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World Vision knows a killer worse than Kony

With about 100 million views in six days, a 30-minute documentary about Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony has become the most viral video in history.

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Kony 2012 caught the world’s attention faster than Susan Boyle. The video of her appearance on Britain’s Got Talent hit 100 million page views in 9 days. It’s far ahead of Lady Gaga, and the “Friday” song people love to hate from Rebecca Black, according to a company that keeps track of viral videos.

LRAFilmmaker Jason Russell created the emotional 30 minute documentary to make sure the world would know the name Joseph Kony, and the crimes he’s been accused of.

He described a plan to bring the warlord down by the end of this year.

“We have reached a crucial time in history where what we do, or don’t do, right now will affect every generation to come,” Russell says at the end of his video. “Arresting Joseph Kony will prove that the world we live in has new rules. That the technology that has brought our planet together is allowing us to respond to the problems of our friends.”

Just as rapid as the rise of the Kony 2012 effort has been the criticism of the charity behind it, Invisible Children.

There are concerns the charity pockets too much of its money and is only telling a part of the Uganda story in order to make its point and gain donations.

The conflict between wanting to do something, but not being certain that the way to act is through Invisible Children, has led a lot of new activists to a local charity that has been operating in Uganda for more than 20 years – World Vision , based in Federal Way.

“Our rehabilitation center that served more than 14,000 former child soldiers at the height of this crisis is still open,” says World Vision’s Rachel Wolff. “There’s a lot more work to do in Uganda.”

Along with millions of others, Wolff has seen the Kony 2012 video. The documentary doesn’t make it clear that there has been peace in Uganda for six years, she says, but the Lord’s Resistance Army is still a threat.

“They do continue to terrorize children and communities in areas where World Vision works in south Sudan, in the jungles of the Congo and in the Central African Republic,” Wolff says. Like Invisible Children, World Vision wants to see Kony brought to justice.

But there is an even bigger daily threat to the children of Uganda than Kony.

“One of the biggest predators you may not think about is the very small mosquito,” she says.

Malaria is one of the biggest killers of young children across Africa. HIV and AIDS are still major problems in Uganda as is extreme poverty.

“It’s not as exciting as a bad guy, but extreme poverty is killing so many children before their fifth birthday,” says Wolff.

Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign simplified the problem. Many critics say it oversimplified the problem, but the overall impact has been positive. The Kony campaign has boosted interest in World Vision, which has noticed more hits on its website than normal and an increase in the number of people who want to sponsor children in Uganda.

“Conflicts are complicated. Poverty is complicated,” she says. “It’s also so important to galvanize people and give them energy to feel like they can do something to make a difference because they absolutely can.

By Linda Thomas

Photo: Lord’s Resistance Army, lead by Joseph Kony, is considered one of Africa’s most ruthless rebel groups

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