People in the local area, as well as across the nation and the world, are taking part in making Joseph Kony famous - but not for the reason you'd expect.
Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group in the African country of Uganda that has forced thousands of the country's children into armed combat and prostitution. According to national news reports, he is wanted for atrocities by the International Criminal Court and is being hunted by 100 U.S. Special Forces advisers and local troops in four Central African countries.
California-based Invisible Children, whose aim is to stop the LRA and all conflict in Uganda, launched their "KONY 2012" campaign to get the attention of civilians, politicians and help bring Kony to justice.
This poster is part of California-based organization Invisible Children’s campaign against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and the conflict in Uganda.
A 30-minute documentary about Kony, followed by a presentation by Invisible Children spokespeople will take place at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Harry E. Slep Student Center at Penn State Altoona. The event is free, but donations will be accepted.
Tasia Smego, 16, of Altoona, helped arrange the screening, and has taken part in other Invisible Children initiatives in the area for the past two years.
"I think it's a really important cause, especially because not a lot of people know about it," she said. "If that [happened] here in the U.S., it would be stopped."
The Kony documentary has gained millions of Youtube hits per day since its release on March 5, and has been splashed across social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
"A week ago, I'd say nowhere near half of the people knew about [Kony] that do now," said Jonathan Wieland, the Invisible Children East Coast representative who will be helping with Monday's presentation.
"This is making incredible progress raising awareness on this issue, not just in the States but across the world," Wieland said.
Wieland, a native of New Zealand, has been involved with Invisible Children since 2009. He will continue to travel with other Invisible Children supporters, called "roadies," after the Altoona presentation in support of "KONY 2012."
Wieland said the presentation will feature a questions-and-answer portion, as well as a testimonial from a Northern Ugandan woman who will share her story about growing up around the conflict.
"It's a pretty incredible testimony about how she's managed to come through that," Wieland said.
Invisible Children has produced other documentaries in the past, as the charity was co-founded by filmmakers Jason Russell and Laren Poole. Smego said the first documentary she saw was "really powerful."
"Once you see those images, you don't want to see them again," she said.
But Smego encourages local people to take the time and effort to see this documentary and gain knowledge about this conflict.
"Then they can take the steps to do something if they want to help," she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.