Those against Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 movement

In the last 24 hours a video made by the organization Invisible Children has gone viral. It has been shared across the internet, even by me. Afters its release there has been a series of blog posts that are attempting to attack the video and the organization. Sadly most of those I see making outlandish comments have ZERO experience in a.) working in a 3rd world country or b.) have never worked or ran an NGO before. As usual, I can't just keep my mouth shut....

As more information has been coming out about Invisible Children and this video, I have been doing my own research and calling my own contacts in Africa. Needless to say, IC is not the most liked organization in Africa and specifically Uganda at the moment. They still do good things, but there is a lot that go against my personal beliefs in what is the best way to effect change and make a difference. Here is an article that touches of many of these points that have been brought to my attention in the last 7 days:

Here is the link to the video in question: KONY 2012
KONY 2012

Here is one of the articles in opposition:

Here is Invisible Children's response to these criticisms:

Here is a break down of the articles main points in opposition of IC and my responses. IC = Invisible Children for this post.

- IC only gives 32% to direct services

This translates to cash on the ground. One thing that most people do not realize or want to accept is that there are multiple different types of NGOs out there. There are those that focus on work on the ground for providing care, education, food and medical services and then there are those like IC. IC purpose is to effect change through movement. That is their power. They survive on viral marketing of their cause. So this means that where their finances are concerned, more money will be spent on movies like this, marketing campaigns and even staff salary to make it all happen, then providing direct services to those in Uganda and other parts of Africa. Both have a place in the humanitarian world. I have an organization I founded called "Lespwa Haiti" thats sole purpose was to provide free professional media for small local haitian organizations on the ground, allowing them to reach more donors and raise more money by having images and video that move people. Its all part of what is needed out there.

- Support for Military Intervention

While a touchy subject the article might be right, although it is not black and white but rather shades of gray. The reality is that humanity as a whole does not understand pacifism. Some times action is needed and rarely ( but sometimes) it is the only solution. The key is to make it about empowering the local people rather then fighting wars for them. Creating a cycle of dependance on NGO aid is a HUGE HUGE issue in the world. I always say "IDP camps are temporary solutions that turn into permanent problems". People have a right to oppose war, but if those same people think that action can not sometimes be beneficial and or required, they are living in a utopian dream world that does not exist. Yes there are other Kony's out there, but the world is a better place without Hitler, regardless if Stalin and his like rose up after his passing.

- Manipulating facts for film making purposes

Again, another touchy subject. Yes, I would love to live in a world where I could post something on Google+ about the plight of kids in Nepal, Rhinos being slaughtered in Africa and genocide in the Congo and have people stand up with me to help fight for these causes, but it doesn't work like that. We live in an "instant" world with instant coffee, instant messaging and others. Peoples attention spans are nano seconds these days. No one in the NGO world likes to tell a story in a way that grabs peoples attention when they have to create it in such a way, but it is reality. The frustration of screaming from the top of your lungs for help and having no one come is a good analogy. Viral helps movements that will in-turn help enact change. IC is about story telling and building a movement for people that had no voice. That is their purpose first and for most.

UPDATE - I was not saying it is ok to lie. I was more so pointing to the fact that this is a documentary that is meant to invoke get people talking. They did not misrepresent facts, but put together this movie in a way that grabbed your attention. From here, do your own research and make up your own mind.

- Supporting the Uganda Military

When you work in a country like Uganda you have to make tough choices. When no one is listening to your cries for help, you sometimes have to do the best with what you have. This is certainly something that NEEDS looking into, but again the world is not always black and white. It would be nice to say...these are the good guys and these are the bad guys. But the world is not clean cut, since everyone is coming from a different prospective. Maybe there was no other options. Having worked mostly in 3rd world countries, I can tell you that I have had to pay many people off to do anything about anything. Not a fun situation, but reality. Seeing children starving to death in person changes you. You will never be the same. At times you will do what you feel is needed to change the situation.


So there you have it. They are not perfect and they are not an organization for everyone. But it is hard to not get worked up when I see people make outlandish statements based on other peoples opinions without ever having had any experience working in the NGO world. Its a rough place to work, both physically and emotionally and often times your only option to help is to make the choice between the lesser of two evils. Utopia does not exist. Humanity destroyed it long ago....

Here is a video from the Northern Ugandan woman that originally told IC about Kony back in 2003 directed that those criticizing the movement. She was a sex slave and child soldier at one point under Kony.
To Critics of KONY 2012

Ultimately you need to make up your own mind. I have gone back and forth but ultimately decided not to promote or help finance Kony 2012 any longer. IC still does good work, but I don't agree with many of their tactics that have been brought to light.
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