Guest Column: Clarifying Invisible Children
In the past few weeks, Facebook and Twitter have been blowing up with “Kony 2012” and criticisms of the organization called Invisible Children. Many say it is a scam; some people aren’t sure what the truth is. So, who is Invisible Children, what is Kony 2012 and what are the real facts?
The Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, abducts thousands of innocent Ugandan children, using little girls as sex slaves and boys as soldiers, forcing them to murder others. The LRA is not supported by any governments or communities and operates solely on what they can loot from the villages.
IC has been an active organization since 2005 with a goal of bringing Kony and his top officers to justice. Former child soldiers and others who have lived through the terrors of the LRA have even spoke at screenings held here at Kent State.
Despite all the facts and proof that IC is a legitimate organization, there have been mass amounts of criticisms and rumors spreading like wildfire over the Internet.
It is true that 37.14 percent of the funds IC receives goes toward the programs in Africa. However, what most people do not know is that IC believes in a three-pronged approach: media, advocacy and development.
Media catches the attention of the people. In its 2011 fiscal year, IC spent $699,617 on media and film creation.
Advocacy: Clearly, the creation of the movie did exactly what it was intended to do: spread awareness and attract people to help. An additional 38.76% is spent on sending IC employees all over the country to host free screenings in schools, universities, churches and even backyards.
Finally, development: IC has helped to rebuild war torn areas by establishing schools, scholarship programs, rehabilitation centers and early warning radio towers. The remaining 16.24% goes toward paying the employees, roadie vans, office space, etc.
IC headquarters is located in San Diego, Calif., but it employs many people living in Africa as well. All the financial information is available not only on its website but in its tax forms, which are public domain. Everything is online and easy to access.
IC recognizes that the LRA has moved out of Uganda and into Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. It is correct that the Ugandan army is notorious for corruption. However, no money has ever gone toward the army or government of Uganda. Utilizing that army is the only feasible way to stop Kony and protect the civilians.
Finally, the founder of IC, Jason Russell, has been in the news recently for his strange behavior in public. According to not only IC but also Jason’s wife and the head of the San Diego Police Department, Jason Russell created a disturbance when he was running in and out of traffic and yelling at cars.
It is true that he was naked, but it is untrue that he was arrested. He was admitted to the hospital for exhaustion, malnutrition, dehydration and psychosis due to the great deal of stress he has been under in the last few weeks. If he had a heart attack people would have understood, but in these modern times people are much less sympathetic and understanding of the illnesses of the mind.
A quote from Jedidiah Jenkins reads, “We believe that human evil is the responsibility of all men. When we turn our face from horror, we bless it to continue. We believe our task is to live the simple and true things, and work them out no matter how hard: that men and women, no matter where they live, are equal. and loved. and worthy. and that we are all connected, not just in a complicated global exchange of goods and commodities, which is undeniable, but in a human web of innate value.”
This expresses the ideal and philosophy behind IC and what it calls “The Fourth Estate.”
If there is one thing that should be taken away from this article it should be this: Do your own research before believing what you hear. Look to reliable websites that end in .gov, .edu, .int and so on.
If anyone is interested in becoming involved, Kent State has its very own IC group. More information is available at facebook.com/KentStateInvisibleChildren.