“Wherever you are be ALL THERE– pay attention and do YOUR thing- You can see how this has worked for a group from California who discovered their passion…”
“Inspirational”, “liberating”, “affecting” and of course “poignant” these are just a few of the terms, which were heard pouring out the mouths of awestruck participants, reluctantly filtering out of room 105.
Ben Keesey and Maggie Leahy’s “Life on the Frontlines” instantly implemented an aura of intrigue and fascination, it’s utilization of the word “life” in conjunction with the word “frontlines” suggested a notion of a much more involved, extreme approach to concept which we are commonly acquainted with every day.
Unfortunately life as we know it is extremely limited; Keesey’s and Leahy’s passionate session assisted us in moving away from the limited scope, and slowly exposing ourselves to what is present, but not always prevalent.
Ben Keesey and Maggie Leahy, worked on the hugely acclaimed worldwide phenomenon the Kony 2012 video, both are members of the Invisible Children campaign, with Keesey attaining the role of its CEO.
Keesey, as the best in his class as a high school student and subsequently studied in UCLA (University of California at Los Angles) subsequent to a brief Finance job in the company Deloitte & Touche; he was completely changed at the age of 21.
One evening, at a gathering of his friends and family he had had the opportunity to view a documentary, which his friends had produced. The documentary detailed information on the life of a young LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) victim, who had been abducted, forced to work under Kony, and had managed to escape to freedom.
Jacob had a dream of one day becoming a lawyer; unfortunately it was extremely difficult for him to fulfill this as he was constantly hiding away for fear of being abducted. Fortunately due to the help that he received through the awareness raised by the campaign, Jacob was able to attend school.
Moved and touched by this, Keesey made a life changing decision, and left his prestigious job, in order to help with the honorable cause; which encompassed a variety of different issues concerning children.
One of the main issues at hand was the abduction of children in Africa, and unwilling conscription into the LRA.
Leahy, first heard about the cause at the age of 16, where she was also deeply moved and touched by the campaign. She has been involved in the cause ever since.
Invisible Children, created a documentary entitled “Invisible Children” in 2004, detailing the horror of the LRA.
When asked about the difficulty of raising awareness, Keesey responded “ When you are pursuing things you will be depressed, because it will not always work.”
Leahy added “ But don’t ever think that you cannot make a change, you are all capable of changing the world”
The Invisible Children campaign worked thoroughly in the field of protecting the children.
Those who were in captivity were terrified of the prospect of returning as they were aware of the fact that they could be killed or imprisoned upon return home. In addition to this, they were petrified of the possibility of their family rejecting them and killing them.
In addition to the various actions Invisible Children took against the LRA movement, they created flyers (including information on how to escape- complete with maps/routes), radio stations, and also developed an Elikya rehabilitation center, designed to help children who had directly been affected.
Once children had been rescued, they would broadcast messages on the radio such as “we are safe, please come home, everything will be fine”, to those who were still in captivity.
Fortunately, the campaign has not been in vain, as the results are substantial. Originally, the LRA group consisted of 2,000 children, and today there are only 200 who are still in captivity.
Keesey and Leahy concluded with describing the whole process as “crazy but needed”.
Keesey added with a powerful message “There are a lot of needs in this world; and everyone has the ability to change the world for the better.”
Written By: Hannah Akhtar