In the wake of the viral popularity and ensuing controversy surrounding the KONY 2012 campaign, Co-founder of Invisible Children Bobby Bailey spoke about the roots of the organization Monday evening.


Bailey made his first trip to Africa more than a decade ago with the intention of filming a documentary about the civil war in Sudan. On his drive through the east African country, a near-miss car bombing first introduced Bailey to the Lord’s Resistance Army, a militant group that employs child soldiers led by Joseph Kony and the focus of KONY 2012.


“You know those moments when you’re standing on the edge of something and you can only take one road or another?” Bailey said in his lecture, which was sponsored the Lecture Fund, Invisible Children Georgetown, College Republicans, College Democrats and The Georgetown University Undergraduate Marketing Association in Lohrfink Auditorium. “[The child soldiers] grabbed our hearts in so many ways.”


Upon his return to the United States, Bailey founded Invisible Children with his friends Jason Russell and Laren Poole. They used the footage from their time in Africa to make films they hoped would promote advocacy and draw attention to the atrocities committed by Kony. Despite their passion for freeing child soldiers, the founders worried about the sustainability of the organization.


“We didn’t believe that our generation would care about a cause thousands of miles away that didn’t affect them,” Bailey said.


In response, Bailey focused on creating an organization that operated differently from the traditional non-profit.


“The non-profit model sometimes feels broken,” he said.


Bailey no longer works for Invisible Children, and he is not pursuing a career with any other non-profit organization at this time. Instead, he is working to create a hybrid private-public business model through Social Hero, a for-profit gaming company with activist goals, citing TOMS Shoes as an influence.


Addressing responses to the KONY 2012 video, which has been met with criticism for presenting the conflict in an overly simplistic way, Bailey said that Invisible Children has faced similar attacks from its beginning but on a lesser scale.


“We’re going to continue and not pay attention to this,” he said. “There’s always going to be a critic.”


Bailey urged students to find one cause to support and advocate for, what he deemed their Kony.


“The greatest part is that a lot of what Bobby had to say is about Invisible Children but is also broader than that and can be extended to all students at Georgetown,” KC Harris (SFS ’14), co-president of Invisible Children Georgetown, said. “Anyone can take what he says to heart.”


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