- January 31, 2017
Today, after nearly 12 years of working towards the end of the LRA conflict, The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative will be permanently closing down. Earlier today I posted a detailed explanation of why this decision was made. In this space, I would simply like to take some time to express gratitude to all the people and organizations that have been a part of our winding journey over the past decade.
First and foremost, I would like to thank all of the civil society leaders from LRA-affected areas that have informed, shaped, and enlivened our work. For guiding us in the early years, we owe an enormous debt to Michael Otim, Archbishop John Baptist Odama, Rt. Bishop Macleod Baker Ochola, Betty Bigombe, and the team at Justice and Reconciliation Project. More recently, it has been an honor to collaborate in Uganda with David Ocitti and Evelyn Amony, among others. In South Sudan, Fr. Mark Kumboyo, Sr. Giovanna Calabria, Bishop Samuel Peni, Paramount Chief Wilson Peni, Christopher Batu, and so many others provided invaluable insight and hospitality. In DR Congo, Sr. Angelique Namaika, Fr. Ernest Sugule, and Kunangbangate Pierre have always been sources of great wisdom and laughter, and I will always treasure the brief time I was able to spend with the late Abbe Benoit Kinalegu.
In Central African Republic, my deepest gratitude goes to the Catholic sisters in Bria whose warmth and laughter was even more sustaining than their delicious cooking. Colleagues at CDJP, SAIPED, Inter-Church Committee, Vision et Développement, CALL, and other community organizations also lent their valuable time and knowledge to my colleagues and me. And of course, I have the utmost appreciation for the incredible staff of the Invisible Children and ANCHOR teams in CAR, DRC, and Uganda. There are too many to acknowledge all by name, but I can’t help but mention Patrick, Miller, Melanie, and Papa Joseph, the father of the early warning network in CAR.
Our collaboration over the years with US and international partners has been similarly crucial to our work. Invisible Children team members past and present… it’s been a helluva ride (and I’d do it all over again). Without early guidance from SIT Uganda and support from AFJN, Resolve would have never existed. I’m also very grateful for Fr. Mike Perry and Joe Donnelly for imparting their wisdom to me during my early years in New York. We owe enormous thanks to the teams at Human Rights Watch, African Parks Network, Discover the Journey, Crisis Action, HHI, MapStory, The Enough Project, Fifty & Fifty, and so many others for their collaboration over the years. Matthew, Jessica, Ledio, Maria, Erin, Ron, Phil, Ida, Wendy, and Adrian, I’m not even sure how to categorize your enormous contributions to our work over the years. We would also like to acknowledge how much we learned and benefited from the academics and activists who did not always agree with us but engaged us in constructive dialogue. We also owe thanks to the many journalists who have covered this issue (and our work) over the past decade.
I also have a profound appreciation for the dozens of people who have worked tirelessly within US Congress, the Bush and Obama Administrations, United Nations, African Union, European Union, and other institutions to bring an end to LRA atrocities Without your efforts in the face of a maze of institutional constraints all of our work would have been fruitless. A relatively small number of you managed to quietly turn the tide from the inside in the international response to the LRA conflict. I hope in the end our volleys of recommendations and critiques were more helpful than not. They were always offered with respect and appreciation.
To all those who have been part of the Uganda-CAN/Resolve Uganda/Resolve family, you will always remain so. To Peter, Michael, Alison, Jesse, Stephen, and the other members of the old guard, my deepest thanks. To our dedicated staff and interns for whom the smell of Subway bread still triggers memories of LRA advocacy, I tip my hat. To our board members over the years, especially Brendan, Cory, Greg, Ben, and Andy, your encouragement and advice was so helpful. Thank you.
To the thousands of grassroots supporters who showed up for lobby meetings, rallies, or candlelight vigils, your commitment and belief that we all have something to offer in the making of a more peaceful world fueled us in the toughest of times. To our donors, large and small, we appreciated your advice and unwavering support even more than your contributions. In this respect, particular thanks to Andy—whose unlikely confidence in us and donation at day one sparked this entire journey—as well as to the fine folks at Humanity United, the Bridgeway Foundation, and other foundations for sustaining us during some of our most impactful years.
We owe unending thanks to the friends, family, and partners who were patient with our long hours in the office, listened to us vent, chipped in with financial contributions, didn’t think we were insane for pursuing this vision (or at least didn’t tell us if they did), and brought us Thai food and the occasional burrito when the hungry bear prowled nearby.
I am sure I’ve neglected many people who deserve thanks for their contributions to our work over the years, but please accept my pre-emptive apology and know that you are not forgotten.
And finally, I save my deepest appreciation for the community leaders, LRA defectors, survivors of violence, displaced persons, and others who shared with me their time and often difficult stories. I have no words.
It is sad to see Resolve close down, but I take solace in the fact our goal was never to create a lasting, abstract organization. From the beginning, Resolve was simply a shorthand to describe the collective relationships we forged across borders and time in pursuit of a more just and peaceful world. It has been immensely gratifying to work alongside people I love and respect in pursuit of something we believe in. Those relationships—as well as the memories and stories from all we have experienced together—will last long into the future, and for that I have nothing but gratitude.