If a LRA member is able to escape their group, communities in the conflict affected regions of Central African Republic (CAR) , Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and South Sudan are often first point of contact during a LRA member’s defection processes.
Therefore, currently underway at Invisible Children’s regional office in Kampala, is a four day workshop that has brought together community leaders and Invisible Children staff from CAR, DRC, and South Sudan to discuss how communities in LRA affected regions can better facilitate and prepare for LRA defections. A central goal of to the workshop is to form Community Defection Committees (CDCs) at the already established Safe Reporting Sites (SRS). These committees will be in charge of designing and implementing local defection programs and protocol that are specific to their region, community, and cultural context. While Invisible Children continues to direct and implement overarching defection strategy and tactics, local partners are more equipped to work within their geographical surroundings to create defection materials that are contextually appropriate.
Once established, one of most important functions of the CDCs will be community sensitization. Particularly in isolated regions, where information about the LRA is limited, there can be a lack of understanding about what the LRA is— including that many of the fighters were abducted against their will. Therefore, communities need to be properly introduced to the idea of accepting individuals who were forcibly conscripted and are now choosing to defect. In order to sensitize civilians, Invisible Children in partnership with DTJ has developed a Mobile Cinema program that can be used at SRSs. The CDCs will show a film in their communities that details the life of a child who is abducted into the LRA, and the difficult process he must go through to defect. By using the power of story, Mobile Cinema is an effective way to convey to communities that defection and reintegration is the best way to end the war and finally achieve zero LRA.
At the conclusion of the workshop, that began this past Wednesday will go through Saturday, the community leaders will return to their respective regions, form their defection committees, and begin the implement the tools developed during this week’s training.
We’re excited to share stories of the CDCs and Mobile Cinema as they transform communities at Safe Reporting Sites over the next few months. Stay tuned.