Invisible Children, the nonprofit behind the viral Kony 2012 video, was shoved into the spotlight in recent weeks by a video about African war criminal Joseph Kony that no one inside the organization really expected to be as popular (or controversial) as it was. In fact, Invisible Children has been around for nearly a decade--it was officially incorporated in 2005--and has produced a number of videos about Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). And while Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell, the director of Kony 2012, has received the bulk of the media’s attention (for better or worse), co-founder Bobby Bailey is working on some projects of his own.
Bailey left Invisible Children in 2009, but he hasn’t strayed far from the organization’s cause. Most recently, Bailey worked on the video below for the Voice Project, an organization that aims to support the women of northern Uganda, the ones with children who have in the past been taken by Kony’s army (the army claims to represent northern Ugandans but for years their main tactic was to abduct local children and train them to become soldiers).
The Voice Project, which has been around since 2009, was inspired by the songs that Ugandan women use to call frightened former child soldiers back from the bush. "Songs have been such an important part of calling back these kids. They would hide in the bush, afraid to come back because of what they had done. There were kids who had to kill their own mother," says Voice Project founder Hunter Heaney, who first came across widows and survivors of the LRA’s war while working at a refugee camp in Uganda.
Says Bailey: "The content is really close to my heart. Hunter is a good friend and I wanted to help tell this story specifically around the song that the mothers are helping to bring the children home." The short film is inspired by the Voice Project’s work with the UN to build FM radio stations that can broadcast these songs, letting children know that it’s safe to return. The Voice Project is selling scarves--seen at the end of the video--with lyrics printed from these Dwog Paco ("Come Home") songs to bolster its efforts in Uganda.
This isn’t Bailey’s only project. He’s also working on a casual game (the kind you would see on Facebook) with Heaney called Social Hero that allows players to become social entrepreneurs. Bailey is working on another video, too: a 30-minute mini-documentary on music schools in Haiti.
As for Invisible Children’s surprise viral video, Bailey believes that we shouldn’t discount the nonprofit’s history as a contributing factor. "We were building a large base of high school, college kids, we came out to overnight events and were continuing to build that brand, that trust with the community," he says. But up until recently, the ability to quickly share content on social networks just wasn’t there.
Bailey doesn’t think Kony 2012 will be the last film we see from Invisible Children. "We imagined ourselves as a media company when I was there," he says.