Carol Harnett

Chairperson, Health & Performance Innovation Institute


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How can the TED community help inform people about some of the issues associated with Kony 2012 & Invisible Children?

Maybe I've been under a rock somewhere but, until today, I had never heard of Joseph Kony. That was until I saw this YouTube video:

Kony 2012's mission is to make Joseph Kony famous by using social media and targeted famous people with reach. Their hope is that by making Kony famous, he will be captured and brought to justice.

It's been brought to my attention that there are questions around how "Kony 2012" and Invisible Children are using the money they're raising. That said, they're creating momentum. How do we capitalize on that and bring awareness to a global audience about the issues in central Africa?

This is an effort that the TED community can support - to spread the word and to inform about qualified non-profits that are trying to help.

I believe this is an idea worth spreading.

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    Mar 16 2012: You are doing it right now Carol! Keep it up!

  • Mar 18 2012: What can TED do? By creating the space for people to view content such as Natalie Warne's video TED offers each of us the chance to critically reflect. I checked the outbound links in the comment stream, and found them less than persuasive.

    I then viewed the web pages of the International Criminal Court. It was as long ago as 2005 that Joseph Kony and his cronies were indicted by the ICC. Seven years it took for this evil man to come to our collective attention. Seven years for him to continue to perpetrate crimes against humanity. That his crimes were committed five, ten or twenty years ago makes them no less serious. If it were your child that had been abducted and forced to kill or be killed, what would you want to happen?

    If we wish to judge Invisible Children - as some seem to want to do - should we not balance the relative harms? I can live with directors who are well paid, they seem deeply motivated, they have it seems worked for the common good. If they have failed to meet the required standards to run a charitable organisation I feel sure that the required corrective steps can and will be taken. Please note that I have no connection with IC other than being one of those who have viewed 'the video'.

    What of Kony? Kony must surely be brought to justice - for what good is a justice system that fails to try the vilest of criminals? The International Court is the place where the actions of Kony and his co-accused must be scrutinsed. IC want him there sooner rather than later. This is an aim with which we surely can all agree? Thank you Nathalie, thank you Carol and thank you TED.
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      Mar 18 2012: I appreciate your comments, Andy. I believe we need to show as much balance as we can around this and other issues. TED is a great forum to vet our beliefs, thoughts, ideas and information. Warm regards, Carol
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    Mar 16 2012: Thank you, Mireille. We're each doing our part.
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    Mar 9 2012: Most of the information in Kony's video is fictitious due to out of date data.

    The children militia slaves is not as serious as it was 10 years ago and those militants are not even in the same area today. Seriously, a popular video on youtube starts people thinking these thoughts are original and special and I have to hear about it all day "Kony for president" like presidents DO anything in the first place.....

    Non-profits... Sure... Because the C.E.O of Red Cross is a middle class American.

    When we donate rice, clothing and other trade items to Africans, you can destroy their ability to grow in this capitalistic world. Free food means those who do produce the food are not getting paid, same for all other trade items.

    You want to help? Send teachers to make teachers there - do missionary work for more than a month (not to just vacation and "feel" altruistic) - self-irony here, just going to vacation in Africa will feed their economy money as well. Just giving necessary rations to people doesn't help them; computers, internet, education and businesses that feed into their communities do.

    This Kony crap has to stop - don't say, do.

    Here is a REAL organization spreading awareness of Africa's place in the world... We should support the up and rising companies that want to help others, while providing jobs and resources to both those who are helping and employed.

    The world will get help, when we actually HELP not preach about helping. Like posting an already huge video with enough coverage between Facebook and Twitter on TED.
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      Mar 9 2012: Thanks for your note, Nicholas. In less than 24 hours, I've become much more informed about this topic. While I can and did write a dissertation on health care, I am not as well-versed on the political topics in central Africa. But, today, I stand better informed.

      That said, I like the approach Kathryn is taking. She is using the Cover the Night event to better inform people. It's a positive way to take the momentum Kony 2012 is creating to give people a way to help. I will do the same.

      This morning, I went out to FB and posted the information I gleaned from this TED exchange and others. I also went out to YouTube (over 52 million views so far), disliked the video and wrote a short post as to why. I also shared the positive information with links on Twitter.

      Here's what I've learned from trying to change human's health-related behaviors. Don't make people feel shame. Work with their emotions to bring them to a better place. And let them choose how to get involved.

      Personally, I've been to Africa. I also do work with education and Charity : Water. This experience with Kony 2012 has made me more committed to do even more.

      While I now agree that bringing Kony to justice is the wrong focus, I appreciate that people seem to need succinct rallying points. Maybe what the TED community can do is to help inform people in a positive way.
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        Mar 9 2012: "Here's what I've learned from trying to change human's health-related behaviors. Don't make people feel shame. Work with their emotions to bring them to a better place. And let them choose how to get involved."

        There can be no greater truth when dealing with groupthinking I'm afraid. However people are too easily distracted with a person or one idea that they attach themselves to rather than investigating the whole matter.

        Any publicity is good publicity, let's not give this part-time politician anymore of your thoughts and spend more time on focusing the actual help.

        Teachers to make teachers is the best help you can do... setting up workshops about home engineering, basic school subjects, internet skills, etc. In a world where surviving is increasingly supervening into the "mental hunt" we must provide everyone with education, so they can provide themselves with the means to help themselves.

        Want to do something really amazing? (Anyone) Set up websites that tell people where to go for their interest of study: Khan Academy for example. Teaching people where to look for information, to me, is far more helpful then just teaching them - but, teaching in Africa also is greatly needed.

        Sorry if I was rude in my first response, but TED is no place for mindless reporting and if it does become that, they will have one less advocate.
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    Mar 8 2012: While the video is touching and spreading awareness about Kony is an admirable thing to do, Invisible Children is an organization that you should read up on a little bit before supporting. Take a quick look at this:
    There are many, many organizations that are trying to support Uganda, and while Invisible Children might be getting the most media coverage right now, donating through a nonprofit might make more of an impact.
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      Mar 8 2012: Kathryn,

      You are right. I should have done my homework before blindly supporting the non-profit organization "Invisible Children Inc." I friend share with me this article:
      It is very informative and puts in perpective the whole picture of what is happening in Uganda, where Kony is not the only bad thing that is going on. There are more social problems that need to be taken care of, in order to truly help Uganda.
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        Mar 8 2012: Thanks for the article, Juan! I've been reading up on the Nodding Disease for the past few weeks, in particular. It seems to have been tied to a parasite common in the same regions as the disease, but a lot more research needs to go into this so we can treat the disease instead of the symptoms. Thanks again!
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      Mar 8 2012: Thank you for the information, Kathryn. As Juan said, I should have done my homework.

      Perhaps something worth considering is to use the momentum created by Kony 2012 to spread the word about Joseph Kony.

      So, maybe the idea should be, how do we spread the word about Joseph Kony without attaching ourselves to a questionable non-profit?
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        Mar 8 2012: I currently attend Michigan State University, and a fellow student organized a 'Cover the Night' event for my campus. I intend to take part in the event and distribute fliers and the like to raise awareness about Kony, but instead of following the "KONY 2012" format, I'm going to provide information that directs participants to other organizations that are trying to help. While I have shared the video on several social networks, I have also shared the links including information on Invisible Children and why alternative actions may produce better outcomes. We can use the popularity of this cause to draw attention to other organizations, too.
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          Mar 9 2012: That's terrific. It's a great way to use the momentum of Kony 2012 while directing participants to other organizations.
        • Mar 12 2012: Great idea indeed Kathryn. I am currently trying to encourage people in Denmark to spread the message about Kony to raise awareness of the area and it's problems, and to create a debate about the rather troubled campaign that Kony2012 turned out to be. If possible I would very much like to know what other organizations you have found, that do charity work in the area. A lot of people are getting rather upset and discouraged about the Kony campaign because of it's failure to send a clear and truthful message. So it is having the direct opposite effect of what was intended - at least in the community that I am involved with. So - it would be great to hear what you have found in your research about other NGOs!
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    Mar 8 2012: I totally agree with you Carol! I saw the same video recently and it was heartbreaking. I think the idea of putting the spotlight in Kony is a great idea that's worth spreading.