Posts tagged Lord’s Resistance Army

“Invisible Children” Gone Viral, Who to Believe?

The Internet has been deluged about “Invisible Children” and most recently the “Kony2012” video. According to a Wall Street Journal article on March 9th, last Thursday this latest YouTube clip had 44.7 million views and over 170 related clips.  Twitter users mentioned Joseph Kony almost one million times. What and WHO are we REALLY to believe? Of course, there are many perspectives about this awful topic of child soldiers in Africa. However, I think it is very important we have a measured response and listen to those people who live in the areas of Uganda and elsewhere in Africa where Kony and his troops of the “Lord’s Resistance Army” have infiltrated.

I am no expert on any of this, it is so far removed from the clean and Spartan classrooms that I have taught in while living in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.  Jungles and military are about as far away from what I experience on an every day basis while back in Minnesota now.  Difficult to believe I’ve been home experiencing a whole year back in my home state of Minnesota since my return from Astana, Kazakhstan.  What can I do about what is happening when young children are yanked from their homes and forced by fear and intimidation to become child soldiers?

Just the other day I met a young woman in my hometown who had a pierced lip and dark makeup with her bright orange hair that was dyed unnaturally under a black stocking hat to suit her horrendous, gothic appearance. She would be a charming enough looking girl if she went natural, she seemed articulate enough.  She too had seen the Kony2012 youtube flick which has been put out by the Invisible Children guys out of California.  They are calling for military action against Kony, the infamous leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. This young gothic girl was ready to put posters up all over town to bring awareness to this situation, I know she doesn’t have the money to donate to the “cause.”

What I did NOT appreciate what the Invisible Children producers did, when I watched this one hour documentary, was to confuse the issue about WHO the good and bad guys are.  If I’m not mistaken, they wanted to make it appear that the Christians were part of the “Lord’s Resistance Army.”  Any time there was a Catholic priest talking against Kony with a large cross on his front, they carefully cropped that out.  The three California guys had a long prelude about how they were going into a dangerous place in Africa and probably were going to be killed, but they were going to find a story anyhow. They went to great lengths to show that they didn’t know what they were doing with their cameras and how naive they were about what they were getting in to. The first part of their film was entertaining but narcissistic.

Now this latest Kony2012 shows clips of the Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell playing with his toddler. The founders of I.C. are making yet another emotional appeal for Americans to send them money to their organization so they can continue to bring awareness to this problem.  Yet there have been several people on the ground in their respective African nations who are saying there is a different view to what these well-meaning “outsiders” are producing.  All the hype of sending money to I.C. to continue this fight, well, what about the Christian pastor in Iran who was just executed for turning from his Muslim to become a Christian. Where is the outrage about that? (crickets)

David Batstone, co-founder of “Not For Sale” produced an article to what is really happening according to an African who was in Kony’s army.  Here’s another clip from Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist who claims that things have improved over the past several years.  We, as Americans, live a very sheltered life compared to what the people in Muslim countries go through who want to be Christians or what fear Africans are living in with losing their children to these marauding bandits that have weapons.  The children they kidnap are their shields of protection. Those parents who want their missing children back, must separate Kony from his child concubines and other child soldiers who are forced to kill. These parents want their children back!!!

Yes, the producers are “Invisible Children” probably have their heart in the right place but is this Joseph Kony really the “white man’s burden” to help save Africans from themselves? But are we, as westerners, to stand helplessly by as parents lose their children and as children lose their childhood?  Why is there evil in the world? No easy answers but awareness about human trafficking can help make us love those who are close to us knowing that life is fragile, handle with prayer.

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“Invisible Children” and “Kazakhstan Presentation”

I’ve had sufficient time to reflect on the one hour film I saw last week, but it still haunts me.  I think everyone in the auditorium who also watched “Invisible Children” will have a difficult time ignoring the young boy’s story named Jacob and his sobbing. Jacob missed his brother who was killed by rebel soldiers in Uganda. They abduct children from age 5-8 because they are able to carry guns. Jacob’s English was very articulate and he conveyed his hopelessness in wanting to die, to go to heaven to see his brother again. His crying was not typical of the whimpers you would normally hear, it was more of an unearthly high pitched groan. It probably got the cameraman (one of three southern California guys out on an adventure to get a story) crying too.

What is interesting about these three guys (you can look it up on imdb.com yourself) is that they were looking for an adventure that would have an impact. They were kind of like Peace Corps types but in hyper mode with cameras to go where Peace Corps would never allow volunteers to go to, such as Sudan. Once they found the children in Uganda who were walking from the rural areas of the jungle into cities for protection under verandas of hospitals or bus parks, they knew they had to report this to the rest of the world.  One comment that I recall from the movie is that they said the difference between the children they encountered in Uganda and the children in the U.S. is that these kids don’t cry anymore.  Normal kids cry, but they were way beyond having any hope of getting help from the outside world.  Some had seen terrible atrocities in their village.  Jacob had seen his brother murdered by these marauding bands of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), fortunately he and his friend had escaped.

Another thing that I can’t get over is the sentence I heard several times “Fear is an understatement.”  The whole countryside is living in fear of these rebels who were armed by the powers in northern Sudan.  That is no life to live to be constantly on the move, where do the children find food to eat?  They are certainly not getting their education but only learning how to survive day to day.  “Fear is an understatement.” Is there a hyperbole for the word “fear” which our English language does not provide to truly understand what these children are suffering?

Now I want to go to an 8 minute clip probably done by a young Kazakh man living in Czech republic.  I don’t think what he puts together as “Kazakhstan Presentation” on Youtube.com would be sanctioned by the Kazakhstan’s government.  Yet it is indicative of what is going on with the human trafficking from the rural areas of Kazakhstan to the big cities of Almaty and Astana.  If I were a mother of a Kazakh girl and one who dresses provocatively, I would warn her of the great dangers that are out there.  Traffickers are quick to snatch up the “beautiful ladies” and bring them to brothels in the cities.  So, what this filmmaker is promoting essentially is sex tourism.  Watch it for yourself and see if there is something not right about it.  Well, it starts out with Sasha Cohen and Barot so you know that it is offensive already to a normal Kazakh person.

Is it just me or am I being too hyper sensitive to all this human trafficking?  The more I see and read, the more I KNOW we live in a fallen world. I am doing what I can to spread awareness and help the victims who get out of it whether they are child soldiers in Uganda or Kazakh girls trapped in prostitution or Uzbek men who are snared into working on building construction and not being paid for their work.

I’d like to get your thoughts on this from my readership.  I see that my blog spiked to almost 200 hits yesterday.  I think it is extremely interesting since I don’t write as much these days not like I did every day when I lived for 3 1/2 years in Kazakhstan, a land I miss.  Yeah, I know there are robots and trolls hitting this blog but I know there are real compassionate people who are trying to figure out what they can do to help Kazakhstan now that Peace Corps has left. I’m still very sad about that because I know that many of those volunteers gave hope to the Kazakhs in the rural areas of Kazakhstan.  I think there is something very sinister going on and I think if advertisements such as “Kazakhstan Presentation” are stopped, hopefully the demand would go down and the supply of young Kazakh girls would not be yanked out of their homes.

Check out “Kazakhstan Presentation” and buy the documentary on “Invisible Children” or google what is going on with the Lord’s Resistance Army.  We have a crisis going on here and I don’t think I’m an alarmist!!!

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