Children in Africa have far greater worries as they lay their heads to rest at night. They fear being abducted in the middle of the night by rebel forces. Rebels who force them to join an army of African children, train and force them to kill, hold them captive and change their lives forever. This is something that you and I will never experience. These thoughts will never cross our minds or our children’s minds. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for so many. It is painful to think of, imagine how painful to experience.
By now, I’m sure your Facebook and Twitter timelines have blown up with KONY 2012. Whether or not you have chosen to engage in the material, I am unsure of. Over the past week I have seen KONY 2012 pop up; Facebook first, then Twitter. I wondered to myself, “What does KONY stand for?” I thought it was an acronym at first then I realized it was a person. I saw the words “Invisible Children” linked to it. I had heard of IC before, this stood out to me. It piqued my interest but wasn’t something I had the time to engage in until yesterday morning. There I was; just hopped out of a hot shower, before I began my morning routine I opened my iPad, engaged in social media, pressed play and watched something that was emotionally riveting and powerful.
After watching the entirety of the film, I wallowed in guilt. I complain about tossing and turning in the night and not getting a good rest when these children have to worry about being woken by a stranger in the night abducting them. I asked myself the same question many of you probably asked yourselves, “How did I NOT know about this before?”
A lot of controversy surrounds this campaign: finances, exaggerated claims, military intervention and questionable marketing tactics to name a few. See, I did my research. I learned in school that research was the backbone of everything – thank you to my communication professors at The University of South Alabama.
When I had the urge to write about this, I knew that moving forward I would need to get some facts. I see the relevance of all the controversial claims. Visible Children notes, "Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production.” I would like to note a few things about their spending from a variety of perspectives. In today’s economy – no one is going to work for free. I work in the travel industry, airfare rates are high and not coming down anytime soon. Especially when traveling internationally, to remote places in the middle of Africa, where these people are doing a lot of traveling to. Most companies, including non-profits, would say that their greatest costs are salary and travel. Film production, this is part of their business and how they are reaching millions. Without their filming would we have ever seen the YouTube video that has already amassed over 20-million views? They are using their resources to brand and market themselves. What’s wrong with that? Name a company who doesn’t utilize social media these days.
I do have my concerns. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t. However I feel that no matter how much money is spent on this campaign or fighting this cause, if one child’s innocence is spared then it was all worthwhile.