Saturday, March 26, 2011

Re: Invisible Children

>>>> I wonder if AGLI has an opinion about the group Invisible Children, which works in Uganda.  One of my students is involved and I feel encouraged to look into it.
>>>> Thank you,
>>>> Elizabeth Gordon
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Dear Elizabeth,

Thanks for your question!  I wish the best of luck to your students as they start to imagine the world from these perspectives.  I think the child soldier problem is an especially nasty one, and perhaps an especially good place to start.  It's incredible as children begin to realize and understand that these events are occurring every day, and try to incorporate that into their worldview and behavior.  Accepting the reality of these terrible events and the commonality of our humanity spotlights the severe disconnects in our individual and collective attempts at graceful lives of love, fellowship, and integrity.  This issue presents a real opportunity for our youth to mature in their understanding of their relationship with society.

I do have the internet, and based on my internet review I personally think IC seems like a great program, especially because of its strong outreach and education-of-American-youth component.   We need to seriously grow our universal-human-rights civil society, to strengthen the political will to incentivize and push our US state department to spend more effort in analysis of human development in Africa, and incentivize US policy choices to support this human development.

I reviewed Invisible Children's (IC's) materials, although I have not watched the "Invisible Children" title film yet.  IC certainly has especially and exceptionally good online media and personal outreach, in terms of both content and presentation.  This includes video interviews with affected indivuiduals, well-selected news updates, conferences, full-length films, nationwide tours, all with a A+ level "cool" factor of graphic design etc.

IC is exceptional at telling the story to young people in the USA and engaging them in participating in making a graceful next-step.

In terms of IC's portfolio of aid programs, IC has a high-school scholarship program, micro-entrepreneur financing and training, infrastructure aid with wells and schools etc., as well as farming cooperatives.  Its a mix of elements seems representative and consistent with the "state of the art" of the rural development industry in the region.  :)

In terms of impact analysis of development work, IC is consistent with the state of the industry in that accurately comprehensive impact analysis of development efforts is nigh-impossible.  (I will return to grad school soon to study this precise topic!)

I haven't participated in IC's stateside work, so don't know anything about the culture of its activities in the USA.  But I would bet it's a great program.  Other similar good programs, active in different regions of the USA/Canada include:

www.zeroforce.org
www.genocideintervention.net
www.standnow.org

Thanks for the inquiry, and feel free to write back with any additional questions or thoughts.

Sincerely,
-Steven Bhardwaj
Rwanda phone: 0784114209
USA phone (transfers to Rwanda): (+1) 917-725-5122 
USA fax: (+1) 347-416-6273

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