On Thursday, September 26th, Invisible Children dropped 90,000 “come home” fliers over a region in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With this flier drop we surpassed one million fliers designed, printed, and dropped since the program began. That’s one million opportunities for members of the LRA to escape, and it’s working. In 2012 alone, 81% of LRA escapees cited “come home” messaging as influential in their decision to escape.
Printed on each flier is a photo of an LRA fighter who recently surrendered, and includes detailed instructions on how and where to escape. With feedback from partners in Uganda, DRC, and Central African Republic (CAR), Invisible Children’s design team in San Diego reacts quickly to the dynamic developments of the conflict by designing fliers that include recent escapees and updated text, which is adjusted circumstantially.
Once the fliers are designed and printed, Invisible Children works with partners in the region to drop the fliers from airplanes along areas where LRA are known to travel.
One of the most powerful examples of the of success this program occurred just over a month ago. A Ugandan male named Opondo found a “come home” flier, followed its instructions and escaped captivity. He was originally abducted when he was 10 years old and had spent the last 15 years with the LRA. The flier that Opondo found was part of a drop funded by Invisible Children’s supporters.
Opondo’s story echoes that of dozens – if not hundreds – of former LRA abductees who have escaped the rebel group after finding a flier. In February 2012, one of Joseph Kony’s wives found one of our fliers and escaped to CAR, after being reassured by the flier that she would be safe upon surrendering.
Half of the fliers dropped this week were specially designed with Opondo’s picture on it, showing other members of the group that he had escaped and they could too. Recently, supporters rallied to raise $20,000 to help fund an additional flier drop that will be happening soon.
There are still hundreds of LRA fighters holding hundreds of women and children hostage. We are determined to get that number to zero through an expansion of our various programs in East and central Africa, including “come home” fliers. This fall, we’re asking supporters around the world to join us and fundraise $3 million to dramatically expand these life-saving initiatives.
You can visit our #zeroLRA campaign website to set up a page and start fundraising. Once you’ve raised $25, we’ll mail you an actual “come home” flier like the one Opondo found, to remind you of the lasting impact you are making in the lives of those halfway around the world.