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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
KONY

Since the debut of Invisible Children’s ‘KONY 2012’ video, UW’s campus branch has received over 80 e-mails of interest.

‘KONY 2012’ viral video impacts campus branch

As controversy over the “KONY 2012” viral video continues, the founder of UW-Madison’s Invisible Children chapter said Tuesday that criticism aimed at the group at large should not be attributed to the local branch.

The national non-profit organization released an online video last week to raise awareness of African warlord Joseph Kony, whose “Lord’s Resistance Army,” kidnapped children and forced them to fight against the Ugandan government. The video spread quickly through Facebook and Twitter, and has since garnered over 75 million views.

But the video’s tactics, as well as Invisible Children’s financing and factuality , soon came under attack, including criticism from human rights activists who question the group’s support for military intervention and for the Ugandan government, that is also accused of human rights violations.

Others criticize Invisible Children for sending only 37 percent of its donations directly to Central African relief programs. Because the rest is spent on travel expenses, staff salaries and video production, critics allege the non-profit group has been deceiving donors who think their money goes directly to Africa.

But Marissa Mora, founder of UW-Madison’s Invisible Children group , said all money donated to her chapter goes directly to Central Africa.

According to Mora, last semester’s donations went to the “Protection Plan,” a program to fund construction on a center that helps Ugandan victims of civil strife, and to help construct radio towers, which aid in communication and warn Ugandan townspeople of impending attacks.

Although she said the national Invisible Children site clearly identifies the group’s goals, Mora acknowledged that those giving money through individual branch sites like UW-Madison could be confused about where the donations ultimately go.

Overall, Mora attributes controversy over the “Kony 2012” video to misunderstanding.

“There is a lot of misinformation that people are getting,” Mora said. “All the [Invisible Children] financial statements are online. It tells you it is an organization that raises awareness and improves infrastructure.”

Mora, whose chapter raised more than $12,000 during the 2011 fall semester, said those who only recently became aware of Invisible Children mistakenly think it is a new group, even though it has been advocating against LRA exploitation of child soldiers for over a decade.

Despite ongoing criticism, the viral video apparently succeeded in raising awareness of the group.

Within days of the video’s release, Mora said UW-Madison’s Invisible Children chapter received 80 emails from students hoping to get involved, and one seeking to give money.

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“A week ago today, 100 million people didn’t know about the organization,” Mora said.

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