Last week I got to attend an exclusive soundcheck and meet and greet with one of my favorite bands, Thrice, by donating to the charity Invisible Children. Thrice have worked with Invisible Children for years, and I was already very familiar with the charity when I won entry to the soundcheck. Before I get into the connection between Invisible Children and bands like Thrice, it’s important to know what Invisible Children’s mission is. The Invisible Children website explains, “The war in northern Uganda has been called the most neglected humanitarian emergency in the world today. For the past 23 years, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GoU) have been waging a war that has left nearly two million innocent civilians caught in the middle. The GoU’s attempt to protect its citizens from this rebel militia has largely failed, resulting in an entire generation of youth that has never known peace.” The longest running war in Africa, the LRA conflict is fought primarily by children who are kidnapped and forced to fight by the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony.
Film has always been a huge part of the Invisible Children effort, but the nonprofit also has a new initiative, The Musician Coalition. I asked Eugene Kim, an Invisible Children volunteer who is currently touring with Thrice what exactly the band is raising money for. Kim says, “Thrice are raising money for radio towers in the Congo. The coolest part about them is we’re having kids that have escaped the LRA send messages to their friends that are still abducted. They’re telling them it’s safe to come back home since they’ve been brainwashed to believe they’re hated by their communities.” The radio towers also serve to warn civilians of possible attacks. Watch the video below for more information.
Kim goes on to say, “The Musician Coalition is our newest initiative where we’re partnering artists with fundraising for those radio towers. It’s a cool way of linking musicians with radio, something they obviously share a connection with. Each artist has a page where fans can join their fundraising teams and win cool things from them for donating. We have bands as big as Thrice, All Time Low, Frightened Rabbit, August Burns Red, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, as well as smaller artists like Spirit Family Reunion.” Thrice’s meet and greet, as well as the solo acoustic set performed by the band’s singer, Dustin Kensrue, were held to raise money for the Musician Coalition cause and their personal goal of $5,000.
Kim remarked about his experiences on tour as well and said, “Touring with Thrice, La Dispute, Moving Mountains, and O’Brother is a dream come true. All the dudes and crew for every band are some of the most fun and down to earth people I’ve ever met. It’s been the biggest privilege ever being on the road with all of them, and they all have helped our cause a ton. We’ve gotten a great response from a lot of fans too, which is phenomenal. You have to understand that some people aren’t coming to shows to hear about an issue involving kidnapped children, but lots of people have been super willing to support the cause.”
I first learned about Invisible Children through music, and if it wasn’t for the dedication of bands like Thrice, I probably would never have learned about the charity. Musicians raise money for causes all the time, but personally I’ve never seen the same dedication to a cause as I see with Invisible Children. I’ve never seen another charity literally go on tour with a band. Unlike some nonprofits, Invisible Children also clearly tells you where your money is going. When I made my donation to Thrice’s fund, a team member explained exactly what that donation would go towards. The intense connection that Invisible Children makes with musicians and their fans has surely helped the cause immensely.