Written by: Sydney Johnson
In recent years, many companies and non-profit organizations have set out to make a difference in the lives of those living within the war-torn regions of central Africa. One in particular, Invisible Children, has begun to create quite a stir amongst younger generations, the media, and these terrorized territories themselves.
Invisible Children has put on several events to raise funds for their organization, as well as to spread awareness of their cause, since its establishment in 2004. These include "Global Night Commute" (2006), "Displace Me" (2007), "The Rescue" (2009), "25" (2011), and their most recent and famous campaign, "Kony: 2012". Each event targeted a specific issue aiming to end LRA violence. Now, Kony 2012, which is still in progress, has set out to bring Joseph Kony to justice by the end of the year. To do this, IC has been taking advantage of today's media trends, and encouraging followers to contact their government officials to get involved. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, and just about any other social networking site you can think of have been bombarded with the Kony 2012, thanks to the dedicated supporters and celebrities who stopped at nothing to make the campaign go viral. The organization has been traveling the world sharing their Kony 2012 film with the public through screenings that have resulted in both support and criticism. Invisible Children has made it a point to address these criticisms and make their purpose, financials, and campaign clear via interviews and information on their website.
Being involved with the Kony 2012 campaign is not the only way one can help IC in ending Africa's longest running war, however. Invisible Children has several other programs that set out to make a difference in the lives of those living in the regions of both Northern Uganda and Central Africa.
The Mend program has created a way for women living in Northern Uganda to have sustainable jobs by making handbags that can be sold online or at IC events. Profits earned from selling these bags go towards providing these women training in family planning, health education, and counseling. The Legacy Scholarship Program funds secondary education for young people living in Northern Uganda, and is financially supported through the donations made to Invisible Children through their Bracelet Campaign and Schools for Schools. The Bracelet Campaign connects consumers to the program they are donating to by selling them an Invisible Children film of their choice. Each film comes with a specific bracelet, and allows the consumer to learn more about an issue in Africa that they can then share with others. Schools for Schools is a partnership program, where a school can sign up to raise money for a sister school in Northern Uganda to help raise money for that school's supplies and building of facilities.
The programs in Central Africa are somewhat newer in comparison to the other programs Invisible Children has established, but have already made an impact in ending the war. The Community Protection program is a network of radio towers in Central Africa that allow villages to warn others of oncoming LRA attacks. This also helps African governments track LRA whereabouts, thus making Joseph Kony's arrest that much more possible. The LRA Crisis Tracker, a website and smart phone app, gets its information from this network, and provides public awareness of LRA action in Africa at any given moment. With these communication systems, local radios can also make broadcasts to promote peace and encourage soldiers to leave the LRA, as the rebel group has radios of their own and can pick up these messages. Defection fliers are also being placed in the various areas where LRA groups have been known to pass though. These are made to encourage child soldiers and other LRA soldiers to escape, and say it will be okay to return home. IC has also begun to implement rehabilitation centers, the first of which is in Dungu, DRC. According to the Invisible Children program website, the center "treats the most severely traumatized children with psychosocial counseling, vocational training, and family-reunification services."
Invisible Children began with a goal to exposure the war in Africa, and make Joseph Kony a household name. They now are working to bring child soldiers home, help incorporate them back into society, and end the war causing such destruction once and for all.
For any more information on the organization, history of the war, criticisms, booking a screening, donating, or Kony 2012, visit www.invisiblechildren.com
To learn more about any
of the Invisible Children programs, visit http://invisiblechildren.com/programs/