Invisible Children Illegitimate?
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Before January 1st, 2012, few people knew the name Joseph Kony. A viral YouTube video produced by Invisible Children Inc. brought a world issue to light; Kony, the founder of a military force in Uganda, kidnaps young children to be turned into military soldiers and slaves. Before Kony was ever brought to attention, he had been doing horrific acts against his people, including kidnapping, murder, and rape. When viewers around the world witnessed the acts of Joseph Kony, word spread fast. 87,864,805 people have now viewed the YouTube video.
Brashier students have been talking about the video at lunch, in the hallways, and even in some classes. However, many are saying that the Invisible Children organization is not as reputable as they have portrayed themselves to be.
One reason people are concerned about the organization’s efforts is its strong emotional connection to the cause.
“I think Invisible Children may have too strong of a bias against Kony…I don’t know if all of the facts were correct or exaggerated,” said one sophomore that viewed the video, Chloe Schockling.
In Invisible Children’s 2011 Annual report, founder Jason Russell states, “As most of you know by now, I am an emotional person. I’m often dramatic and prone to exaggeration.”
Another reason students doubt the legitimacy of Invisible Children Inc. is their intentions financially.
Sophomore Kelly Roth, who watched the video in Social Studies class, said, “I’ve heard rumors that it’s not non-profit.”
In the 2011 Annual Report by the organization, it shows that out of the total income, only 37.14% of the funds go to Central Africa Programs. Also, they have an extra $4.8 million in net income. The report does not disclose where this additional money is going, and that is a reason for concern for one Brashier student.
Junior Natalie Uram, who is reluctant to donate to the organization, said, “I think we should find out where our money’s going.”
Invisible Children’s Director of Ideology, Jedidiah Jenkins, said, “37% of our budget goes directly to Central African-related programs, about 20% goes to salaries and overhead, and the remaining 43% goes to our awareness programs… The truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organization, and we don’t intend to be.”
Invisible Children discloses that their main concern is not aiding the victims of Kony’s crimes like their video suggests, but a focus on awareness and advocacy.
When sophomore Yianna Kyriacou learned of Invisible Children’s intentions, she said, “I think that getting the word out about Kony is important, and the organization is doing a good job of that. What they aren’t doing a good job of is actually helping the cause they raise awareness for.”
Another source of concern among students involved in the movement is the local response in Uganda. It seems Invisible Children is helping the country, but in reality, few Ugandans want anything to do with IC’s Kony movement. Locals feel that their suffering and circumstances are being used for profit. In an article by the Daily Monitor, a Ugandan newspaper, one headline states, “Kony 2012 video makers using us to make profit, war victim says.”
Schockling says, “Overall, [Kony 2012 is having] an impact of awareness more than anything. Something needs to be done against Kony and his acts. I want to do something, but I will not use Invisible Children as a means to do it… I’m for the cause, but against the charity.”