An Interview with Co-Founder and Director of Let Them LOL, Kate Vacanti. Let Them LOL is a non-profit organization based in Buffalo raising funds for clean water wells in Sierra Leone, Africa.
Photos by Courtney Campbell
Sierra Leone is considered the poorest country in the world right now...what motivates or inspires you to do what you do there?
Sierra Leone has been at the bottom of the index of developing countries for a long time now. Although extremely poor, its people are some of the most inspiring, beautiful people I have ever met.
They have absolutely nothing, and yet they will give you whatever they do have. They have infectious smiles despite a daily struggle to simply survive.
There are a lot of needs in the world, we can't meet them all, but we can do something. Nearly one billion people on our planet don't have access to clean water. The people involved with Let them LOL say that this is unacceptable. We can and we must do something to change that. Clean water gives the people of Sierra Leone a hand up, not a hand out. It empowers them to embrace a better future.
LOL built their first children’s home this trip...describe the feeling of accomplishment and how this will better the quality of life for these children?
In places of extreme poverty, you will find a lot of children in need.
Over the course of three trips to Sierra Leone, we recognized the number of impoverished and orphaned children.
Let them LOL's Hope's Rising Children's Home is a place to provide a better future for these children. Because of the extreme poverty, many children in Sierra Leone don't get to go to school. This is especially the case with orphaned children.
The children of Hope's Rising will receive food, education, access to health care and a loving family.
It was humbling and a great honor to see children coming from the depths of poverty and moving into our home. In that moment it was like we watched the trajectory of their lives change. From a painful past, and uncertain future to a future of hope and possibility.
Would they be on the streets otherwise?
Many children when their parents die are given to other family members to care for them. The challenge is other families are struggling themselves to survive, feed their kids a meal a day, let alone send them to school. So, orphaned children really are at the bottom of most villages just struggling to survive. Some can be found wandering the villages.
Now that your back who ensures the day to day operations are running well?
We have hired a national who is a pastor to be our Director. Our on the ground partner Global Outreach Mission has had a relationship with him for many years. He is a wonderful man. He and his wife, along with two other house moms: Violet and Ishia will be running the home. We also have a national consultant through Global who lives in Freetown who will make monthly visits to assess operations, do reports and assist with whatever is needed. We also have weekly phone communications with our Director Emmanuel.
What's next for you and the team?
Our team is back to share the stories of all we have seen and experienced. To show the people of the WNY community and beyond the incredible change they are bringing to people half a world away. To date, we have funds for 44 clean water wells, and we have recently reached the funds for a second home. We will continue to raise awareness and funds to help our amazing friends in Sierra Leone!
Can you talk about the adoption process you’re personally in right now?
God has placed a huge burden in our hearts for children with no families. Let them LOL's children's home will be bettering the lives of 25 impoverished/orphaned children. However, we still felt a burden to do something even more tangibly ourselves. We would have loved to adopt from Sierra Leone, however it is currently closed to that. So, since our hearts are in Africa, we are adopting from Ethiopia. We are currently finishing up the home study process and fundraising to help with the expenses. We are so excited that God is allowing us to add another child to our family in this way. We can't wait to meet our little girl from Ethiopia!!