Ways to Help Central Africa and Countries Affected by the LRA

In response to my recent criticism of Nick Kristof’s Kony2012 column, one commenter asked that I offer up better solutions:

I personally would prefer it if “armchair theorists” who have taken Invisible Children to task would also say things like, ‘Although I will not be joining the Kony 2012 campaign, I did make a small donation to organization ABC because I believe their work in central Africa is doing XYZ,’ and then provide a link to ABC’s website.

To address that comment, I’ve added some links below to a few of the many organizations working on the ground in Central Africa. I’ve included four countries: Uganda, because of its connection to Kony and the Invisible Children campaign; and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and Central African Republic because of the LRA’s continued presence in those countries.

When applicable and as requested, I’ve made a note if the organization is one my husband and I have personally supported. I also have included a few US organizations that make it clear on their website exactly what local groups they work with in Africa. I especially like organizations that encourage you to give directly to those localized programs.

Lastly, I’ve offered some ways to help besides making “a small donation to organization ABC,” and here’s why:

I’m not a believer in check-written guilt alleviation. If you just feel bad for people in Central Africa, you’re doing it wrong. You won’t feel better for long by pitying them; you’ll only feel better by becoming one with them, whatever emotions that may bring. Unfortunately, too often we throw money at issues to solve our guilt, and instead we only encourage our own apathy moving forward. Learning to love people and see things through their eyes takes more effort than that. So if long-term compassion is something you’d like to show, I hope you’ll look at the last section with at least the same interest as the lists above it.

Finally, I’d like to add my gratitude to Invisible Children for starting a conversation. While I may not agree with the policies they support or the way they chose to tell this story, I am still glad for the discourse; and I’m thankful for the people who will continue to talk about and care for Central Africa for years to come, including those who work for IC.

Uganda:

Uganda Child Rights NGO Network

Concerned Children & Youth Association (CCYA)

Art for Children Uganda

Friends of Orphans
Along with looking into this group’s work, you may also want to consider this critique of Kony2012 from its founder, who does not support military action. Here’s an excerpt:

I support the peaceful means of ending this conflict rather than the military approach. I encourage it continually, since it has brought tangible results and has saved many lives that would have been otherwise lost to the war. The people of Northern Uganda believe more in a peaceful means of resolving this conflict because it has been tried and it has worked, they have seen the result.

What we want is to stop the war in a way that will not cause any more atrocities. We’ve shed too much blood. Nobody in northern Uganda supports Joseph Kony; we are tired of wars and want to look at ways in which sustainable peace can be restored.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC):

Eastern Congo Initiative

Falling Whistles – A group we’ve supported that works similarly to Invisible Children in advocating for and helping to rehabilitate the DRC’s child soldiers and victims of sexual assault. They give to localized Congolese organizations and promote those organizations clearly on their site.

COPERMA – A group we’ve supported after reading about their work through a guest post on Nick Kristof’s blog. They work with women victims of the Congolese war.

South Sudan:

South Sudan Scholarship Foundation
SOS Children’s Villages – South Sudan Emergency Relief

Central African Republic:

Aid for Africa – and specifically their Girls’ Education Fund.
Living Water International in Central African Republic – a local partner of Charity: Water, with whom we’ve partnered financially in the past.

Central African Republic currently has a huge number of refugees and, along with them, the difficulty of trying to protect everyone in an unstable and violent atmosphere. The Humanitarian and Development Partnership Team (HDPT) has an extensive list of development organizations working with refugees and other people at risk of violence and exploitation by the LRA and other militant groups, available upon request.

Other Ways to Help

Learn more about child soldiers.

Child soldiers exist all over the world, not just in Central Africa. Child Soldiers International has a lot more information about the general problem and specific countries in which it happens. The more you know about this human rights atrocity, the better you can asses how to respond in a way that is efficient and saves the most lives.

Pray and involve your faith community.

It’s amazing how much people of faith can learn to identify with others by praying for their welfare. If you are a spiritual person, consider prayer for the region and for child soldiers in general. After learning more about the issue, involve your congregation in practical work for change.

Support local survivors.

Recovering child soldiers and sexual assault victims arrive in the United States every day – many of them having escaped the LRA and other dangerous para-military groups. You might be shocked by how many refugees live in your community and how much trauma your neighbors have experienced. If you want to make a long-term difference for victims of war in Africa, help the refugees who have been resettled down the street from you.

Stop modern slavery.

Ultimately child soldiering is a form of human trafficking and forced labor. Consider working toward solutions on a broad basis by becoming active in the modern abolition movement. If this movement interests you, contact me for more information about DC Stop Modern Slavery and other local abolition efforts.


(Special thanks to The Sojourner Project for a number of the leads in Uganda. / Photo by Stella Bogdanic)

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