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The Other Side of ‘Kony 2012’

by Susan Freudenheim

March 14, 2012 | 5:54 pm

Residents watch the premiere of "Kony 2012", a 30-minute YouTube film created by the nonprofit group Invisible Children, in Lira district located 376 km (234 miles) north of Uganda's capital Kampala on March 13. Photo by REUTERS/James Akena

I wrote a column this week about my sense that ‘Kony 2012’—which has kids all excited about getting engaged—should redirect our thoughts to programs we know are more reliable and doing work in Africa that we can become involved with beyond just Tweeting. Organizations like Jewish World Watch.

In response, a source sent me a link to a piece written by Anwar Ricky Richard, in Northern Uganda, who was abducted as a child by Joseph Kony’s Lords Resistance Army. He described in detail his own horrific kidnapping:

“I was one of the now-famous “child soldiers.” I was abducted at the age of 14 with my brother by the LRA, and remained with them for nearly two and half years. We were picked up in front of our home; our powerless family members were burned to death in our grass-thatched house while we were forced to watch and hear them cry for help. I saw brutality beyond description. I saw tortures, rapes, killing, abduction, and war. Since 1999, through Friends of Orphans, I have worked to rehabilitate countless former child soldiers and others affected by the war to reverse the massive damage the LRA has done to my community and to our youth. I know how bad the LRA are and I demand for the immediate end to this conflict. I believe for this to happen, OUR voices must be heard.”

Richard has founded Friends of Orphans, and advocates a peaceful solution to the Ugandan problems, which is why he disputes the approach of Invisible Children, the makers of the now-viral film “Kony 2012”, which already has been watched by more than 78 million people:

Invisible Children are known in Northern Uganda as an organization supporting the education of former abductees, which is much needed in the region. But they are not known as a peace building organization and I do not think they have experience with peace building and conflict resolution methods. I totally disagree with their approach of military action as a means to end this conflict.

You can read his full text, “Kony 2012: A View from Northern Uganda” here.

 

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