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The CRS Take on Kony 2012

March 13, 2012 by

Many in the United States are learning about Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army through an internet video that has attracted tens of millions of views. Catholic Relief Services has been working for years to help the victims of Kony and the LRA.

CRS officially opened an office in Uganda’s capital Kampala, Uganda, in 1996 to help those displaced by LRA actions. Working with the Church, CRS began providing assistance to children known as the Night Commuters. These youngsters would walk from their rural villages every evening, seeking safety in larger towns in northern Uganda where they would often shelter at Churches in order to escape the threat of abduction by the LRA.

Although northern Uganda is no longer affected directly by the LRA, CRS and the Church continue work to reconcile former LRA child soldiers with their communities, reintegrating them back into society.

One of the heroines of this effort is Sr. Pauline Acayo, CRS’ Head of Office in Gulu in northern Uganda. In 2010 she received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the International Development Committee of the Association for Conflict Resolution.Sister Pauline’s work was highlighted in a Catholic Review article last year.

As the LRA has left Uganda, much of its impact is now felt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where CRS is working with Church and local partners to serve affected communities. LRA activities have had substantial economic effects on communities in the DRC, disrupting farming as families were afraid to work in their fields because of frequent LRA attacks and abductions. Through the OFDA, CRS and Caritas Dungu-Doruma are working to help these communities recover, sponsoring seed and tool kit distributions, training on improved agricultural techniques, and the development of community protection plans.

In recent years, the LRA has moved into South Sudan, a huge setback to communities that were just beginning to recover from decades of civil war. There CRS has supported the efforts of Bishop Eduardo Hiboro, of the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio to help these communities, including sponsoring a visit by the bishop to the United States in 2010 where he raised awareness of LRA activities on Capitol Hill, at the United Nations and in the Catholic community of the United States.

Here are some of the CRS resources on our work in northern Uganda:

Sister helps bring peace to former child soldiers in Uganda: Article on Sr. Pauline Acayo of CRS Uganda who helps to reintegrate former child solders of the LRA back into society, helping them to seek forgiveness for atrocities they’ve committed.

Ugandan Peacebuilder Receives Outstanding Leadership Award: Sr. Pauline Acayo is recognized for her work.

Raw Faith and Reckless Devotion: A man captured and tortured by the LRA escaped and now serves as a catechist in South Sudan.

The Baltimore Sun: Seeking Redemption, by G. Jefferson Price III: Ex-child soldiers forced to fight in Northern Uganda’s civil war return home and seek forgiveness in the Acholi tribe’s ancient cleansing tradition.


  1. Paul Jeffrey says:

    Here’s a look at ordinary Catholics responding to the LRA in South Sudan:

  2. Michelle says:

    So it sounds like the military help they are asking for should be going to Sudan not Uganda where the oil was recently discovered.

  3. Scott Crevier says:

    I appreciate all the good things that CRS is doing, but based on the title of this article, I was hoping to get the CRS take on KONY 2012. Many of us Catholics are still digesting the movie and all its criticisms, and trying to decide how/if to support the KONY 2012 project.

    • John Rivera says:

      Hi Scott. We appreciate your comment. What we are trying to communicate is that for CRS, responding to the suffering caused by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army is nothing new. We were in Uganda before he became active, we were there during the worst of times in Gulu and we are still there helping the people of Uganda to heal from the trauma and improve their lives. As many commentators have noted, Kony is not in Uganda and has not been there since 2006. But there are still many needs in the communities around Gulu, which is why CRS still has a presence there. I don’t think we want to get into the debate on the merits of Kony 2012. But we believe that to the extent that it’s called attention to problems in a part of the world we don’t often hear about in the U.S. media, it’s a good thing.

    • Raina says:

      Hi Scott, as a current employee with the CRS Uganda country program I would say that supporting the Kony2012 movement means supporting the good ground effort that is being led by CRS and partner organizations that insisted on standing firm and having a visible presence in the North when others would not. I have been honored to get to know my incredible colleagues in Gulu, our inspiring local partners, and the heartbeat of our work – the women and men who are active in CRSU’s programs. The healing process continues for sure, but it is so important that those who have watched the video also understand that the narrative of the North today is one of hope, forgiveness and pushing forward. So, what I hope you will consider rallying beside are those initiatives (and in particular those of Sr. Pauline Acayo) that give agency to the peoples of the North. Efforts that bring light and life, not terror and trauma.

  4. The work the CRS is doing is substantial and effective with the invested approach being implemented. The title of this article should probably be reconsidered. While the Kony 2012 video has brought attention back to the issues there, this article perhaps should be retitled “CRS Fighting Kony Long Before 2012″

  5. […] The KONY 2012 video led Trey and Cheyenne to making a bigger difference in the world by putting their time and talents into a project that supported CRS. Going a step further, they decided to take the Catholic approach to KONY 2012. […]