A very good friend of mine, Melissa Imbesi, approached me last week to ask if I would publish her piece on my blog. She was feeling strongly about this topic and wanted to use my blog as another forum in which to spread the word on Kony – who no doubt you’ve heard of if you frequent Facebook.
I am very happy to publish her writing – I hope you’ll find it as interesting to read as I do…
Do you know who Joseph Kony is? If someone had asked me this question face to face, I would have squinted up my eyes and acted as though the answer was right on the tip of my tongue and then guessed something that sounded intellectual, like, “Wasn’t he that guy who did all that research work in ……..” You get my drift. I had no clue. Until about 9.30am this morning.
Whilst attempting to eat a piece of toast (I use the word ‘attempt’ very literally, I never actually ended up finishing it) and feed my kids their breakfast, I checked my Facebook and one of my friends had posted a link to the documentary KONY 2012 by the NonProfit organisation, Invisible Children. Ordinarily I probably would have just scrolled through this, but I enjoy most of the stuff she posts, so I thought I would have a quick look. I was hooked from the minute it started.
Very briefly, Joseph Kony is a Ugandan guerrilla who heads the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Africa. For years the LRA have been abducting children from their parents, raping and selling the little girls into sexual slavery and forcing the boys to wield guns and shoot to kill. Some children have also been forced to kill their own parents and perform horrific acts, such as mutilating the faces of other children. In short, this guy is an evil, disgusting man who needs to be stopped.
The doco is centred around the fact that although he is responsible for the abduction of over 60,000 children (some report this number is closer to 100,000), he is relatively unknown. Many people I have spoken to today don’t know who he is. I definitely didn’t. Herein lies the beauty of this documentary. Invisible Children is so cleverly, through Facebook and social networking, making Kony “famous”. They want his name to become a household one, where everyone knows who he is, what he is doing, and what needs to be done to bring him down. This is where we come in. The thing that I love the most about this (apart from the fact that it really is a brilliant documentary and also features a snippet of George Clooney), is how they are not begging for donations, or throwing countless statistics at us. All they really want us to do is spread the word about who he is. If you have time, sign the pledge that is linked on their page. If you have a little extra cash at your disposal, buy an Action Pack or Bracelet or T-Shirt.
Now, I hang my head in shame as I say this, but I am one of those people who has been known to, on occasion, employ distraction tactics to avoid being stopped by charities in the shopping centres. For example, if passing a Greenpeace stand I may have once or twice pretended to be deep in faux conversation with no-one on the other end of my mobile phone to avoid being interrupted. Or, I have picked up the pace whilst pushing my trolley and literally started jogging and if, God forbid, I make eye contact with a charity worker, I breathlessly yell out, “so sorry, I’m in a huge rush”. It’s not that I don’t care about Greenpeace or any other charity, it’s just that at this point in my life, I don’t want to commit to signing up to something on an ongoing basis when I don’t know what tomorrow brings for my own life. That said, I did purchase an Action Pack today, which includes a KONY 2012 bracelet, t-shirt, stickers and flyers ($30USD, however a $13 shipping fee is added to this at the checkout in case you were wondering). My husband was pissed. We are building a house and there isn’t much spare change around at the moment, but I reasoned with him by explaining that I would use this as my birthday gift. Hopefully, when he is feeling a little more compassionate, I’ll get him to watch the doco too. I know he’ll love it and that warm heart of his will shine on through. Maybe he’ll buy his own Action Pack. Maybe not.
The point is – you don’t need to buy anything. Or do anything – except share your knowledge. It’s as simple as asking the next person you speak to, “Do you know who Joseph Kony is?” And you’re helping. Bring him up in conversations, tell your parents, tell anyone who will listen who he is. The more recognition this scumbag gets, the better. Eventually, one way or another, this shithead is going down and there is something heartwarming and exciting about the fact that together, as a global community, we have all contributed in some way. It kind of restores your faith in humanity and that we are all working as a team regardless of religious, racial or political views that can so often get in the way.
I look at my own children and the thought of them falling over and grazing their knees upsets me. The thought of anything remotely close to this happening to them is so horrific and unimaginable that I can’t bear to think of it. So please, for these poor kids, whose every waking moments are unbearable nightmares and are suffering in ways that we can’t even imagine, please tell someone about Joseph Kony. Who he is. What he does. How we, together, can stop him and get these children back to their families. Where they belong.
If you’ve been on another planet and have missed the doco, you can watch it here…