Monday, March 12, 2012

A Call to Service

A few days ago, I took down the Kony 2012 video that I posted on this blog. I was confused and overwhelmed by all of the information pouring out online about this organization. After synthesizing my thoughts I believe in the message at the core of this video- war criminals should be defamed and caught, the global community has a responsibility to the innocent. However, what I don't appreciate about the organization Invisible Children is their obvious lack of cooperation with local populations. Yes, they did get many facts wrong, but the most glaring issue for me as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer is that their endeavor to parachute in, Rambo Kony and bounce is perhaps the least healthy or sustainable way to deal with this issue. It is fantastic that they are bringing light to these atrocities, however the best way for them to bring Central and East Africa to safety is by helping the local populations to take action and not neglect the country once Kony is brought to justice.

It is regrettable that there has been a serious backlash against Invisible Children. What so many people seem to be doing is throwing the very important baby out with the shady bathwater. Service, globalism and awareness are not things to turn one's back on when one organization makes some unfortunate missteps.

Therefore, friends, keep this flame alive! If you don't feel the need to donate to Invisible Children, please do something else service-y. If the Kony 2012 video inspired you, as it did me, but you were taken aback by the sad facts of the organization, don't forget about disenfranchised populations all together. I interned at the phenomenal nonprofit Jerusalem House, "the oldest and largest provider of permanent housing for Atlanta's low-income and homeless individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS." It has a fantastic history and has made pristine financial allocation decisions- so support them.

My time with Jerusalem House was nothing but phenomenal. The administrative staff was, and continues to be, selflessly friendly. The client population has an earnest desire to pull themselves out of the tragic situation they were mired in. And the children who live at The Jerusalem House are complex, wonderful young people. One of my favorite memories in my history of service is teaching chess to Cameron, a teen who was living at Jerusalem House with his HIV positive grandmother and siblings. It took a while but after a few sessions he dropped his hard front, trusted me with his vulnerability and managed a perfect checkmate.

Currently Jerusalem House is involved in the Home Depot Foundation's Aprons in Action Voting Competition. If The Jerusalem House wins then they will rake in a much needed $250,000! However, they need you to vote. Every day. So right now go to the Aprons in Action Facebook Page, 'Like' the Page and then VOTE for Jerusalem House. Do it again tomorrow. And the next day. Perhaps Invisible Children squandered their assets, but The Jerusalem House is worth the clicks!

PS feel free to share your thoughts about Kony 2012. I'm still trying to figure it out myself.

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