Invisible Children visits campus to promote upcoming student conference

An Invisible Children “Roadie team” visited APU on Tuesday, April 9 to promote their upcoming Fourth Estate Leadership Summit conference at UCLA this August.

The conference is geared toward students ages 14 and up who want to “[promote] justice and basic human rights” and “make a difference” in their own communities and around the world,” according to their website.

The goal is to look at the current issue with the Lord’s Resistance Army, thinking outside of the box in order to equip students with specific tools in order to succeed.

Senior global studies major Candace Garcia invited Invisible Children to speak on campus after getting support from the political science, global studies and leadership departments. She became a supporter of Invisible Children in 2006 when they came and shared their story at her daughter’s high school.

“I am an interested person who is willing to facilitate them being at this school,” Garcia said.

Invisible Children is an organization founded in 2004 by three young men, Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey, to give invisible child soldiers a voice. Their goal is to stop the violence being committed by Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA in Africa.

Kony and his army kidnap children and youth from their homes and force them to either become soldiers or sex slaves. They pillage villages in the process, leaving death and a sense of hopelessness behind them.

“Currently, right now, today, four hundred thousand have been displaced from their homes,” Invisible Children regional manager Bryan Funk said. “The LRA currently is made up of approximately two hundred and fifty fighters.”

A regional representative for Invisible children Carlos Adan discussed why it has been so difficult to capture Joseph Kony.

“He, himself, and his splintered groups are constantly moving, and that’s always been the issue from day one,” Adan said.

Invisible Children’s goal to stop Kony spread worldwide last year with the KONY 2012 campaign.

Invisible Children has two parts to their action plan—stateside and overseas.

Adan said that stateside, “our big push is that of civil action.” They travel around the country speaking to youth and young adults. They have also met with over 250 senators and other political leaders in order to ignite political and governmental action.

Adan said this past year has been about lobbying government. This has led to achievements such as the the signing of the Rewards For Justice bill on January 15.

“This different approach, this different push to bring him to justice, to catch up with him, is the multi-pronged approach of the act of seeking him and the encouragement of defection,” Adan said.

The goal of lobbying for them is to first encourage the government officials to sign the bill and then to maintain their commitment for the bill.

“These congressional leaders, these senator leaders, they are paying attention like never before, and we are getting diplomatic action on our end like we haven’t had in the past,” Adan said.

Overseas, Invisible Children has a number of programs to help the soldiers, women and children safely defect out of the LRA. They drop defection fliers over the most highly populated LRA areas to help encourage defection through their protection program.

Invisible Children has a rehabilitation center located in Northern Democratic Republic of Congo (NDRC) for LRA defectors, with various types of therapy, including art therapy, for ex-soldiers. They also have a radio networking program for villages in Africa. These radio networks warn villages of the direction that the LRA is taking in order to give them time to escape from a potential massacre.

“The biggest kind of push, in the last year, since KONY 2012 has been directly working on bringing Joseph Kony out of the jungle,” Adan said.

Invisible Children will announce the next step in their plan against Kony at the upcoming conference.

There are some controversies over whether or not the organization is doing what they actually claim to be doing, as well as where the organization allocates their funds.

Garcia, however, disagrees. She is a self-described “over-the-top supporter” of Invisible Children and says she has researched the organization thoroughly.

“They are mobilizing a generation,” Garcia said. “Anybody that is in doubt needs to take it upon themselves to go to their website and look at [the facts] for themselves.”

Sophomore music major Anna Curalli shares a similar opinion and believes Invisible Children has been doing good.

“There has simply been a lot of controversy about the leader of Invisible Children and what he is doing with the organizations funds,” Curalli said.

For more information about the upcoming conference, visit their page here.