So far we’ve travelled back to the start, to a time where a community here rallied with a community there around the idea that access to clean water is a basic need worthy of defending for people everywhere. This led us to meet one child who died because of the injustice that this is still not so, and his life combined with a laugh on a ringtone and the resolve that laughter can spread like hope sparked Let Them LOL.
Then – as we came together – we funded clean water well after clean water well, followed by a home for children in desperate need, we found a place to call our own in Sierra Leone, and built a school (for kids in nursery through high school) which continues to grow. As we harnessed the ability to sustain our wells (received a graciously donated drilling rig) and empower staff we established a community center in both communities we serve, a safe home for girl’s in vulnerable situations, (received another drilling rig) added nutritious meals packed by our volunteers and sustaining lives across an ocean, an expanding health program and facility, and grew to employ over 50 Sierra Leonean staff. And we firmly believe we are just getting started!
Ten years of change, defeat and triumph, disaster and rebuilding, hope and perseverance. Where do we find ourselves so far in 2019? We’ve got two new classrooms built this year already, as well as brand new satellite internet installed to help facilitate the computer lab at our community center. In 2019 a new bakery was constructed and has begun operations, not only supplying our campus but providing additional jobs and support to the community. With over 39 children in full time care, and over 500 students in Hope Rising Academy, our Hope Campus is beginning to truly thrive. With the atmosphere at exciting events like the Sports Day this April (a competition held by each school annually) and news of the recently self-appointed women’s Volleyball league, we’re seeing students and staff alike taking ownership of roles beyond their required responsibilities, showing pride in their campus (did we mention adding the new sports field in 2019?)! This is the turning point where children (and adults) who have experienced trauma begin to shift from simply holding on and surviving, into a new type of peace which allows them to relax into play and choosing to see a new future. They are embracing hope.
In May of this year, our stateside community came together for the first ever Running Buffalo event, and helped give supplies toward students in need heading back to school through a local church. This Hope Rising Buffalo initiative is the first of many as Buffalo partnerships continue to strengthen and develop in our community here.
We have over 135 wells drilled and over 45,000 people are daily receiving clean water because of our support (…that means collectively all of your support as part of the community that makes us “us” – thank you)! In both April and September, Buffalo family members travelled to witness wells funded and providing daily clean water to villages in Sierra Leone in honor and memory of beloved loved ones who have profoundly impacted Let Them LOL. Each of these families got to experience first-hand another unique legacy left by their family members, and we (our US and Sierra Leonean Let Them LOL community) continue to be deeply moved and humbled to be able to in some small way be a recipient and steward of these ongoing legacies.
We realize that what unites us is layers deeper than what it seems at first glance. We have much to hold on to, much to fight for together.
Just look at all that has become possible from nothing from 2009 to 2019! And you know what we believe? The best is yet to come!
What do we dream of? No mother deserves to feel horror before joy at the news of pregnancy because her country makes this the most dangerous news in the world. No child should be at risk of not seeing their fifth birthday from the water they drink. No girl deserves to live in fear or shame of being taken advantage of, unaware that she was created with worth and incredible purpose. No community should wonder if health, hope, and a future are too much to ask, too far beyond their grasp. We will stand in the gap believing “many drops make a mighty ocean” and our combined generosity will help to change the story. Will you believe it with us?