March 23, 2012
Filed under Opinion
Over the past few weeks, the Internet has exploded with KONY 2012 on Twitter, Facebook, and other major social networking sites. The message was started by a charity who came out a with a video trying to make a Ugandan warlord the most infamous man in the world. He has committed unspeakable crimes against humanity such as child abduction, child armies, rape, and torture. The charity, Invisible Children, was created to fight the LRA (the group Kony fights under).
While this seems to be all in good intent, some things do not look right in the financial reports of Invisible Children. According to their own financial records, only 22% of the funds donated go to direct aid (2011 report). All other funds are used for production, compensation, and promotional costs. Some charities do use this method in trying to promote themselves (such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation), but the results are not very promising in this case. Granted, people can and will spend their money on whatever charity they wish.
A tumblr account, named visible children (visiblechildren.tumblr.com), posts daily critiques of the charity and the cause. This is not the only counter to the viral campaign. Many people on youtube have created their own critiques and do not agree with the charity’s method. One critic states how the video simplified the issue and focuses heavily on only one man. Also, it was stated that the video doesn’t show the current story in Uganda and how things have improved.
Al Jazeera, a middle-eastern media company, showed the video to real Ugandans. The result was rage and the video was eventually shut down due to the people throwing rocks at the screen. Their disgust came from how it didn’t portray the actual suffering of the Ugandan people as much as they wished it would show. They saw an outsider and old events that happened in Uganda with little new or relevant information. Merchandise with Kony’s name on it offended the native Ugandans, as it commercialized his name rather than mourning for their suffering. The Invisible Children may stay active for now but how how long will it continue on? It is important to check the financial records of a charity before donating to ensure that you agree with their standards.