You wake up on a Saturday morning in autumn, reluctant to crawl out of your fleece sheets. After a warm, leisurely shower, you pull on your favorite jeans and coziest sweater. Later, on your usual morning trip to Starbucks, you whiz by the neighborhood houses in your mom’s shiny new BMW. Your only concern is whether or not Starbucks has their delicious pumpkin spice latte yet. Little do you know, 9,000 miles away in Africa, a war is raging. Children are being abducted by a savage army and left hopeless and broken. Families are being torn apart by murder and chaos; loss and pain. All of it due to just one man.
For the last 27 years, innocent children have been ripped from the comfort of their families and villages in the monstrous yet seemingly invisible war raging through Uganda, Central Africa, and Congo. So far, 30,000 children have been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army. The L.R.A is led by Joseph Kony, a ruthless commander. His horrifying plan has been to force kids into servants of the army and thrust them into a cold life of violence. The threat of being slaughtered at any act of disobedience or mistake always looms above these children.
While the war in Africa drags on, across the world lays Mountain View High School on the peaceful and serene west coast. Child soldiers hold powerful weapons in their hands while American children hold iPhones. Here they throw footballs, while there they throw babies into rivers as punishment to resistant mothers. Girls are kidnapped as sex slaves. Boys are kidnapped to become murderers. Children are trapped in terrible conditions with barely any food or shelter.
Without peace or education, this tragic war will continue, stealing the lives of more helpless children. The children will blindly march into the future knowing that they must kill or be killed. Fortunately, one group that has recognized this travesty is Invisible Children which is an organization that works to help bring peace to Uganda, Central Africa, and Congo.
In 2003, a trio of friends, Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole, and Jason Russell traveled to Uganda, Africa. They witnessed countless abominable acts, the aftermath of the L.R.A, and were shocked that the innocent people of Uganda were under complete control of Joseph Kony and his army.
Everyone had somehow been affected by the war; either having been a child soldier themselves, having a child abducted, or being held captive by the L.R.A (with appalling mutilations to show as evidence.) Bailey, Poole, and Russell knew they needed to do something to put an end to Joseph Kony’s reign. So they made a film.
In 2012, the campaigning video was released on youtube. It became one of the fastest growing viral recordings ever, gaining 100 million views in 6 days, and with 3.7 million people pledging their support to the cause. The video, titled Kony 2012, documented Bailey, Poole, and Russell’s experiences in Uganda: the people, the life, the L.R.A. It featured a young boy named Jacob with whom the three became close during their stay. Jacob, an escaped child soldier, told the unnerving story of the death of his brother, his abduction, and the constant feelings of fear that plagued him and the millions of other people living in the shadow of Kony’s army. The heinous actions documented in the video served as a powerful message: Joseph Kony must be stopped.
Despite it’s early success, after a few weeks it fizzled down. As people realized some flukes in the program, such as where all the money goes, the video’s popularity died. Later, it was revealed that only 81.48% of donations actually went to fighting the cause. Financially, Invisible Children is broken down in four areas. Media, the first part, is used to “document LRA atrocities, introduce new audiences to the conflict and inspire global action”. Next, Mobilization, where the organization strives to gather massives group to support and advance efforts in ending the conflict. The third part, Protection, is centered around providing a safe system to spread news of nearby LRA attacks to remote places and encourage LRA members to surrender. Lastly, Recovery is a program that invests in education and economic recovery in order to promote long lasting peace.
After the initial release of the video, people questioned what actually was going on in Africa. Wondering whether or not the war was even taking place, it was revealed to audiences that the worst part of Kony’s torture was over. Although the hardest has passed, there still remains several hundred renegades operating in the corner of Congo and Uganda. On the run from the Ugandan army, the LRA has not yet been defeated or help accountable for their crimes. Although there has been controversy over finances and the cause itself, many have devotedly continued supporting the Invisible Children organization.
Now in 2013, the campaign has made monumental progress. According to Invisible Children’s website, 89% of escaped soldiers report that ‘Come home’ fliers and broadcast messages encouraged and informed them to escape. Fortunately, two L.R.A commanders now no longer fight for Kony, and the killing rate of civilians due to the army dropped 67%. However, the fight has not been won. Kony still has a hold on Uganda and neighboring countries and is mercilessly murdering, abducting, and terrorizing innocent civilians.
On Monday, September 30th, the Invisible Children organization presented the Kony 2012 video through the Mountain View High School club “Schools 4 Schools,” along with information about their program, goals, and progress. Through donations, the Invisible Children save lives by printing thousands of fliers with instructions on how to escape the L.R.A. Plus, by using radio broadcasting to assist child soldiers in freeing themselves and funding rehabilitation centers for ex abductees, many lives have been altered greatly.
Authors: Laura DeMassa and Sydney Sheffield