Have you ever felt beat down, broken, exhausted, and on the verge of giving up? We’d like to remind you today that even in your darkest moments, you’re not alone. If you’ve ever seen this smiling face, you may have mistaken the joy on her face for a life free of difficulty, but for our friend Violet you couldn’t be further from reality.
While there is evident joy and life in this woman’s heart, there is honest struggle, too. Her journey has shaped her into the staff member and woman we have come to respect.
When we first met Violet around ten years ago, her circumstances seemed utterly impossible. We had entered a clinic hoping to help a young child, and stumbled upon her and her son Jonathan as he struggled for his survival against a water-borne disease which was killing him at just ten months old. Violet lives in Sierra Leone, a country where mothers are tragically no strangers to death and the loss of their children, and understandably she had become emotionally shocked and overwhelmed. She was beginning to lose hope, seek distance from this all too familiar pain, shut down in shock. Our team was experiencing this sting as something fresh. We held Violet close, wiped slow tears, and stood in quiet solidarity. As we declared heartbroken, “this is not ok” we found ourselves able to provide bare minimum care in a facility with no medical resources to speak of and a country struggling to provide doctors let alone hospitals.
As Violet agreed, Let Them LOL’s team rushed she and her son to a facility with at least an IV nearly four hours away (thanks for the ride, Baba). In the car ride, Violet experienced a shift; stroking her son’s head, beaded with sweat, she cradled his fragile frame and began to emotionally return. As a group of strangers came around them, fighting for this one life like it was the only life, she dared to hope.
At this small facility, several IV’s were attempted with great difficulty. The team later received the tragic news – our efforts weren’t enough – baby Jonathan didn’t make it. He was gone. Can anyone imagine Violet’s traumatic heartbreak? After hope lost, regained, and perhaps lost again? Maybe you, too, have felt everything is coming to an end before you. Maybe you can’t imagine finding light in the midst of your situation, and maybe you will never know a single reason why your circumstances hurt you. But we’d like to share how Violet’s story did not end on this tragic day ten years ago. Neither did Jonathan’s. There was so much more.
Before the team returned to the US, they got to see Violet once more. They realized their stories were now inseparably connected, and Jonathan had lit a spark. From his little life began a flood of heartfelt support which launched Let Them LOL into its first year with funds for not just one but 15 wells! As teams returned, Violet continued to be integral to our organization and came onboard as part of our Sierra Leonean staff as we gained the privilege of helping to support her children through the program.
Today, Violet remains on staff, empowered toward hope as a diligent daily cook providing nutritious meals for over 500 children at Hope Rising Academy, including her daughters who attend thanks to their sponsorship relationship with now close friends and family including our volunteer Eleena who visited this September. As her son Jonathan would have turned ten, Violet celebrates ten years with Let Them LOL.
On a recent trip, a returning US team member and friend broke down in tears, crumbling to the ground after seeing yet another horrifically dirty water source. In a stunning parallel to our first moments with her, it was our friend Violet who quietly walked to his side, gathered him in her arms, wiped his tears, and gently encouraged, “It will be ok.” With all she’s endured, this full-circle moment shared over the death and destruction from a lack of clean water awed us. Her life seemed to echo the wonderings of Lysa Terkeurst,
“What if this painful breaking is part of a beautiful remaking?”
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