Questionable Charity: Kony 2012 a scam?

In a small, crowded space with about 100 children covered in rags sitting on the floor, a small boy talks about trying to escape from Joseph Kony during the “Kony 2012″ video.

“I’d rather die,” says Jacob, a Ugandan child who hid from the rebel’s torment and cruelty.  Wiping his tears as he attempts to explain his situation, he captures the hearts of thousands of viewers of the online video.

Invisible Children, the charity devoted to helping former child soldiers like  Jacob, uploaded a short movie to YouTube at the beginning of March featuring co-founder activist Jason Russell discussing  with his young son, Gavin, about the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and its leader, Joseph Kony. Filled with powerful images and information, the video shows how the man behind the sufferings of the Ugandan citizens uses children cruelly. Invisible Children’s purpose was to make Kony so infamous, so known for his malicious acts, that the international community would demand he be caught.

“Kony 2012” became famous virtually overnight with over 82 million views on YouTube in 2 weeks. So many people posted and blogged about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, but  few knew anything more about the problem. Their knowledge was merely from that 30-minute video.

However, as the campaign continued, some people started digging deeper into the situation, questioning the validity of “Kony 2012”; they found multiple accusations to prove that movement is a swindle. First, Invisible Children’s own financial report showed that only about 30 percent of donations directly go to charity funding.

Secondly, in recent news, Jason Russell was reportedly arrested after being found naked on a public street while screaming and banging his fists on the sidewalk and performing other inappropriate activity.

Thirdly, a picture was found of the three men who are the main faces of Invisible Children, standing with Ugandan soldiers holding destructible guns. This photo defies Invisible Children’s mission of the use of film, creativity, and social action to end the use of child soldiers; it seems to show the group advocates the use of violence.  Ironically, the Uganda Army that Invisible Children is affiliated with, supporting their efforts against Kony, also uses child soldiers.

As a result, Invisible Children and the “Kony 2012” movement seems a little sketchy.

The Kony campaign is a fad. It lasted for about two weeks, just like every other new trend. By the third week, the topic gradually faded into the background of our internet world. Perhaps some people didn’t even care about the problem; all they wanted to do was to be a part of the hype.

If people actually cared for the Ugandan children, they would literally contribute and not by sitting in front of a computer screen tweeting and reblogging on Tumblr. People can help by sponsoring a Ugandan child with A little money transforms a child’s life with education, clothing, food, health care, and a home.  In addition, rather than donating money and blogging about the problem, people can donate clothes, food, medical supplies like band aids, and school supplies through UAPO (Ugandan American Partnership organization).

Like “Kony 2012”,  news of the disasters  in Japan and Haiti  spread across the internet with  people blogging and passing it on from post to post. Similarly, the awareness dwindled so quickly when the media moved on to the next new craze.Japan’s earthquake and tsunami victims are still suffering, but most people are focused on the latest “in” thing. Why should we only focus on the issues that are popular on Facebook?

People should be already aware that trending issues become popular and die away within a few weeks. As the issue comes to a stop, most people stop donating and helping. As a result, the victims will continue to suffer although the topic isn’t trending any more.

Don’t wait until a trending issue emerges to start doing good deeds; it should be done constantly. The Red Cross is a great and trustworthy organization to turn to.  It has been the nation’s premier emergency response organization for many years aiding victims of natural disasters non-stop.

Seeing young children endure harsh conditions is one of the most heartbreaking scenes that no one could bear. However, these emotions can lead people into doing hasty actions that may lead into a disaster towards the end. Therefore, do research before taking a stand.