In 2009, a laugh on a ringtone helps spark joy and conversation, and ultimately helps to fund a clean water well. On a trip to see this well drilled in Sierra Leone, West Africa, our Co-founder Kate and her companions meet Violet and her infant son Jonathan in a fight to survive a water-borne illness. Despite everyone’s best efforts, they experience the worst possible outcome. To read the full story of the beginning of Let Them LOL, click here.
So, now what? We return home, brokenhearted and with deep resolve. This is bigger than one well; Let Them LOL is born. After having absentmindedly recorded pieces of the story as it unfolded, we scramble together a snapshot of how much his life – every life and especially lives being needlessly lost due to lack of access to basic needs – means to us, to Violet, to the world. We feel if our community knows about this problem, they’ll do something. We have to do more. We have to try.
At a local event, we let people know we are Let Them LOL. We sell t-shirts, talk about the problem of dirty water, and we play our video recapping our experience with little Jonathan on repeat on a small screen, expecting maybe a few people to notice in the hectic environment. But something happens…
Crowds begin to form, bottlenecking the flow of traffic, surrounding the screen. They don’t move. People stay through multiple replays, straining to hear Jonathan’s story. We see them leave and return with family and friends. This one little life – one little spark – ignites a flame, which burns into a full fire, which doesn’t end that day. Jonathan begins to cause a stir in the hearts of not just a few, but many. As we had hoped, people understand and resonate with the significance of Jonathan’s life cut short far too early, and the simple injustice of people drinking from muddy pits. This is the beginning of something bigger than us and we have the courage to dream on behalf of children and people just like him whose future might begin to look different.
Let Them LOL asks: what if we could fund one well a year? We set on our way with concerts, bike rides, our first Run/Walk for Water ever, our first Yard Sales, and our first and second annual Water Gala!
From 2010 to 2011 we have funded fifteen more wells and realize we’re in for something huge as this obliterates our goal of one well per year. We could see the journey was only barely beginning but really had no clue clean water was about to lead to much more.
(^ hint, hint)