non-profits | March 12, 2012

Lisa Shannon: Seeing Beyond The Kony Hype

Few people in the world know more about Africa's struggles than Lisa Shannon. The author of A Thousand Sisters and founder of Run for Congo Women, Shannon gave up her business and fiancé to dedicate her life to helping women in the Congo. While Invisible Children's Kony 2012 video (and its subsequent rounds of backlash) has dominated the headlines recently, Shannon's article in Nicholas Kristof's 'On the Ground' blog in The New York Times speaks out on the real issue at hand—the lives of those affected by Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

Shannon says humanitarian crimes are taking a back seat to "questions around the role of westerners advocating to end mass atrocities in Africa, as well as useful dialogue on non-profit fiscal management." While these issues are certainly important, they should not overshadow the actual subject of the video in question.

Here's Shannon:

Questions about slick brand, campaign strategy, and non-profit fiscal issues aside, we owe...all who have suffered at the hands of the LRA — solid solutions. We owe them concrete steps toward capturing Kony. Dismantling his small but devastating force will require sophisticated surveillance. Cost-effective early-warning programs are needed to warn vulnerable locals of attacks. Demobilization, disarmament and reintegration efforts are available, some of them relatively simple, to help LRA abductees escape peacefully.

Shannon's tireless work to help Congolese women is an example of what is truly needed in conflict areas around the world. Despite the tremendous amount of media attention that the Kony 2012 video has generated, the voices of those who are truly affected seem to be lost in the cacophony. Shannon's touching book, successful charity and moving keynotes all have one purpose—to give Congolese women the voice they deserve. Real change takes dedication, persistence, and passion.

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web politics | March 08, 2012