People are still talking about Joseph Kony. We'll say it again: That’s a good thing.
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is gone from northern Uganda, but thousands upon thousands of children are still vulnerable to violence or are recovering from the LRA’s violent oppression.
It’s time to step out from under the umbrella of awareness and get a little wet. It’s time to take action.
More and more people are asking, “What can I do?” Although this is a complex issue, there are at least three simple, powerful things you can do right now to partner with communities recovering from LRA violence -- and help those who are still in harm’s way.
First, contact your members of Congress. Tell them that you care about the children of Uganda, and ask them to not cut global health programs.
The LRA no longer kills the children of northern Uganda. Mosquitoes and infections are the main killers.
Jolly Olara, 10, sleeps safely at his home in northern Uganda under a mosquito net that World Vision provided him in September 2010 to prevent malaria.
Most U.S. help for people in need overseas is funded privately by American citizens through organizations like World Vision, and from educational institutions, foundations, and corporations.
However, U.S. global humanitarian initiatives are some of the most cost-effective, life-saving programs within the federal budget. Comprising only about 1 percent of the overall budget, these initiatives amount to $50 per American per year, or just 14 cents per American per day. For the small cost of an insecticide-treated bed net, a vaccine, a meal, or some medication, we can save the life of a child or parent.
Health programs such as these are part of the broader U.S. foreign assistance budget. In Washington and across America, important discussions about how we spend our money are taking place. In tight times, the foreign aid budget is often the first choice for cuts, even though it saves so many lives for so little money. Therefore, it's crucial that we urge our elected leaders not to the cut foreign aid budget.
When we bring all of America’s resources together, World Vision can serve communities in places like northern Uganda for much longer -- and make more of a difference in the lives of children. Supporting these efforts is the right thing to do: It generates good will toward the United States and the American people, and it expands markets for American goods, generating jobs at home. This is an excellent rate of return for the investment!
It might be easy to conclude that your voice makes no difference. But it can -- and it does. Voices like yours moved Congress to pass the Child Soldier Prevention Act in 2008. Voices like yours moved the president to appoint a Senior Advisor for Conflict Resolution to focus U.S. efforts on supporting peace in the region.
We find that the most effective way to draw attention and action from a member of Congress is to call his or her office. Use our call form to find out how to connect with your members’ offices by phone. We also provide a suggested script for your call.
Second, play your part alongside World Vision.
A partnership between public contributions, including foreign aid funding, and private support, like child sponsorship, forms the foundation for World Vision's work alongside vulnerable children and families in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These are painful economic times. People often ask, “Why should the government be spending money on this? Shouldn’t private citizens be doing this?”
During our more than 60 years of international humanitarian work, World Vision has found that focused, efficient foreign aid has generated real results, when private and public innovation are combined.
For example, thanks to private and public partnerships, the rate of children dying worldwide has dropped an incredible 60 percent in recent decades. In 1960, more than 20 million children died of preventable causes before reaching their fifth birthdays. Just last year, a report showed this number was down to 7.6 million children, and further progress against preventable deaths is within reach.
You can support World Vision’s life-changing work. In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the LRA continues to terrorize communities, children need protection. In northern Uganda, they need access to healthcare and good education. Their parents need opportunities to earn a living and feed their children.
Third, speak out against the use of child soldiers.
Americans must hold their elected leaders accountable to enforce the provisions of the Child Soldier Prevention Act, which aims to stop U.S. military assistance from going to countries that use children in combat.
Right now, it’s never been easier to communicate with your government leaders. You can contact them directly via Facebook or Twitter!
Last year, the U.S. State Department released a list of six countries whose national armies use child soldiers -- Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Five of those countries -- all but Myanmar -- receive U.S. military assistance. Notice that DRC and South Sudan are on the list. The United States has sent military advisors to assist the militaries of those countries in capturing Joseph Kony.
The U.S. government supports stopping Kony for his use of child soldiers, among other atrocities. However, the current administration has been publicly silent on what it is doing to stop the use of child soldiers in the armies of the DRC and South Sudan. Frankly, they don’t seem to view this as an issue of priority. We disagree.
We believe that taxpayer money should never support militaries that use children. In 2008, with the help of advocates like you across the country, Congress passed the Child Soldier Prevention Act. The law says that if a country receiving U.S. military aid is found to be using child soldiers, the country will lose that aid -- except for assistance that can help professionalize the country’s military and demobilize child soldiers -- until they stop using children in combat. If you'd rather not use Facebook or Twitter to send your message to the president, use our call form to contact the White House today.
A moment of widespread awareness about Joseph Kony -- and the countries and lives he’s hurt -- is finally here. We must use this moment to take concrete action that can tangibly help the children and communities who have been harmed most by the actions of Kony and his LRA.
Watch an interview on Fox News with Jesse Eaves, World Vision's policy advisor for children in crisis, about the recent conversations regarding Joseph Kony, and how this can be used to help draw attention to the continuing needs of children and communities in northern Uganda.