In the years to come, I believe we will look back on 2020 as the year that showed us the human capacity for strength, generosity, and resilience in the face of extraordinary challenges. 

I have witnessed this in my own colleagues here in the United States and across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR) as they have rallied together and navigated new roadblocks in already challenging environments. In my 14 years of working with Invisible Children, I have never been more proud of the innovation, empathy, and fierce determination that our staff and local partners across central Africa have shown this year. 

Invisible Children works in a region that experts have identified as one of the most vulnerable to the pandemic. And yet, with your support, we have not only maintained our programs, but expanded them to meet critical needs as they evolve. 

Here are just a few highlights of the many things you helped us accomplish in 2020:

+ We trained more than 960 community volunteers on conflict mitigation, risk-reduction, preventing gender-based violence, and more. 

+ We rapidly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by working with local partners and community volunteers to set up hand washing stations and share vital information about how to prevent the spread of the virus.

+ We launched a mental health program in CAR, providing one-on-one counseling to more than 450 individuals impacted by trauma and training more than 5,500 community members on “Psychological First Aid,” including how to recognize and respond to signs of trauma.  

+ We reunited 37 escapees from the Lord’s Resistance Army with their families, including 20 children, 5 women, and 12 men.

+ Our conflict mapping and analysis platform, The Crisis Tracker, won this year’s .ORG Impact Award for Innovation 

+ We screened our new film Ani Wa Sa for more than 10,000 central African community members and organized dialogue sessions about the role of communities in preventing violence and promoting conservation. Ani Wa Sa was also a featured film in the 2020 Environmental Film Festival in Washington, DC.

Needless to say, there is a lot we all can be proud of! And we aren’t slowing down. We have ambitious plans for 2021 to build on all of this momentum. Here is a glimpse of what is ahead for Invisible Children in the new year: 

+ We are expanding our mental health support programs to communities in DRC that have been heavily affected by armed group violence.

+ Early in the new year, we plan to reunite 30 LRA escapees currently in our care with their families in DRC and CAR.

+ We will be calling on the incoming Biden White House team and the U.S. Congress to make sure that ending armed group violence and supporting local peacebuilders is a priority for U.S. foreign policy in central Africa.

+ Continue researching, expanding, and innovating tools, like the Early Warning Network, to help communities in central Africa prevent violence.

I could not be more grateful for your support over the past year. We would not have accomplished what we did in 2020, or be in a position to dream big for the future, without your partnership and your active hope that a safe and thriving future for central African communities is possible.

As 2020 comes to a close, please consider a tax-deductible donation to Invisible Children so that we can continue providing life-saving support to families targeted by violence in central Africa.

From our Invisible Children family to yours, we wish you a peaceful, safe, and hopeful holiday.  

I am excited to see what we will build together in 2021, 

Lisa Dougan
President and CEO

Some programs described in this blog are made possible with the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this post are the sole responsibility of Invisible Children and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.