Here’s a perfect picture of what’s wrong with part of America: Kids, yes kids, duped by charity.
No one doubts the generosity of Americans. But charity must be researched first. And that’s what so many Americans just don’t do.
It would bother me less if it weren’t adults misleading kids. And I wouldn’t be quite so enraged if a series of subsequent adults didn’t affirm the original lie.
According to the Windsor, Colorado newspaper, The Beacon, Windsor High School students in northern Colorado are holding a big fund-raiser November 3 to help children fleeing a war zone in Africa.
The problem is, there is no war zone.
I don’t know if the lead teacher, Jackie Doman-Peoples, believes this. I tried to find out by calling her school and sending her an email, but she didn’t respond. So I don’t know if she just went onto the website of Invisible Children and didn’t dig deeply enough into their pages for the “current history” of Uganda and just got spell-bound by the movie about Invisible Children which no longer applies.
I don’t know if she then just decided, wow, that looks good, just like thousands of American idiots read a Sharron Angle’s poster and decide, wow, that looks good.
Doman-Peoples could have set me and lots of people in Uganda straight, but she didn’t. And I worry that she is leading her students to believe that their hard earned donations would be used to build a school to welcome recent escapees who had been kidnapped and turned into child soldiers by the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The LRA hasn’t been active in Uganda for at least two years, maybe longer.
According to Human Rights Watch, the LRA was “pushed out of northern Uganda in 2005 [and] now operates in the remote border area between southern Sudan, Congo, and the Central African Republic.”
So there aren’t any children fleeing an army that no longer exists in a war zone that isn’t.
The Beacon fed into the online version of a major Ft. Collins newspaper, the Coloradoan, where it reappeared.
So, we know the Beacon didn’t fact-check, and we know the Coloradoan didn’t fact-check the Beacon, and we know that Doman-Peoples didn’t take the opportunity to tell me that she didn’t believe what was reported about her.
Now to be sure, the LRA is still a force to be reckoned with, but not in northern Uganda. This weekend the leaders of a number of African nations met in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR), to plan a strategy to finally wipe them out.
This is because the LRA was defeated in northern Uganda, southern Sudan more than two years ago by a proactive Ugandan military mixed with adroit international diplomacy.
The African leaders met in Bangui to discuss the LRA, because that’s the country in which the LRA is now most active. The renegade leader, Joseph Kony, fled northern Uganda when his dwindling forces were being routed and is probably in a hold-up in Darfur, much closer to the CAR than Uganda.
LRA is now active in a place that’s as far from northern Uganda as Windsor is from Las Vegas or St. Louis. The displaced kids from this new war zone can’t be helped in northern Uganda. And unfortunately, these new war zone areas are far too unstable for schools of any kind at the moment.
My irritation is certainly not with the generous souls of those kids in the high school, or even with the good intentions of someone like Donam-Peoples. There are plenty of children still in northern Uganda who still need assistance from the war which ended two years or more ago. They will likely need assistance the rest of their lives.
But I’m mad as hell that the implication is that the war continues, there! It doesn’t! Or that innocent kids are still being displaced, there. They aren’t!
This is also a story of what happens to NGOs when they become unnecessary. They won’t admit it. According to Mark Jordhal, whose wonderful Ugandan blog first broke this story, Invisible Children doesn’t deny that fund-raisers are still using their materials, particularly the film, which claims that the war in Uganda continues.
Their website, under the page “History of the War”, has recently updated the facts. But their promotional materials remain steeped in the past, and it is that pitch, that kids are being kidnapped and escaping into Invisible Children’s welcoming arms in northern Uganda, which is a serious outright lie.
So if Donam-Peoples checked with Invisible Children, a charity which has accomplished a lot of good work in northern Uganda, she could have been misled from the getgo, because that’s what their site does. And good gracious me, why on earth would we question a good American charity?!
It’s so important to the peoples in northern Uganda/southern Sudan – and particularly their children – that we recognize their victory. Claiming that a war still exists trashes their victory and discounts their noble hopes for the future.
There is no excuse for this.
Even though Invisible Children is still showing their film literally to this day to raise money. A film which claims the war continues.
The film was shown Tuesday on the Main Campus of Temple University. Perhaps at the end of the showing the presenter explained it was no longer happening in Uganda, I don’t know. But this once good charity, having run out of its main justification for income, can’t seem to move on. There’s a lot of good charity work left in northern Uganda. This aspect to this story is a story in itself.
But I can’t get over the fact that children are being misled. You don’t muster the power of kids without knowing the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth. It’s called:
Katherine Popowski who wrote for the Beacon didn’t. And then David Persons, the editor of the Beacon didn’t. And by the time that the senior editor of the Coloradoan, Robert Moore, didn’t, it almost seems… true. And Doman-Peoples didn’t let me know if she did or not.
I held the publication of this post for two days to give all the above a chance to comment. I made phone calls to the school, sent emails to the teacher, the newspapers, the on-line reporter. Not one response. Not one email in reply.
They aren’t alone.
This may be the biggest problem in America, today. Not Knowing the Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth. But more importantly, not caring. Standing by your lie.
Thanks to Mark Jordahl in Kampala for bringing this to my attention. Take a look at his excellent blog, Conserve Uganda.