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.


Related Stories:

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No Childhood for Child Soldiers


Photo Credit: Invisible Children Uganda, by Nicole Parisi-Smith


Mandy Harker
Mandy H6 years ago

Very inspiring but also very misleading. Kony may be evil but he is also missing(has been for 6 years) and presumed dead. Also note that the Ugandan army got into power by rapeing, murdering and torturing other innocent Ugandans, so teaming up with them isn't really a positive thing to be doing.
However that said IC has stimulated curiosity which is an important part to getting the truth out there.

rosemary weston
rosemary weston7 years ago

no one is saying that kony is the only evil person around. there are many horrible people in the world who should be stopped. i see this as making an example to stop one very evil person with grass roots efforts all over the world. instead of standing alone, if enough people let themselves be heard this time, it may give us courage to stand up again for humanity. it more people had spoken up against hitler, maybe he would have been stopped earlier. we have the internet technology to be able to do it and we are all responsible...we are all connected.

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim7 years ago

Why are we only concerned over Kony. I'm sure there are a lot more like him or worse out there, but only he gets the spotlight... If we want to stop what he's doing, we have to stop all the people that are doing the same thing all over the world. The problem is, like he says, to make them known.

sabine b.
sabine b7 years ago

Not only Kony but all the others whon do the same thing need to be stopped.

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley7 years ago

It does sound like a worthy effort. Much, much more info needs to be out there, of course, but it isn't up to a foreign country to solve problems of people who can solve their own problems.

Tim Cheung
Tim C7 years ago


KS Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 7 years ago


Michelle J.
Michelle Johnson7 years ago

American Refugee Committee International and Global Partners for Development are both organizations that would be more worthwhile to contribute to. Look into them, they both got top ratings at and are working to solve the root problems that are creating villains like Joseph Kony.

Perri Lomberg
Perri L7 years ago

I've heard a lot of critics of the Kony 2012 campaign, and I think there are things (as a member of Inviible Children before this, and a participant of last years 25 hours of silence) that people need to understand. 1) their task is threefold. They aren't misallocating finds, they never say that you ar funding Children in Africs, you are funding the organization in itself. 2) Pepole say that there is a large amount of information missing from the documentary, but it is a short snippet of what is happening and a call to arms, of course they aren't going to be able to give every single drop of information. i can't rememebr the last time anyone did. If you want the whole stor, do some research yourself. 3) they are generally a peaceful organization, and I know that this campaign in particular does involve a call to weaponry, but they aren't saying "go in there and start a war". They can remove Joseph Kony just like I am sure many world powers remove their enemies leaders, if only they get enough supporters.