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Following its successful creation, development and launch of the LRA Crisis Tracker, in partnership with the human rights organizations Invisible Children and The Resolve, digital marketing and technology company Digitaria will send three members of its tech team most closely involved in the Crisis Tracker’s implementation to central Africa to see Invisible Children’s work on the ground as it battles the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Chief Technology Officer and 2011 San Diego IT Executive of the Year Chuck Phillips, multimedia Art Director Matt James, and software engineer Jonathan Dietz fly from San Diego Friday morning, arriving in Entebbe, Uganda, Saturday evening. They will chronicle their travels on Digitaria’s blog as they tour a variety of areas throughout Uganda, Rwanda and Central Africa that are integral to the history of the LRA and Invisible Children’s continuing efforts to raise awareness of the group’s activities and end its reign.
The LRA is a brutal rebel group responsible for Africa’s longest-running armed conflict. It has murdered and mutilated innocent civilians for more than two decades, across four countries. Their self-appointed messiah, Joseph Kony, uses fear and psychological manipulation to control the regime. The key to the LRA’s continued survival has been the kidnapping of children who are conscripted into their ranks, more than 30,000 since the formation of the LRA, according to UN reports.
Digitaria has supported Invisible Children’s marketing and technology efforts since 2005, and used digital and social media and other technological tools to raise awareness of Invisible Children’s cause. These efforts have helped raise millions of dollars to build schools for African children through Invisible Children’s successful “Schools for Schools” program, as well as a “Night Walk” of thousands of American youth that helped influence the U.S. government towards recognizing the African conflict and declare the LRA a terrorist organization.
Last September, Digitaria, Invisible Children and The Resolve teamed to launch the LRA Crisis Tracker, a website and mobile app that collects and aggregates reports from high-frequency radios stationed in some of the remotest parts of Africa, where the LRA has thrived. Shortly thereafter, the Obama Administration committed 100 U.S. troops as advisors to the area to help track Kony down. As a result of these and other developments, there has been a marked decrease in attacks, and more than a dozen captives have been released.
While in Africa, the Digitaria team will see a farming program established by Invisible Children, as well as the Village Savings & Loan bank, which Invisible Children helped launch. They will visit several schools established though the “Schools for Schools” program, as well as a counseling center where released LRA captives are repatriated. They will also meet several different Invisible Children representatives, visit the site of the Hotel Rwanda, travel the Nile River and go on a day long safari.
“We look forward to seeing how Invisible Children’s programs have changed the lives of people in Africa,” said Phillips. “You hear and read so much about it and see video, but it’s never the same as actually being there on the ground and experiencing it.”