Thoughts on MOVE:DC // a letter from Ben Keesey

To the thousands who moved,

In the days following the event on November 17, the questions I’ve been getting most often are, “How did it go?” and “Did it make a difference?”

I always answer, “Incredible” and “absolutely.”

A core purpose of this event was to create a really strong, lasting impression on world leaders. We wanted the event to be an unforgettable experience, leaving them no choice but to significantly increase their personal efforts to help stop the LRA. We wanted them to feel the energy, experience the passion, and see first-hand the thousands of people who want a peaceful end to LRA violence.

And it happened. Because you came to Washington, DC, so did they. Before MOVE:DC, this group of regional and international leaders had never before met to discuss the issue of LRA violence, and it was an experience they will never forget. When Assistant Secretary Carson took the stage, you gave him a 15-second standing ovation…he has never experienced that before. One week after the event, Secretary Carson traveled through the region and met with leaders in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I guarantee that your presence in DC had an impact on those conversations.

The impact of the event was far more than psychological, though. Numerous concrete steps were taken in the days and weeks surrounding the event. For example, when the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Central African Republic agreed to attend the Global Summit, the government deployed a team to southeast CAR to do a full security and humanitarian assessment on the LRA. From this mission, they learned critical new information about the location and activity of LRA groups near the Sudan border and shared this information with the other delegates at the Global Summit.

During the four days surrounding MOVE:DC, there were pre-event meetings with Secretary Carson; multiple meetings with all Global Summit delegates, many at the U.S. State Department; a White House roundtable meeting with the National Security Council Director for Africa; and an NGO forum hosted by the European Union.

In all of these meetings, one thing was crystal clear – in the areas of central Africa where there is international cooperation between the regional governments, international community, and civil society, the effort to stop LRA violence is working. In CAR, where there is great cooperation, 19 long-term LRA fighters defected—just in the month leading up to MOVE:DC. And in the last six months, there have been more defections than in the previous three years combined.

However, in the areas where there isn’t cooperation, the LRA is winning.

There remain three critical gaps in the mission to permanently stop the violence of the LRA:

  • 1. Sudan.

    Recent evidence suggests that the government of Sudan is allowing Kony and a large LRA group to hide in the disputed Kafia Kingi enclave of South Darfur. It is critical that the regional governments and the international community place strong pressure on the government of Sudan to prevent the LRA from finding safe haven in its territory.

  • 2. Resource Commitment.

    Operations in the LRA-affected area, including humanitarian, military, or otherwise, are extremely expensive. Even the most basic humanitarian services take a lot of time and money to deliver because of the remote and difficult terrain. Resources from all engaged parties need to be sustained or increased.

  • 3. Regional and International Cooperation.

    The LRA operates in four countries. In order to see an end to LRA violence, it is essential to invest time and energy in coordinating efforts to protect people from LRA attacks and prevent the LRA from crossing borders with ease.

There is not a simple answer to these complex challenges, but these gaps were discussed at length, and steps were taken to start finding solutions. This momentum will continue in the weeks and months to come because you showed up in DC by the thousands with a positive energy. Every single delegate expressed their eagerness to return home to share their experience of MOVE:DC with high-ranking officials in their government or institution, which will allow them to do more in their efforts to stop the LRA.

We will continue to follow up and follow through on the momentum we created at MOVE:DC and we ask you to do the same.

My sincerest thanks,
Ben Keesey

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27 Responses

  1. Abby Jenkins says:

    Bravo! So proud of you and everyone involved; 2012 has certainly brought worldwide attention to Kony.

  2. Crystal Dupuis says:

    Ben Keesey,

    You are an inspiration!

    Much admiration & appreciation from Canada,

    Crystal Dupuis

    #STOPATNOTHING
    #KEEPMOVING

  3. Nonnie says:

    I came to Move:DC with my granddaughter and her friend. I am so glad I did. We will never be the same.

    Your planning and execution of those plans was remarkable especially considering the age range of the attendees.

  4. Naomi says:

    Thank you so much for the update! Please keep us posted on any advancements in ending LRA violence. I will keep you, your organization, and the movement in my prayers.

    • Alexander Palmér says:

      Wounderful of you! But don’t forgett to keep LRA in your prayers to, cause lost souls like their need to find a way to the right track and find love instead of hatred!

  5. Jakub Soroko says:

    Awesome! Thanks for your job, do your best!

  6. Sara says:

    Thank YOU, Ben, and all the staff and volunteers at IC, for all your hard work, effort, and creativity in planning and putting on the whole MOVE:DC experience! I’m so glad I was able to be there. You all inspire me!

  7. Sam Bertrand says:

    Thank you so much for what you are doing ! I couldn’t come to MOVE:DC but i follow the event in the website ! And it was amazing what you did by bring Kony to the international stage ! Using the media and social networking ! People say that 2012 will be a changing year ! I think that you are a part of it !

    Keeping updating up with what you’re doing it’s just awesome, a great job !
    It let me think about one book ” time of outrage” form Stephane HESSEL.

    Thanks !

    Kind regards !

  8. Katie Taylor says:

    It was an honor to MOVE with IC and to see the incredible development that has taken place in the last six years.

    Your commitment to us and to the rest of the world is inspirational and humbling. I cannot return enough thanks to you and everyone else at IC who has touched my life so significantly.

    I can’t wait for the rest of what is to come, the progress and even the obstacles.

    Best Wishes,
    Katie Taylor
    #StopAtNothing

  9. Danielle McGorman says:

    Ben,
    You have seriously changed my life. Keep up the AMAZING work, along with everyone else at IC! Keep moving! Let’s bring Kony DOWN!

    #Stopatnothing
    #Bethechange

  10. rosemary hernandez says:

    i appreciate what you are doing.

  11. Ammie Hacon says:

    Congratulations to everyone who took part in MOVE:DC! Sorry I could come and represent the British but my thoughts were with you all.
    Keep up the amazing work guys!

  12. Amanda says:

    Thank you to Ben, Jason, Jed, Zach, and EVERYONE at the IC Office. Once again, an IC event rocked my world, and shook me up. And thank you for taking the time to send out the update. This was exactly what I needed today and after sharing it with my students, I realized we all needed it. Excited for the next steps – this isn’t over yet, and we will……#stopatnothing.

    Your partner in this till the end, and then some.

    Love,
    Half of the A-Team

  13. MIchelle freese says:

    Ben,
    You are a huge inspiration to all.
    Thank you for everything you have done for others.
    I want you to know you have so many people looking up to you.

  14. Karol Harlow says:

    It was wonderful to get the follow up letter from Ben Casey. Thank you Ben for writing it to all who attended. I am the high school principal at Germantown High School and brought a bus load of high school students from Germantown, New York. We are wondering….what next can we do? The MOVE Washington DC was just that…moving. But while it was inspiring, I would like our kids to get the sense that they can do more. Perhaps you can offer suggestions…could we, for example, invite a student who was stolen to come to our school? Could we adopt a family who child is missing? Could we write officials? We are looking for a path to keep included.

    Karol Harlow
    Germantown H.S> Principal

  15. Rachel M says:

    Well done!!!
    I am so inspired by my generation. I, along with many others appreciate your honesty in the MOVE DC video! That vulnerability is what confirmed my belief that IC is about the people of Africa, and inspiring the youth of today,
    I am in Australia, and although there was backlash to the campaign here, a remnant was un deterred. There were literally posters in every city. Major and regional. People Care. Thankyou for allowing us to be apart of this. Hopefully one day I will meet some of your team in Africa! Don’t lose hope, Kony will be bought to justice!

    Love and prayers,
    Rachel

    • Kelly says:

      Amen from Brisbane Australia. Many people did back off here in Australia initially for various reasons but that could not take away from the importance of the cause. I hope the natural cynicism that Australia holds at times can be met by it’s deeply caring heart for the lost underdog, the helpless and put our powerful “mateship” attitude towards this great opportunity to serve a higher cause. Kelly

  16. R K says:

    This is truly great news. Those three gaps will soon be closed, and Kony WILL be caught. I am an invisible children supporter, and though I am not in the US right now, I know we will reach our deadline of the en of the year. We have used this year in good ways I can’t imagine.

    Keep thinking positive!

  17. wanting says:

    Thanks for letter ,i will support you forever.

  18. Jordan says:

    This world is changing so much, and ive noticed something about this generation. There are the bad kids and the good kids, therre is no inbetween, and when you are in one of these groups, you do them to the extreme. everyone in MOVEDC was apart of the good kids group, part of the people who could make a difference and do something with there lives. i applaud you for your great efforts, and hope that you soon stop and catch kony.

  19. Michelle Stancil says:

    You and the organization you built with so many others is doing such a vitally important task. Congratulations for your enormous success!! Please continue to share updates for KONY 13–there will be a KONY 13, won’t there, the fight continues. You are a superhero to so many children living nightmarish lives. I will pray for this effort.

  20. This is exciting news! Thank you and to all those who attended!

    A dedicated man is a force to be reckoned with!

  21. Annabelle Drumm says:

    That’s great news Ben. Keep moving forward. I study Law of Attraction and the new World Shift in Consciousness. You are doing everything absolutely by the book which guarantees your success. As we pass through the next few months there’ll be even more defectors from their side and supporters added on your side, I suspect, as we tip our desire towards a more peaceful co-operative world.

  22. Jay Poirier says:

    Today in Connecticut there was a tragic school shooting and my facebook wall is flooded with sadness as the world mourns this tragedy. I am also reminded by Ben Keesey’s letter that everyday this is a reality for far to many kids in Africa. For me all children are precious, I don’t see how any human is more precious than any other. I thank you for making me aware of Joseph Kony and I look forward to the day that he is captured. As the year draws to a close I hope that he is captured this year, if not I support you and hope that together we can make it a reality in the New Year. Keep up the great work.

  23. Annita says:

    I wish I could have gone to MOVE:DC but I am 16 and live in Australia, with no way of getting to America by myself (especially with school still on). Thanks for the letter. it made me see how well this initiative has gone. Ben Keesey, you are an inspiration to the world. Surely the LRA will be stopped soon and Kony will be brought to justice, but until then you have my full support and the support of my whole family on this journey to better lives for the poor souls in Africa. God bless

  24. Nelly says:

    I wasn’t able to make it to Move:DC for various reasons, but I really wanted to be there! I pray for you guys and for the children though. I really hope we take Kony down soon though! Watch Machine Gun Preacher, it will make you cry!

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