A little secret for you all - If I was independantly wealthy, I would become an active advocate for The Girl Effect. Since I'm not, I do what I can. I would not classify myself as a rabid feminist. I wear skirts. Even when I run. I love sparkles and pink. I don't think women should be exactly the same as men - we're not. But I do think girls should be given the opportunity to be educated. I do think girls can help their communities and economies with their own skills. And I do NOT think that girls should be raped and hacked up with machetes as a tool of warfare, and psychological domination. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.
My interest in the Girl Effect leads to a variety of subjects, and non-profits that I support. I was first introduced to Women for Women International in 2007, when I signed up for a local race "Run for Congo Women" (and yes, it annoys me that it's not grammatically correct). WfW focuses on helping women in war torn regions receive an education - learning to read and write, but also technical skills - developing a skill, learning to run a business, understanding legal rights.
I have a passion for Kiva, where letting someone in the world borrow $25 can help them with their business - which they pay back, and you can give to someone else to help with their business. I've helped 89 inidividuals and groups of women to improve their businesses in 45 countries. I loan to Christian women, and Muslim women. I loan to women in the US and Uganda. Their repayments go to new loans, so they are really helping each other. I LOVE that.
In addition to WfW and Kiva, I support Refuge Point. My SIL was one of the first people to come to the US after the Refugee Act was passed. She works for Refuge Point, who provide protection, health and community service to refugees and refugee camps in war torn regions of Africa.
Which brings us to Joseph Kony. Kony is a bad guy. He is the leader of the LRA, and has spent 27 years stealing children, turning them into soldiers, forcing them to rape and kill people, and has torn up several countries in Africa in his attempts at domination. The #Kony2012 campaign has one aim - to capture Kony, and have him stand trial for crimes against humanity.
The Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children is easy. All it's asking for is that you be a voice. You don't have to donate, though you can. You don't have to contact your senators, though you can. All that is asked is that you watch a video, and share it. Your job is to create chatter - and if you're reading this blog, you can create chatter.
Non-profit work is hard. It's often not as successful as people hope. If you want to see the good, bad, and ugly of grassroots work, I heartily recommend that you read Half the Sky, by Nick Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn. It shows how hard it is to do a good thing, even when you want to. There's been some backlash that this is too easy. That it won't really accomplish anything. People like to poke holes. They like to feel superior. They like to say that a situation is too complex, that something is too simple. That it can't work.
But sometimes, to conquer an enormously complex issue, you need to start small - otherwise the task is daunting and paralyzing. Kony 2012 is as small and as granular as this specific issue can get. Catch one man. It won't solve everything. But if it works, it can show that Humanity outranks Politics. It shows us that together we can do a lot more than we can divided. And it creates a beginning - a roadmap - that we can use to get better, and deeper, over time.
I believe in positive thought. I believe that we are all connected. I believe that if people push a positive idea, it can overtake a negative one. Some people call it collective consciousness. Some people call it group prayer. Some people call it hope.
My Dad told me when I was a kid that if I did something, I could assume that other people would do it too, but if I didn't do something, I had to assume that no one else would either. I'm choosing to do something. I'm spreading the message. Watch the video. Make a choice. Make Kony famous.