As we trace back over the timeline of Let Them LOL’s journey, the many ups and downs, we find ourselves at the end of 2013 and sweeping into 2014 (if you’re just joining us, you’ll want to start from the beginning and catch up) with bright hopes and new land after a difficult transition.
Our full-time children’s homes are becoming established in a place of permanency and promise as the local village has offered us several acres of land. You’ve helped to pack and send furnishings, and we’ve begun to construct, hire, and enroll students as we prepare to fill our first ever Let Them LOL school called Hope Rising Academy. We dream of a campus expanding to become a city on a hill! Not only that, but a donor has stepped in to donate a game-changing piece of equipment: a drilling rig! After some of our staff receives important training, it departs July 30, for a months-long journey overseas and unbeknownst to any of us it’s equipped specifically to serve our specific geographic (and geological) area in Sierra Leone!
Our school is nearly completed and just about to open with over 50 local children sponsored and ready to be enrolled, but in the meantime, something horrifying has begun. No one could predict on March 18, 2014 Guinean health officials would announce the outbreak of a mysterious hemorrhagic fever “which strikes like lightning.” The first confirmed case of Ebola would soon arise in Sierra Leone on May 24, followed by an epidemic which would elicit nightmarish conditions between three neighboring countries, devastating already vulnerable healthcare systems, ravaging families and any semblance of a rising national economy, terrorizing and ultimately costing thousands of lives.
As the earliest reports began to stream in, Let Them LOL’s US staff keep in close contact with our Sierra Leonean staff and a true test of the perseverance and strength of our program arises. As we grieve together, we communicate with the local village chief to figure out how to best maintain momentum with restricted access to each other. Through fundraising efforts such as the Digging Deeper Campaign, you help empower the village chief who has a plan of her own. Instead of waiting, we see her and her local people come together with preventative action. Using Let Them LOL donor funds to set up a self-maintained quarantine around their village to monitor and patrol all visitors and their temperatures. By the end of the Ebola outbreak, likely due to these incredible steps, zero cases of the epidemic ever arose in our partner village near our children and staff!
Let Them LOL also works with the village to provide nutritious meals to each family supported by sponsors connected to Hope Rising Academy. Even though the school is prevented from opening it’s doors to control spread of the epidemic, we ensure none of these families miss out on the benefits of their sponsorship in such a crucial time and are even able to update sponsors with a few snapshots as meal packets are distributed.
As the horrors continue and gradually hint toward an end, Let Them LOL won’t slow down, we’re busy! You come together and help fund the construction of several new children’s homes (empowering people with jobs during a crucial time in Sierra Leone’s history) ready to house and care for many orphaned by the recent outbreak. Our construction team keeps busy building these – not one but two – new children’s homes, a guest house, and a eventually a new kitchen for our school. Our drilling rig is released from port, and important drilling supplies are shipped and received. On April 16, the government gives the OK and we’re cleared to officially open Hope Rising Academy! By the end of May we have over 200 students enrolled at HRA, receiving nutritious lunches, medical care, clean water, uniforms, school fees, and school supplies in addition to their daily education.
Additionally, our LTLOL well maintenance staff, empowered by the spirit and heart of the organization, goes out to service wells on their scheduled visits, despite the potential dangers and rumors which scared others away from unnecessary travel at this time. Their willingness to risk motorbike travel on behalf of people who still needed clean water results in many villages placing deeper trust in our organization and team, and even rejoicing at the sight of their arrival as a sign of hope that normalcy could return in their country and fear would not win!
Not only this, but the Digging Deeper Campaign also helps fund the provision of clean water filters to many families in need throughout Sierra Leone, where routine travel for food or clean water suddenly became highly restricted.
Today, 3 remote villages received water filters thanks to Digging Deeper our ebola response campaign. Each household got a filter and community leaders signed to join our water maintenance program. Quarterly, trained technicians will visit each community ensuring that the filters are working properly and do hygiene training! The communities were “amazed”! Access to safe, clean water is amazing! #NGO #watercharity #sierraleone #ebolamustgo #inspiring #community JUNE 4, 2015
As perseverance leads LTLOL toward the Great Water Walk on Beaver Island, a new chicken program, and even more exciting news, the dream of Hope Campus is finally coming alive. Then, on Nov 7, 2015 Sierra Leone is gratefully declared Ebola-free, followed by a few predicted flare up cases.
Visit back soon to learn what new ‘ground-breaking’ things were just around the corner… and don’t forget to grab your table today to secure your spot at the big party commemorating all this and more – 10 years of Let Them LOL – at our 10th Anniversary Celebration Water Gala!