Most of you have probably followed the coverage and controversy of KONY 2012. Myriad articles about the campaign’s merits and shortcomings saturated the media last week. Ricky Richard Anywar, the founder and executive director of AJWS’s grantee Friends of Orphans in northern Uganda, shared his own thoughts about Kony 2012 in National Geographic. Ricky’s response is based on his own as experiences as a child soldier and as someone promoting peace-building in northern Uganda following years of conflict:
I am writing from Pader, Uganda, because I believe the recent conversation about Joseph Kony, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and Invisible Children is not including the voice of those that matter most– the people of Northern Uganda. I know more than I would like to know about the LRA, not from watching Kony 2012 or reading insightful accounts of the conflict, but because personally I have seen it, have lived it, and have been in it. I was one of the now-famous “child soldiers.” I was abducted at the age of 14 with my brother by the LRA, and remained with them for nearly two and half years. We were picked up in front of our home; our powerless family members were burned to death in our grass-thatched house while we were forced to watch and hear them cry for help. I saw brutality beyond description. I saw tortures, rapes, killing, abduction, and war. Since 1999, through Friends of Orphans, I have worked to rehabilitate countless former child soldiers and others affected by the war to reverse the massive damage the LRA has done to my community and to our youth. I know how bad the LRA are and I demand for the immediate end to this conflict. I believe for this to happen, OUR voices must be heard.