We started 2015 with the odds stacked against us. But thanks to your generous support, paired with the ambition and grit that is at the core of Invisible Children’s DNA, we are ending the year more encouraged than we could have ever imagined.

Lisa with HF Team in DRC

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Dear Invisible Children Family,

I talked a big game. Earlier this year, I promised you that despite a significant downsize of Invisible Children’s U.S. operations, our work with communities in central Africa and with policymakers in Washington would continue on with as much tenacity as ever. I guaranteed you that our team — while much smaller — would be dynamic, ambitious, and fully committed to our mission of seeing Joseph Kony’s violence finally ended, and central African communities receiving the protection and support they deserve.

I made those promises because I believe in the dedication and brilliance of our global team and partners, and because I believe in you. I trusted that you would dig your heels in with us, weather any storm, and continue to stand with communities affected by Kony’s violence until they had finally achieved peace.

That’s exactly what you’ve done. And six months after I first made those promises, I am coming to you deeply grateful and immensely proud. Thanks to your support, we not only followed through on our commitments in 2015, we have exceeded them in remarkable ways. I have highlighted a few examples below of what you’ve enabled us to accomplish in 2015, and I’ll be sharing more encouraging stories with you in the coming weeks.

But there’s more to celebrate.

It is an honor to tell you that, because of your generosity, Invisible Children can now continue — and even expand — our lifesaving programs in central Africa through 2016, as we work hand-in-hand with our longstanding community partners in DR Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR). And here in Washington, D.C., our advocacy team will be charging forward in the New Year, harnessing the powerful voices of IC Citizen activists to ensure that our leaders stay the course until Kony’s violence is finally stopped.

Merci Beaucoup - General

The Invisible Children DRC team.

We started 2015 with the odds stacked against us. But thanks to you, we are ending the year more encouraged than we could have ever imagined. Here a just a few examples of why:

As planned for 2015, Invisible Children worked with our partners in DRC and CAR to ensure that communities targeted by LRA violence, as well as security and humanitarian actors working in the region, have daily access to rapid, accurate information about LRA activity and other armed groups through our Early Warning Radio Network and the LRA Crisis Tracker platform.

One of the Early Warning HF radio operators in Limai, DRC, trained by Invisible Children.

We continued to work with local journalists and radio stations to broadcast “Come Home” messages that encourage LRA fighters to peacefully defect, while also working with local communities through our Community Defection Committee program to ensure that they are ready and equipped to assist LRA escapees and help them safely return home. We also invested heavily in strengthening the ability of our community partners to manage these programs, and helped set them up for success as they work to serve their communities long into the future.

Our CEO, Lisa Dougan, meeting with Aime Crepin, a member of the Invisible Children CAR staff. Aime was abducted and held in captivity by the LRA a few years ago, and now serves as the Vice President of Vie et Espoir, a community-based reintegration center for LRA returnees in Obo, CAR.

And of course, back here in the U.S., we have been mobilizing activists throughout the year to ensure that President Obama and Congress remained committed to stopping Joseph Kony and supporting the recovery of communities he has terrorized. Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated President Obama’s announcement that he reauthorized the U.S. mission to help arrest Joseph Kony and end LRA violence for a full year.

Invisible Children Citizen activists in Arizona, following an in-district lobby meeting with Senator John McCain’s office.

Beyond what we planned for 2015, your generosity enabled us to take on new and urgently-needed projects to support communities and individuals that have been, and continue to be, hit hard by LRA violence. From the expansion of our Early Warning Radio Network into several remote and vulnerable communities in CAR, to the launch of our new Community Peace Committee and Trauma Healing programs that are helping communities heal and promote peace in the face of violence and insecurity, to the establishment of a community-based Transit Center in Obo, CAR, that provides immediate, urgently-needed care for women and children returning from LRA captivity — all of these activities were made possible by you, and have enabled us to partner with incredible leaders in central Africa whose commitment to peace is astounding.

Community leaders in Obo, CAR, holding their certificates after completing a two-day trauma healing workshop organized by Invisible Children in partnership with the InterChurch Commission of Western Equatoria, South Sudan.

These are only a few of the encouraging updates and stories that our team encounters on a daily basis. Case in point: just hours before I sat down to write this letter, I received word from our team in CAR that they just welcomed a 16-year-old boy named Stephen* who had escaped from the LRA the day before, after spending more than a year in captivity. Stephen is now being cared for by one of Invisible Children’s community partners that provides foster families for women and children returning from the LRA, and this week he will begin receiving a range of support services at the Invisible Children-supported Transit Center.

Mama Marie Francine and Clementine, members of AFASVER, one of Invisible Children’s community parters in CAR that provides host families for children who have escaped LRA activity and are waiting to be reunited with their families.

With our five-person U.S. team being laser-beam-focused on ensuring that your donations translate into effective, thoughtful advocacy in Washington and programs in central Africa, we’ve had very little opportunity to actually talk about all that your support is accomplishing. That’s why, as we take the coming weeks to reflect on the past year and prepare for a new one, we’re excited to finally share more stories like these with you from 2015 that have encouraged and energized our staff; stories from Congo to Capitol Hill that renew our gratitude for you, and for the opportunity to support our friends in central Africa in their pursuit of peace.

So stay tuned with us over the next several weeks as I bring you remarkable stories of courage and success; stories that your generosity has made possible. And on behalf of our entire Invisible Children family, thank you. Thank you for demonstrating — with your time, your words, and your wallet — that our liberty is bound together, and our work is not finished.

Stop at nothing.

Lisa

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*The name of the 16-year-old boy who escaped from the LRA has been changed to protect his identify.