Sunday, March 11, 2012

What I think of KONY 2012 Campaign...

I have had a lot of people ask me for my opinion on Kony 2012 because of my involvement in NGO' I just decided it would be easier to write about it!

I am not an expert on it by any means, but have had some great experiences that have taught me to be skeptical and really research before giving means and time to a non-profit.

In one sentence I would say the campaign for Invisible Children has some pro's...but also has a lot of con's.


The movie they have created was moving and has been incredible to watch how social media can really raise awareness. Sometimes in America we are extremely naive to the problems that exist in the world because we don't know. Hence, a movie about the LRA and the reality of the children involved is great and it made people care and want to do more. I have a huge soft spot for Africa...anyone who knows me knows that. I have personally met children in orphanages and throughout Kenya who have experienced horror that is unthinkable. I have a lot of respect for these guys who started Invisible Children and have created a voice for those who don't have one. I have no doubt in my mind that their intentions are good and that they have great and caring hearts.


Please, please, please do your research and decide for yourself before you hand over your money to an organization. 

Obviously they could never adequately convey the complexity of this problem in 30 short minutes. But it over-simplified how we can fix the problem. If you haven't really looked into the campaign it is basically raising awareness, making Joseph Kony famous and putting pressure on the U.S. Government to bring him to justice through military troops, as well as giving more power to the Ugandan Government. The problem with this solution is that it is not that easy. You can't just go in and get this guy without there being a lot of consequences. Here is a great quote by Grant Oyston that sums up why:

"Military intervention may or may not be the right idea, but people supporting KONY 2012 probably don’t realize they’re supporting the Ugandan military who are themselves raping and looting away. If people know this and still support Invisible Children because they feel it’s the best solution based on their knowledge and research, I have no issue with that. But I don’t think most people are in that position, and that’s a problem."

Like was mentioned, people don't understand that the Ugandan Government like many 3rd world and African Governments are just as corrupt. In fact, in Kenya I remember seeing huge billboards that only say, "We are NOT a corrupt Government". Chances are, if you have to put that on a billboard you probably are. Additionally, the LRA has really become less of a problem than it used to be...but by making Joseph Kony "famous" in this case may fuel the fire and give him more power. In fact, he hasn't been in Uganda for 6 years. This really complicates the problem because he has small forces all over East Africa making it really hard to target him.

I also really liked this point from a Ugandan,  Musa Okwonga. You can read his article HERE

"The thing is that Joseph Kony has been doing this for a very, very, very long time.  He emerged about a quarter of a century, which is about the same time that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni came to power.  As a result the fates of these two leaders must, I think, be viewed together.  Yet, though President Museveni must be integral to any solution to this problem, I didn’t hear him mentioned once in the 30-minute video.  I thought that this was a crucial omission. Invisible Children asked viewers to seek the engagement of American policymakers and celebrities, but – and this is a major red flag – it didn’t introduce them to the many Northern Ugandans already doing fantastic work both in their local communities and in the diaspora.

It didn’t ask its viewers to seek diplomatic pressure on President Museveni’s administration....About ten minutes into the video, the narrator asks his young son who “the bad guy” in Uganda is; when his young son hesitates, he informs him that Joseph Kony is the bad guy.  In a sense, he let Kony off lightly: he is a monster.  But what the narrator also failed to do was mention to his son that when a bad guy like Kony is running riot for years on end, raping and slashing and seizing and shooting, then there is most likely another host of bad guys out there letting him get on with it.  He probably should have told him that, too."

Lastly, the way the money being spent in this organization seems off to me. They did make claims that they are very transparent with how the money is spent that you donate, that they comply with all of the Non-profit regulations, as well as put out this chart of where their money went:

However, "last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services, with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited." You can find information on that HERE and also see a PDF of their last audit.

Mostly, I just really hope people will err on the side of caution and understand all of the sides of the coin before being sucked in. Also, after this whole thing is over I hope that people will truly remember what is going on and not forget after they push "like" on facebook or tweet this viral video. Buying TOMS and talking about on social media is just simply not enough. Understanding the issues and getting involved in charities that promote sustainability and education, I believe are better answers to the issues facing the world.

One last thing...who has heard of Darfur?? Most people I talk to never have. It is a horrible genocide much like the Holocaust. You should look into it also. This is another really great cause that should also raise awareness....go to

Here are some great articles and a video by CNN that explains the issues of KONY 2012 very well.

Articles HERE, HERE, and HERE.