Most of you have heard about Invisible Children and their recent viral documentary called KONY 2012… and I’m guessing most of you have an opinion about the organization, be it negative or positive. Or maybe, you’ve never heard about the organization before in your life. Regardless, I can tell you that very few of you understand the incredible task that this organization has taken on, and the progress they have made the past 7 years in ending Africa’s longest running war and putting an end to the gross atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The Lord’s Resistance Army is a Ugandan rebel group lead by a gruesome man named Joseph Kony. What started as a movement to end oppression in Northern Uganda, has turned into absolute chaos and destruction, thanks to the LRA’s brutal tactics. The rebel group is known for abducting small children from their homes, and rapping, killing, and forcing them to fight in their army. This has been going on for over 25 years, and Kony and his army have managed to abduct over 30,000 African children.
The founders of Invisible children traveled to Uganda in 2004, and after learning about the brutal war, made a decision to work towards putting an end to it. What started out as a homemade video, documenting the things they witnessed and the people they met while in Uganda, has turned into one of the world’s most accomplished and recognized non-profits, complete with hundreds of young people who have dedicated their lives to stopping Joseph Kony and finally putting an end to his brutalities.
Here’s where it gets personal for me. My sister is actually one of them. My sister spent the last two years of her live working furiously for this cause that she is so incredibly passionate about. She’s spent months at a time, literally living in a 5-passenger neon van, traveling around the country to spread awareness and support of the issue. She’s spoken to tens of thousands of students, explaining why this man must be stopped now. Have I mentioned that she volunteered to do this, regardless of the fact that she wasn’t getting paid for it?
She was joined by hundreds of other dedicated interns, equally as passionate about giving a voice to the thousands of ’invisible children’ abducted and abused by Joseph Kony and his rebel army. I have had the privilege of hosting dozens of these interns, or ‘roadies’, in my small apartment here at school. I’ve literally seen their blood, sweat, and tears, and am repeatedly amazed by their ability to inspire and motivate young people every single day to make a difference in ending this massacre. They wake up everyday, oftentimes running on only four hours of sleep and a cup of mediocre instant coffee, put a smile on their face, and fervently advocate for this cause.
Not only have I met the blood and bones of Invisible Children, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet a handful of the Ugandan men and women affected directly by the LRA. I’ve heard their heartbreaking stories, seen their scars, and felt their hurt and pain caused by this war. Kilara Bazilo, a close friend of my sister’s, told me about a time the LRA came to his school when he was a young boy. They killed his teacher as he and his classmates watched. They proceeded to abduct the young girls as sex slaves. The boys in his class where abducted and turned into child soldiers, who were then ordered to return to their village and kill their families.
It absolutely saddens me to hear ignorant people criticize the efforts and accomplishments of Invisible Children, based solely off of a single blog post written by an uneducated, hateful person, or a TMZ report that is infamously known for having no journalistic integrity whatsoever. While part of me is tempted to angrily rant on and on about those un-informed, heartless individuals, I choose to focus instead on the millions of people who have stood beside Invisible Children, and have been absolutely instrumental in helping to stop Joseph Kony once and for all.
If nothing else, I ask that you visit invisblechildren.com and educate yourself about the suffering occurring in Uganda as I type these heartfelt words. Not only that, but be inspired to do something about it, and learn how you can bring Invisible Children to your school this semester.
Photo: My sister (fourth from the right) with some of her Invisible Children family.