A Buffalo non-profit helps Sierra Leoneans dig for hope

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Millions of people in the West African country of Sierra Leone don’t have access to clean water. As a result, thousands die each year from water related illnesses.

“I’ve been to Sierra Leone eight times now. Every time, over and over again, we’re seeing people drinking out of dirty, disgusting holes,” Kate Vacanti, the director of Let Them LOL said.

Let Them LOL is a Buffalo non-profit dedicated to bringing clean water to villages.

Vacanti and her team say the problem can be overwhelming, but they are committed to helping out. Their team has been digging wells for clean water and hope.

“It’s a special moment for the entire community and even the villages around there,” Andrew Toukatly, the water coordinator for Let Them LOL said.

One well may seem like a small drop, but the non-profit has built 84 and they’re supplying water to 30,000 people.

“It’s like they’re behind before they can even get started. So us bringing things like clean water is just trying to get them to the starting line so that they can empower themselves. That’s the ‘Let them’ part of Let Them LOL,” Vacanti said.

The non-profit is not only making this possible; it’s also employing the villagers. They dig the wells and repair them.

“There are no permanent Americans on the ground. Our staff, the leadership, and everyone is a Sierra Leonean national. They take a lot of pride in that too,” Toukatly said.

The wells have brought new life to the villages they’ve helped. “It’s not only a health boom, but it can be an economic boom for the village,” Toukatly said.

Also, the children are then able to go to school.

The non-profit has opened an elementary and middle school. It has 300 students. Next, they want to create a high school.

Vacanti says this is not about bringing joy to the people of Sierra Leone, because they have that. It’s about creating opportunities so they can have a better life.

If you want to help Let Them LOL, visit their website to learn more about the group.

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