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I just got off the phone with Invisible Children. I spoke with two folks in their office and got many answers and the chance to tell them what a great job they've done with the film and getting the word out about the children and war of Northern Uganda.

Essentially, they admit to being a better mouth at this point than feet and hands. When asked why they've chosen to be feet and hands AND a mouth instead of just the best mouth telling the truth about the war in Uganda they can be, they weren't able to articulate a specific response. I sense that they grew so attached to Joly (a woman they met in Uganda while making the film) that they saw an opportunity to love her and help a small number of children in Uganda by making her the director of a child mentoring program currently serving 300 kids. The program pays school tuition for the children and provides limited amounts of other support: clothes, food etc. This is good work from what I can tell, though I've not been there to see it in action. If you have, your first hand recollections are needed.

I asked why they didn't remain a mouth and steer the money and time and talent of their compassionate audience to one or many of the numerous organizations, faith-based and not, already working in the area - the hands and feet. Again, no specific reason other than being moved to do all they knew to do at the time. They saw the need and did what they could.

There seems to be a sense, from this conversation with IC today, that NOW they are regrouping and reevaluating their efforts in Uganda - trying to see what they could do better. They are working to build relationships with other relief groups in Uganda to create synergy and not duplicate efforts. They are working to get more of the money from bracelets sold on the IC site to those meeting the needs of the invisible children. They are working to become a non-profit (I was shocked that they haven't done this yet!) and have met with government leaders and even gave a tour of their region and work to the Ugandan president's daughter - who was shocked by the truth of what's going on in Northern Uganda. She had no idea.

But now she does. And so do we. And we all have to decide if we'll be hands, feet, mouths or all of the above on behalf of the children of Uganda and the world without basic needs and knowledge of a loving God.

I'm waiting on a call from IC's church relations guy who e-mailed me wanting to talk and I hope to learn even more from him and build some kind of relationship with IC, if for no other reason than to just keep interested SHLOG readers informed on progress and need in Uganda.

I'm very committed to the holistic long-standing faith-based work of Compassion International (working in Uganda and around the world) and don't feel the need to invest more of myself in another relief organization at this time. But if you have yet to join hands with a group of people like this to meet the needs of children in the world, consider Invisible Children as an option - watch, ask questions, demand results, make them earn your trust, pray for them, work with them, contribute time and talent and cash and let's see what faith in action can accomplish.

One last thing. I asked Ben at IC how we could pray for them and here are a few requests of their and few of my own:
1. Rest and attention to personal relationships. Working around the clock as they do makes it hard to get sleep, stay healthy and of course tend to wives, girlfriends and friends. Pray that they get rejuvenated and reattached to those they love.

2. They need a vehicle to carry supplies from South Uganda to Northern Uganda. This costs money. Donations can be made through their site (invisiblechildren.com".

3. Wisdom. Pray for older wiser people to help them see and steer well in this time of restructuring and rethinking IC. Pray for the folks they currently have to be good listeners, clear communicators, strategists, and lovers of God and people above all else. This is a critical time, I believe, as they strive to build hands and feet (on the ground aid) as large as their mouth (the film).

4. Bridges. Pray that relationships with the Church here and in Uganda and Sudan are built and that lessons and aid flow in all directions.

5. Slow growth. Odd sounding I know but the first person I spoke with at IC said "to be honest" she felt IC took off faster than it was ready for and is just trying to catch up. They have more interest than solutions and they know it. So slow growth is one way to catch up and do the best job for the people of Uganda. My fear being that continuous press and interest could lead to splash without substance and teach a generation of folks that big ideas and campaign bring about no real change. Solutions have to have time to evolve. But I could be wrong. Way wrong. Let's ask God and see what He does.

I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

Thanks to the folks at IC for taking my call today.


Blogger Jules said...

thanks for the update. I posted a link here today to the IC video and hope to update tomorrow. One question. Has our Gov. taken any action? If you know, it would be great to hear about it.

Blogger Brody Harper said...

That sounds similar to a certain "Anonymous" writer earlier.

"It seems like they are (were) more focused on getting the message out as soon as possible and are now currently trying to get others involved without a full-proof "Compassion International" business plan in effect. They are students who accidentally found something out... how are they supposed to know what to do?"

thanks for the updates.

Blogger Anna said...

To find out more about what our government is doing to help end this war in Uganda and to get up-to-date news from the ground in Uganda, visit www.ugandacan.org.

For specifics on how to pray for Uganda, visit www.helpforuganda.org


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