In April of 2009, thousands of young people all around the country gathered overnight to symbolically abduct themselves in order to bring attention to those in Northern Uganda who had been abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). After the march we stayed at the abduction site until a media outlet and a celebrity showed up to bring attention to the cause. Channel 12 news was there before the march even started and around midnight Steve-O from Jackass showed up as our "rescuer." Cities like Chicago stood for over a week waiting to be rescued. Finally the small group that stayed was rescued by Oprah and received attention on her show. Needless to say, Invisible Children got the attention they wanted.
Over the past 5 years Invisible Children has been working nonstop to get a bill in front of the government to help pass Joseph Kony's arrest warrant into a law. Last week, Congress sign the bill without one single objection. Such a huge accomplishment. The next step was getting the Bill in front of President Obama to be signed into a law.
Yesterday, May 24 2010, President Obama signed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. In his statement from his Press Secretary at the White House he said, "Today, I signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. The legislation crystallizes the commitment of the United States to help bring an end to the brutality and destruction that have been a hallmark of the LRA across several countries for two decades, and to pursue a future of greater security and hope for the people of central Africa."
My favorite part of President Obama's statement is where he says: "I congratulate Congress for seizing on this important issue, and I congratulate the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have mobilized to respond to this unique crisis of conscience. We have heard from the advocacy organizations, non-governmental organizations, faith-based groups, humanitarian actors who lack access, and those who continue to work on this issue in our own government. We have seen your reporting, your websites, your blogs, and your video postcards — you have made the plight of the children visible to us all.
Your action represents the very best of American leadership around the world, and we are committed to working with you in pursuit of the future of peace and dignity that the people of who have suffered at the hands of the LRA deserve."
Goosebumps are the least of what I'm feeling right now. Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Central Africa will be changed forever because of a group of people that saw a need and worked relentlessly to fix it. I am so, so excited to be a part of this movement.
To read President Obama's entire statement visit: http://blog.invisiblechildren.com/2010/05/obama-speaks-the-president-declares-his-commitment-to-the-lra-bill/
To learn more about Invisible Children visit: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/
Some background on the LRA:
For 23 years, the government of Uganda and a rebel group called the Lords Resistance Army, led by a man named Joseph Kony, has engaged in Africa’s longest war. In recent years, peace was seemingly within reach, largely due to the Juba Peace Talks that began in July 2006. However, despite a ceasefire signed between the LRA and Ugandan government, efforts toward peace through the Juba Peace Talks were stalled on several occasions by Kony’s refusal to sign the final peace agreement. Kony’s absence at the peace agreement signing on November 29, 2008 proved his promises to be futile and ultimately disabled the peace talks. Furthermore, the ICC has obtained evidence that Kony used the ceasefire during the peace talks to regroup, regain strength and resume child abductions. Joseph Kony is the world’s first individual indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Since September 2008, hostility in the Orientale province in DR Congo and Western Equatoria in South Sudan has reached a feverish pitch. In apparent desperation and a renewed will to spread terror to DR Congo, the LRA murdered over six hundred and abducted more than one hundred and sixty children to fight amongst its ranks. More than 104,000 Congolese have been displaced since Christmas in attempts to escape the LRA forces. A civil war, originally contained within Uganda’s borders, has now evolved into a widespread regional crisis.
Invisible Children (along with many other organizations) now believes an international effort to apprehend Kony and rescue his child soldiers is the most viable way to end the most neglected humanitarian emergency in the world today.