Thursday, 8 March 2012

KONY 2012 - Good idea or not?

This film does contain some disturbing scenes. Watch with caution.


*UPDATE*: Statement from CAFOD Brentwood:

"This film has done a great deal to raise awareness of the suffering that has been inflicted across East Africa and beyond as a result of the activities of the LRA. CAFOD and its partners been dealing with the reality of those activities and the tragic human consequences for decades now. However, we do not share the views of the organisation behind the film that the answer to this issue is more military intervention within the region, which can only serve to continue the cycle of violence, with children caught in the middle. CAFOD is working with partners in Uganda seeking to bring lasting peace and security to the region, and a life free from fear and violence to its children. To find out more about this work and how you can support please visit the CAFOD website: http://www.cafod.org.uk/uganda "


Many of you will by now have heard of, or seen KONY 2012. The 30 minute video has taken social media by storm highlighting one particular case of child soldiers in Uganda. However, as quickly as it spread, so did criticism of the organisation Invisible Children.

Their donation site actually crashed for part of yesterday as people flooded to make donations and buy wristbands in sympathy to the cause.

This blog, although a little snobby to the cause on both sides, highlights some of the issues covered elsewhere on the internet: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/should-i-donate-money-to-kony-2012-or-not

The writers conclusion:

"The film Kony 2012 began because the filmmakers went to Uganda and met a young boy so traumatised by his experiences that he was contemplating suicide. Confronted with the grotesque reality of the atrocities, the Western filmmakers did what I hope I'd do, and resolved to help. No matter what. With that in mind, does it matter if they get paid well? Does it matter if they massage the facts? Does it matter that their charity isn't completely accountable? Does is matter that they're naive prats who think it's the white man's job to save Africa? Or is that all just pompous hypothesising by Westerners with enough freedom, information and education to look down on a simple, kind act?

Isn't it better to just stop criticising and start helping children in need? Or is that the kind of blind interventionist attitude that throws countries like Afghanistan into very, very long wars?"

There are others too: http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/post/18890947431/we-got-trouble and http://www.thewrap.com/media/article/kony-2012-viral-youtube-video-draws-celebs-%E2%80%93-and-criticism-36051

Certainly this social media 'storm' has proved the power of such networks (if needed proof after the Arab Spring), can they continue to be used for good? Surely retweeting and sharing this video couldn't possibly do any harm?

My only concern is that the reputation of charities who are genuinely doing a very good job helping child soldiers could be damaged if the claims of financial secrecy and misappropriation of funds become founded. People will be sceptical of giving and donating.

For me, I'd rather give my money to CAFOD who I have seen first hand making sure every penny is accounted for. Dermot O'Leary visited a child soldiers project with CAFOD in 2004:

video

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