Ivan 2012

My friend Jay Shapiro wrote this blog post about his experience in Uganda and his thoughts on Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 campaign. Jay is a filmmaker who spent the last 3 years making an inspiring youth baseball documentary Opposite Field  in Uganda. If you took 30 minutes to watch the Kony 2012 video, I really encourage you spending maybe another 10 minutes to read about Jay’s first hand experience working with the children in Uganda. He explains very clearly the complexity  of the problems in Uganda, and the flaws in Invisible Children’s overly simplistic message. Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire said in her video response to Invisible Children, ” If you are showing me as voiceless and hopeless, you have no space telling my story.” I can’t agree with that more. As the Kony 2012 video seems to catch the internet on fire, I am really glad we are going to see another story that, as Jay says

…includes some of the very kids who rose from those ashes which Invisibile Children seems to want to reignite and found a goal and identity which they are proud of in a game called baseball. And they are really good at it. And I can’t wait to MAKE THEM FAMOUS.

p.s. Why Ivan 2012? Ivan is one of the kids in the Uganda youth baseball team who has beat all kinds of odds to become a very good baseball player. 

This is going to be a tough post to write, but the popular Kony 2012 video that’s been going around on the internet in the last couple of days really got me thinking. I am the first one to admit that I am embarrassed that I don’t know enough about Uganda’s history, or international development in general. These are the things I really want to learn and understand.
I am just going to write about my personal experience, having just returned from Uganda in Janurary. I also had a discussion with a friend who has worked extensively in Uganda in the last few years. In a nutshell, I think it’s absolutely fantastic that such a powerful video is going around the internet to promote awareness about child soldier, but I think the solution is not channeling lots of money to try to capture this one guy. There are lots we can do for Uganda, and Africa in general. Making 11 filmes about killing a crazy man hiding out in the jungle is probably not the first thing I would do if I have millions of dollars of support. We killed Osama Bin Laden, trillions of dollars later, but did we solve the problems in Afghanistan?
When I was in Uganda, I met the most lovely people I have ever met in my life. The children and volunteers I met are the source of my inspiration. They are proud of who they are. I see not desperation, but hope in their eyes. Make no mistake, there are still LOTS to be done about their living conditions. Basic things like clean water and proper nutrition are still a luxury for many. Right now, based on what I saw in Uganda, Kony is not the biggest threat. LRA has been pushed out of Uganda since 2006. Their threat is their irresponsible government who has mismanaged the country for decades. The president, Yoweri Museveni has been in power since 1986. He used child soldiers himself to seize power. And now we are talking about working with him to hunt down Kony? It’s like fighting evil with corrupted violence. I am not sure that’s where we want to go. Not to mention Kony isn’t even in Uganda anymore. Are we supporting Uganda to send troops to their neighbouring countries? May not be the best idea for the region’s stability. 
Everyday, children in Uganda die of malnutrition, inadequate hygiene and health care, diseases, traffic accidents, fire in the slum, and many other causes because they have an irresponsible government. Museveni’s government needs to concentrate on building up infrastructure to fix these issues, I feel. I wish Invisible Children would take their resources and help build more schools for children or provide more micro loans for women’s small businesses. We can’t allow their government to be dependent on Western aides. To break the vicious cycle, the change must come from within. Children are the future. The more we can support them, the better there is a chance that they may grow up and come up with more brilliant and location specific solutions for their homeland, where they eat, breath, and raise families. I am not arrogant enough to think we completely understand their problems, and have prefect instant solutions. Something needs to be done, but we can’t do it for them, and it’s a lot more complex than killing one man. If we educate the children and women, corrupted government and mass murders will have no place in Uganda. 
With the Kony video, I am really encouraged to see Social Media’s power in raising awareness and facilitating social change. Credits must be given to Invisible Children for making millions of people pay attention to the problems Africa faces. I just wish they are not putting the focus on killing this one man Kony. The video is very well done and easy to digest, but what are we doing after we watch the video? We click “share”, and then? If you are touched by the Kony video, as I was, I really encourage you to read more about the cause, and then make the decision on how you would like to do your part in making a positive change in this world.

This is going to be a tough post to write, but the popular Kony 2012 video that’s been going around on the internet in the last couple of days really got me thinking. I am the first one to admit that I am embarrassed that I don’t know enough about Uganda’s history, or international development in general. These are the things I really want to learn and understand.

I am just going to write about my personal experience, having just returned from Uganda in Janurary. I also had a discussion with a friend who has worked extensively in Uganda in the last few years. In a nutshell, I think it’s absolutely fantastic that such a powerful video is going around the internet to promote awareness about child soldier, but I think the solution is not channeling lots of money to try to capture this one guy. There are lots we can do for Uganda, and Africa in general. Making 11 filmes about killing a crazy man hiding out in the jungle is probably not the first thing I would do if I have millions of dollars of support. We killed Osama Bin Laden, trillions of dollars later, but did we solve the problems in Afghanistan?

When I was in Uganda, I met the most lovely people I have ever met in my life. The children and volunteers I met are the source of my inspiration. They are proud of who they are. I see not desperation, but hope in their eyes. Make no mistake, there are still LOTS to be done about their living conditions. Basic things like clean water and proper nutrition are still a luxury for many. Right now, based on what I saw in Uganda, Kony is not the biggest threat. LRA has been pushed out of Uganda since 2006. Their threat is their irresponsible government who has mismanaged the country for decades. The president, Yoweri Museveni has been in power since 1986. He used child soldiers himself to seize power. And now we are talking about working with him to hunt down Kony? It’s like fighting evil with corrupted violence. I am not sure that’s where we want to go. Not to mention Kony isn’t even in Uganda anymore. Are we supporting Uganda to send troops to their neighbouring countries? May not be the best idea for the region’s stability. 

Everyday, children in Uganda die of malnutrition, inadequate hygiene and health care, diseases, traffic accidents, fire in the slum, and many other causes because they have an irresponsible government. Museveni’s government needs to concentrate on building up infrastructure to fix these issues, I feel. I wish Invisible Children would take their resources and help build more schools for children or provide more micro loans for women’s small businesses. We can’t allow their government to be dependent on Western aides. To break the vicious cycle, the change must come from within. Children are the future. The more we can support them, the better there is a chance that they may grow up and come up with more brilliant and location specific solutions for their homeland, where they eat, breath, and raise families. I am not arrogant enough to think we completely understand their problems, and have prefect instant solutions. Something needs to be done, but we can’t do it for them, and it’s a lot more complex than killing one man. If we educate the children and women, corrupted government and mass murders will have no place in Uganda. 

With the Kony video, I am really encouraged to see Social Media’s power in raising awareness and facilitating social change. Credits must be given to Invisible Children for making millions of people pay attention to the problems Africa faces. I just wish they are not putting the focus on killing this one man Kony. The video is very well done and easy to digest, but what are we doing after we watch the video? We click “share”, and then? If you are touched by the Kony video, as I was, I really encourage you to read more about the cause, and then make the decision on how you would like to do your part in making a positive change in this world.