Feeling led to help protect the vulnerable? Here are some ways to get involved

World Concern helps protect children and empower people living in poverty to improve their lives, and protect themselves from becoming victims of injustice. If you’ve been feeling led to help the poor and oppressed, here are some simple ways you can take action.South Sudan kids holding hands.

  1. Help transform a village in South Sudan by providing education, job skills, food security, clean water and better health to the families living there. Visit www.worldconcern.org/onevillage to learn more.
  2. Sign up for the “Free Them” 5k to help stop human trafficking. This event supports programs that teach children and women to protect themselves and offer opportunities to be educated and earn income safely. Even if you can’t attend the event, you can start a personal fundraiser and help spread the word.
  3. Peacemaking is the priority of Christian Veterinary Mission in Northern Uganda. Learn how they’ve helped bring God’s love and peace to this region plagued by violence at www.cvmusa.org/PeaceVillages.
  4. Join Women of Purpose, a group that equips you to advocate for child protection and supports programs through monthly giving that provide vulnerable women and children opportunities to overcome the factors that put them at risk.

KONY 2012 — One piece of the poverty-injustice puzzle

The viral KONY 2012 awareness campaign around Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is succeeding in breaking through apathy and engaging people with the atrocities taking place in South Sudan, Congo and Uganda. For that I am very grateful. It misses the nuances of the issue, but it still brings light to this injustice. I see the effects of violence and injustice as I travel to World Concern’s programs in incredibly poor places. The LRA’s reign of terror is part of this injustice, and it must end. Oppression, slavery and murder must end throughout the world.

Joseph Kony and the LRA.
Joseph Kony and the LRA are among the most notorious perpetrators of violence and injustice.

Where does someone like Joseph Kony come from? Wherever people have more power than others, there is oppression. Where people have no power, they are taken advantage of, exploited and abused. Oppression happens in every nation in the world. Kony is a clear example that is being brought to light. We need to shine that same light on violence and injustice, as well as their sources, and take the discussion beyond a single person.

It is our nature to seek simple solutions. In some ways this is as simple as Kony needs to be stopped. But that is where the simplicity ends. In this case, an army must be demobilized. The cycle of poverty that creates vulnerability to abuse needs to be broken as well. Empowering people through economic security is the best defense against the Konys of this world.

Capturing Kony would be a huge victory and one we would all celebrate. But unfortunately, it won’t end the violence in South Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, or other places. As strongly as this campaign advocates for involvement by the U.S. government to defeat one person, let us advocate for the long-term work of defeating extreme poverty and its ripple of devastating effects.

Mom and baby in Raja, South Sudan.
A mother and child at a World Concern food distribution site in Raja, South Sudan. Families in Raja are frequently threatened by LRA attacks.

Real change takes time. This film took nine years to produce and it is just a call for change. The best solutions are not imposed from outside. Walking with the people affected to solve complex problems brings sustainable change.

We need this new found awareness of complex problems to lead to a shift in our sense of responsibility for the suffering around the world. The best aid is not delivered in a day by westerners, and of course, it cannot be solved over social media. I see dramatic change in the lives of vulnerable people when we help equip them with tools to take control of their own destiny long-term.

If the 70+ million people who have watched KONY 2012 get engaged and fight global injustice, it will have a significant impact ending oppression in these difficult places.

Comfort in a box arrives in Uganda

Seattle-based Swaddle Designs donated cozy baby blankets now being distributed in Uganda.
Seattle-based Swaddle Designs donated cozy baby blankets now being distributed in Uganda.

It must feel a little like Christmas morning in Uganda right now as people there unpack a shipping container filled with some of the highest quality clothing and custom flannel baby blankets-stuff that anyone here in the U.S. would love to own. The gifts made the voyage all the way from Seattle, bringing comfort to moms and babies at rural maternity clinics and meeting the needs of children and adults living in refugee camps.

Ten thousand articles of clothing — shirts, pants and more — donated by ExOfficio and worth a quarter million dollars, are being handed out by World Concern through partner agency Pilgrim Uganda to those with the greatest need. Among them are traumatized former child soldiers. Now young adults, these victims are struggling to erase the memories of being forced to kill against their will. With the basic need of new clothes met, they can focus on the healing work at hand.

The baby blankets, made by Seattle-based Swaddle Designs, are coveted by even celebrity moms. These same soft, organic cotton blankets will soon be wrapped around infants in remote bush areas during outreach visits, thanks to this global baby shower. Imagine the looks on the Ugandan moms’ faces when they receive their plush gifts. These blankets are not just about luxury, they’re actually good for babies. Swaddling reminds newborns of being in the womb, prevents over-stimulation and helps them sleep better.

Giving stuff like this feels good, but we only do it if it will not adversely affect local economies. That is the case here, as those we are helping are extremely poor, living in slums after being displaced by war. They simply don’t have money for clothes — and a clean baby blanket is an answer to countless mothers’ prayers.

Don’t you love thinking about donations here making their way from here to the far corners of the world? Such practical ways to spread a little warmth to those in dire need.

Moms and babies will receive blankets at rural clinics in Uganda.
Moms and babies will receive blankets at rural clinics in Uganda.