Aware of the controversy that has been brewing about the video Kony 2012 over the past couple months, Loyola students Katie Minnick and Gabi Wilewska invited members from the Invisible Children Organization to talk to students on Wednesday.
“I knew a lot of students were on the fence about the issue, being swayed by strong voices and opinions on either side,” said Katie Minnick, 20, a sophomore business major. “I wanted them to form their own opinion about the matter.”
Invisible Children is a non-profit organization using film and social action to end the abduction of children to be used as soldiers in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa. This rebel war in Central Africa is the longest running war in Africa. Members of Invisible Children tour the world in an effort to persuade national leaders to join together to bring an end to violence.
Members of the Invisible Children movement have come from around the world to join in this effort. The group began as three teenagers making a movie and has evolved into a group of thousands.
“I learned about Invisible Children during a high school trip to Uganda and have been an Illinois roadie ever since,” said Chris Tuttle, 19, from Arkansas. “Traveling and bringing awareness is the most important part of our organization; action comes from the support of people.”
More than 20 Loyola students gathered to meet with the members despite Loyola’s unwillingness to advertise the event.
“Unfortunately Loyola would not let us actually promote the event via traditional fliers, posters, handouts,” said Minnick. “So I was very pleased with the people who did come, who truly showed an interest.”
The event began with the screening of Kony 2012 part one. This is a short documentary produced by the co-founder of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, which illustrates the danger that Joseph Kony poses to the children and families of Central Africa and the steps Invisible Children has taken to stop Kony and the LRA. Since the video’s release it has gone viral, receiving over 130,000,000 hits on YouTube.
Following the films, Jane, an Invisible Children missionary from Northern Uganda spoke to the students. Although Jane experienced the violence of the LRA firsthand during an attack at her middle school, she expressed hope for the future.
“I have seen humanity and I have seen peace,” said Jane, who asked that her full name not be used for safety reasons. “I believe all people should be able to experience peace in their society.”
During the question and answer portion of the event, it was very evident that students were unsure of the Organizations’s effectiveness. Other students also questioned the approach Invisible Children uses to gain support.
“Society responds to intensity,” said Eric Hurley,22, a senior polictical science major. “Invisible Children seems to be very passive in their approach, I wonder why they don’t show the effect of Kony visually.”
The members of Invisible Children expressed their appreciation of criticism, but expressed their belief in their movement and in their methods.
“I understand people question our movement and see many flaws in our approach,” said Hayley Anyadue an Illinois roadie for Invisible Children. “However, we want everyone to be able to get involved in our cause. Presenting our films and fundraising in the way we have allows people of all ages to be involved and not be scared to show their support.”
The actions of the Invisible Children Organization will have a global movement on Friday, April 20 during the Cover the Night event. Invisible Children believes that by making the face of Kony known, the chances of stopping him will increase. On this night, volunteers and supporters around the world plan to meet at sundown and cover every city with posters to raise awareness.