Joseph Kony 2012: Is Invisible Children a Reliable Organization?
The nonprofit organization Invisible Children has launched a campaign about making Joseph Kony 'famous' and stopping the Lord's Resistance Army from kidnapping children and putting them into war in Uganda.
Who is Joseph Kony?
Joseph Kony took over an existing rebel group in Uganda and renamed it the Lord's Resistance Army.
The LRA has earned a reputation for its cruel and brutal tactics. When Joseph Kony found himself running out of fighters, he started abducting children to be soldiers in his army or “wives” for his officers. The LRA is encouraged to rape, mutilate, and kill civilians.
The LRA is no longer active in northern Uganda where it had originated, but it continues to campaign the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and south Sudan. In its 26-year-history, the LRA has abducted more than 30,000 children and displaced at least 2.1 million people.
What is Kony 2012?
Invisible Children’s goal for the Kony 2012 campaign is to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA. According to the Invisible Children website, the organization wants to make Joseph Kony “famous” by raising awareness of the atrocities going on in Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and south Sudan. Secondly, the organization wants to ensure that the U.S. Military Advisors support the Ugandan Army until Kony has been captured and the LRA has been completely disarmed.
Who is Invisible Children?
The Good Part about Invisible Children
In the spring of 2003, three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure became much more when Jason, Laren, and Bobby stumbled upon Africa’s longest-running war--a conflict where children were both the weapons and the victims.
They produced the documentary Invisible Children: Rough Cut in 2005. At first they just showed it to their friends and family, but it wasn’t long before millions of people had seen the documentary and knew about the “invisible children.”
In 2006, Invisible Children, Inc., became an official 501(c)3 non-profit. However, as time has passed, discrepancies have emerged with Invisible Children.
The Shady Part about Invisible Children
Invisible Children Inc. is an extremely shady nonprofit that has been called ”misleading,” “naive,” and “dangerous” by a Yale political science professor, Chris Blattman, and has been accused by Foreign Affairs of “manipulat[ing] facts for strategic purposes.” They have also been criticized by the Better Business Bureau for refusing to provide information necessary to determine if IC meets the Bureau’s standards.
By IC’s own admission, only 31% of all the funds they receive go toward actually helping anyone [pdf]. The rest go to line the pockets of the three people in charge of the organization, to pay for their travel expenses (over $1 million in the last year alone) and to fund their filmmaking business (also over a million) — which is quite an effective way to make more money, as clearly illustrated by the fact that so many can’t seem to stop forwarding their well-engineered emotional blackmail to everyone they’ve ever known.
Here's the thing: Joseph Kony hasn't even been in Uganda for six years.
Invisible Children seems as though they want to fight fire with fire, by propping up Uganda’s decades-old dictatorship and its military arm, which has been accused by the UN of committing unspeakable atrocities and itself facilitated the recruitment of child soldiers, is not the way to go about it.
The United States is already plenty involved in helping rout Kony. Kony is on the run, having been pushed out of Uganda, and it’s likely he will soon be caught, if he isn’t already dead. The LRA might collapse, but, as Foreign Affairs points out, it is “a relatively small player in all of this — as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence.”
Don't Get Us Wrong - Joseph Kony and the LRA need to be depleted. But giving donations to an organization that only uses 31 to 32 percent of the funds to actually do their job isn't helping those children. It's giving the organization's leaders king size beds and 5-star hotel rooms.