The let them LOL team of 14 just returned less than a week ago from a 2 week trip to Sierra Leone, Africa. Every time a team returns, we are asked the same simple question “How was your trip?”
The question seems simple enough, but for those who have traveled to that place that is one of the poorest countries on earth, an answer doesn’t come easy. Over the past few days I have talked to many of our team members who have all struggled to answer that question.
Here are some thoughts to help shape an answer:
A statement I have said over and over each year is: “It’s beautifully devastating.”
Overwhelming and yet hopeful.
Going from one of the poorest countries in the world back to one of the richest feels like whiplash.
While there you have these moments where you can’t decide whether to laugh or cry, and either one would be appropriate.
You are faced with an incredible dichotomy of extreme extreme poverty among so much beauty.
You are humbled by people who have nothing and yet they will give you everything.
You are forever changed and you know that, but it takes time for you to discover who you now are in light of all you’ve seen.
Now, back to the question:
Let them LOL’s 3rd trip to Sierra Leone Africa was incredibly productive.
Over 50 villages were visited, and assessed.
80 filters were given out and joyfully received as people gained instant access to clean water.
Our medical doctors saw and treated nearly 400 patients.
We were able to give sandals to the workers of the children’s home who had many cuts and foot injuries.
A knitting project was started to provide work for women in the community.
Hope’s Rising Children’s Home was completed and over 20 orphaned and impoverished children now have a home and opportunity for a better future.
We celebrated as we visited site after site of finished wells where the entire village sang songs celebrating the clean water they now had. And we were re-challenged and invigorated as we saw village after village drinking out of nasty, contaminated water sources waiting for clean water wells. We were reminded how important this work is and inspired to continue in that. We held children who were the lowest of the low, the poorest of the poor. We hugged and kissed them, made them laugh, gave them new clothes, and told them they were special and loved. And most importantly, we were encouraged and grateful to the community of people in the US who heard of the needs of the people of Sierra Leone and stood in the gap to give them a hope for a better future.
And with the sound of laughter from villages with clean water, and orphaned children who now have a home and family, we discovered that Hope is Rising!
From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU all. You are all let them LOL, you are making a HUGE difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors in Sierra Leone.
PS: Over the next few weeks, we will be posting photos and videos that speak for themselves on what Sierra Leone is like, but here’s a few to get it started: