When Navy SEALS killed Osama bin Laden, many believed the world was rid of its most evil man. Not Shannon Sedgwick Davis. To her, that man is Joseph Kony, head of the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), known for unleashing unspeakable horrors on innocent men, women, and children in central Africa. The LRA wipes out entire villages, forcing children to kill their parents and then taking the kids away—boys to be soldiers, girls to be sex slaves.
Davis—an attorney, a former worker for International Justice Mission, and current president of the philanthropic Bridgeway Foundation—says money alone won't fix this problem. She visits areas in the wake of LRA attacks, where she's seen "children with their faces blown off, knowing they're going to die." Davis asked herself, "Do we [at Bridgeway] really mean what we say with our mission statement—a world without genocide? I can't continue to just put Band-Aids on bullet holes." She now meets with U.N. generals, U.S. officials, and other leaders, hoping to stop the madness. "We need to be about ending mass atrocity and this particular evil. That's 90 percent of my work with Bridgeway these days."
Davis is also a board member of several organizations, including the Elders, Humanity United, toms Shoes, and Ben Affleck's Eastern Congo Initiative.
Question & Answer
What do you know of Joseph Kony?
He has set the bar for evil. He blindfolds little boys and makes them shove guns up their moms' vaginas and pull the trigger. Then he takes the blindfolds off and makes them look at the destruction. Stories like that forced me to a crisis point of wanting to take action, and I have been living and breathing that for the past three years.
You've asked the United Nations for help?
Yes. After the 2009 Christmas massacre [in which the LRA killed 321 people and kidnapped 80 children], I met with the U.N. and learned that there had been about 150 LRA soldiers in the area, compared to about 12,500 troops between the U.N. and armies from Uganda and Congo. I said, "You had 12,500 and you couldn't stop 150?" They laughed out loud, and that's when I knew I had to break out of the box of the philanthropic world. As a Christian, it's a box I can't stay in any longer.
So, what have you done?
I have worked with others to get about 30 radio towers in the region so people can communicate with each other about the movement of the LRA. They can warn each other of potential attacks and take cover or defend themselves.
What else are you doing to that end?
Other stuff that I won't talk about, and we're trying to get equipment to the right places so people can protect themselves and possibly bring an end to this—not weapons, but places where they can hide from these murderers.
Is the U.S. government helping?
Not enough, even though it would be much easier to take out Kony than bin Laden. But they say this issue isn't in the interest of our national security. It's in my interest that these children aren't hacked to death anymore. I'm not going to be mad at the U.S. government. I'm just going to work around it.
More: BridgewayFoundation.org, 2myboys.com
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Church: The Park
Family: Sam (husband); Connor, 5, Brody, 2 (children)
Reading now: Conversations with Myself, by Nelson Mandela; Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas
On your iPod: Mumford & Sons; Switchfoot; Peter Gabriel
Favorite movie: Good Will Hunting
Favorite Bible verse: Micah 6:8
Favorite website: bbc.co.uk
Your hero: Gary Haugen
Note: This article has been edited for clarity since its original publication
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