the Acholi and Lango sub-regions of northern Uganda. These are the exact areas where Kony and the LRA were most active during their time in Uganda.

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Photo by Invisible Children

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8:41PM PDT on Apr 15, 2012


11:57AM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

Obamba Impeachment 2012!

7:49AM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

One thing, the video, couldn't have happened without the other, the organization.

To try and steer the conversation onto 'safer' ground and not acknowledge or bother to investigate the actual backers of the ideas that are being disseminated is a massive problem that isn't just part of this story of KONY2012, but a deeper systemic problem of the way we consume information, and just accept the things and the information presented to us by the digital talking heads on MSNBBCNNBCBC etc.

Did you know The United States, the other “good guy” in Kony 2012's imaginary world invented the modern African child soldier in the late1970s and early 80s, so their commitment to “ending child soldiers” is a bit suspect.

And what about Clooney and the whole recent spate of Sudanese and SPLA propaganda recently that came on the heels of IC and KONY2012, coincidence?

11:17PM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

What irritates me is how people are treating the Kony 2012 thing as just a big media thing. Just weeks ago, it was the main thing people were talking about. Now there's no mention of it. Everybody is like "I'm such a good person, I shared the link to the video!"
Nobody cared until it became the cool thing on facebook. Because it's cool to, is not a good reason for doing this. You should do it because you care.

8:30AM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

@Vernon B My post was not intended to address the organization Invisible children, but rather to discuss the video. I was not previously aware of their connections to "the family", but am deeply disturbed by the "Kill all the gays" bill that they are trying to pass in Uganda.

I have read blogs like this one, but without having personal knowledge on a specific subject, to be honest I would feel unqualified to write about it.

Thank you for your comments though.

7:45AM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

@ Mara C - Good question, in Uganda for example the LRA poses absolutely no risk to the children there and has not been any kind of issue for several years now. The biggest danger to the children in northern Uganda is disease cause by a lack of clean water and inadequate sanitation, and a lack of development. The way is over there ad now it is a time for development.

The way Drop in the Bucket is helping the children of Northern Uganda and South Sudan is by building wells and sanitation systems at schools. This gets children, especially girls, to stay in school and get an education which has always been proven to be one of the most effective ways to help move people out of poverty.

Of course this does not apply to the areas where the LRA is still active like the CAR and the DRC, but if the purpose of the video was to raise awareness of the LRA situation, which it absolutely did, what good will giving money to a group that admits they mainly raise awareness and are not an actual aid group? Many millions of people now know who Kony is and what the LRA does/did and they are being tracked by US troops and now by Africa Union forces, so in that sense IC's work on this situation is now done.

The most effective places to make donations are to groups on the ground that do engage in humanitarian aid work and development, the groups I named in my post are some of the groups doing the most to help these children.

For more information on Drop in the Bucket and the work we are

6:13PM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

The bottom line is that something needs to be done for the children. Problem is how & what!

10:56AM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

11:48AM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me that the more the international community and so many so-called "charities' attempt to help the people of Africa, the worse things get there. Yes, Africa and its people needs a great deal of assistance, but people have to think a lot more clearly about their donations and consider carefully to whom they give their money. Something smells about the KONY 2012 PR event and the fundraising of Invisible Children; but there are many other really wonderful groups out there to help send aid to Africa.

7:52AM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

Hmm, previous comment got cut off :( Here's info on "The Family" to add in with the SPLA stuff, you'll see the picture isn't so B&W
"Invisible Children, which has branded itself as welcoming cultural, religious, and sexual diversity, also enjoys extensive institutional and social ties to the global evangelical network known as The Fellowship (also known as "The Family") - which has been credited with inspiring and providing "technical support" for Uganda's internationally-denounced Anti Homosexuality Bill, also dubbed the "kill the gays" bill.
The Fellowship is a secretive U.S.-based brotherhood of international political and business leaders. Founded in 1935, its growing political clout was brought to widespread public notice with a 2002 Los Angeles Times report by Lisa Getter, then exposed in subsequent articles and two books by journalist Jeff Sharlet: The Family and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat To American Democracy.

As stated by Fellowship member and Watergate felon Charles Colson, the group is a "veritable underground of Christ's men all through the U.S. government." The Fellowship sponsors an annual National Prayer Breakfast in the U.S. and in countries throughout the world and sponsors training for youth including in Africa, where media materials repeatedly describe mentoring of a "new breed" of African leaders.""

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