KONY 2012 director Jason Russell isn’t the only Invisible Children co-founder using web video to direct attention toward the conflict in central Africa. Bobby Bailey, another Invisible Children co-founder who left the organization in 2009, recently created a film “I Am Mother” for The Voice Project, about another aspect of the region’s wars.
Abducted child soliders are often fearful to return home because of the potential for reprisal attacks against them. Mothers of abducted child soldiers in northern Uganda sing songs to call their children to return home, assuring them no harm will come to them.
“Some of the abducted kids spent six years in the bush and think they will be killed for the atrocities they’ve committed,” Bailey told Mashable. “They’re fearful that if they come back they will be killed, so a lot of work is going into radio and flyering to tell them to come home.”
Songs in the Acholi tribe’s language (who are native to northern Uganda), are considered the most effective way to call out to children because Internet, telephone and postal services are non-existant. Organizations such as Invisible Children are funding the construction of FM radio towers to play the Acholi women’s songs.
The Voice Project records and distributes songs welcoming the children living in captivity to return home to their mothers. Musicians Peter Gabriel, Emmanuel Jal, Broken Social Scene, Angelique Kidjo, Dawes, Delta Spirit, Joe Purdy, Billy Bragg, Edward Sharpe and Soko, among others, have recorded songs which are broadcast from towers in the central Africa.
Like Invisible Children, The Voice Project raises money by selling products. I Am Mother promotes scarves (sold for $34), decorated with the Acholi song lyrics. Bailey says The Voice Project would like to build a tower itself, though costs begin at $20,000 for a portable tower and can reach up to $80,000.
When it comes to creating viral video, Bailey says it’s a huge misconception that KONY 2012 became an overnight viral sensation. The spread, Bailey says, was the product of a decade of high school and college campus visits across the U.S., sharing the story of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Did he — or anyone currently affiliated with Invisible Children — ever dream 80 million people would around the world would watch Jason Russell’s 30 minute documentary? No. The non-profit had hoped half a million people would watch by the end of 2012.
“Technology met us at the right time at the right place,” Bailey says. “Social networks, and the built in audience we’d built up, helped push the film forward.”
Bailey says he wouldn’t be surprised if Invisible Children were to release a feature length film about Joseph Kony and the LRA, which he calls a long-time dream of the three founders (himself, Russell and Laron Poole).
Bailey left Invisible Children in 2009 to create a malaria documentary in 2009, after spending 10 days in an UN Internally Displaced Persons camp. He just returned from shooting his next film about a music school in Haiti.
As for his next big project, Bailey is at work on a casual social game, tentatively called “Social Hero,” with Hunter Heaney, founder of The Voice Project. “We’re basically looking at the entertainment space and the social good space and saying ‘What can we do to pioneer new models?’”