A Non Profit’s Response to the Re-emergence of Ebola in Guinea

The most-recent case of Ebola was reported by the CDC last week in Sierra Leone. Just one month since it’s surrounding nation, Guinea, was declared an Ebola free zone by the World Health Organization in December of last year. Guinea is taking precautions as cross border health screenings have been put in place for those leaving and traveling into the country. To understand the severity of the Ebola crisis and it’s affect on Guinean people, it is important to understand how this crisis began.

The first reported case of Ebola before the 2014 Ebola crisis originated in the southeastern forest region of Guinea before spreading to other parts of West Africa—including Liberia and Sierra Leone. Not much was done about this first reported incident of Ebola in Guinea and in August of 2013, Guinea President Alpha Conde attended the U.S. Summit which included a photo-op session with U.S. President Barack Obama.

2014 Ebola Outbreak Map of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia Photo: Wikimedia
2014 Ebola Outbreak Map of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia Photo: Wikimedia

Conde’s response stood in stark contrast to his other political counterparts, including Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma. Both of whom opted to skip the U.S. Summit in Washington to tackle the growing number of cases of infected Ebola patients in their countries.

In fact, much of Guinea’s government response to the ever-growing Ebola crisis in 2014 failed to compete with other nations due to fears that Guinea would be stigmatized as an “Ebola infected nation”and discourage refugees from considering Guinea as a safe spot.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama His Excellency Alpha Conde President of the Republic of Guinea, and Mrs. Djene Kaba Conde, in the Blue Room during a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner at the White House, Aug. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo: Amanda Lucidon)
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, His Excellency Alpha Conde
President of the Republic of Guinea, and Mrs. Djene Kaba Conde, in the Blue Room during a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Photo: Amanda Lucidon

The Guinean government’s lack of response to this issue only worked to increase the rapid number of Ebola-infected Guineans during 2014. A government which spends only 2.4% of it’s budget on healthcare. Not to mention, the ongoing rumors that the Guinean government was involved in intentionally spreading the virus in Guinea with the hope of luring patients to hospitals and harvesting their blood and organs.

These rumors only grew in size when a team of eight Ebola educators were brutally attacked and murdered by locals in Guinea who feared they were being tricked by the Guinean government.

“Ebola is nothing more than an invention of white people to kill black people.”—a common belief by many locals in Guinea still resonates in a nation that has since been declared Ebola free. However this relief was short-lived when the CDC announced that the Ebola virus claimed the lives of 11,000 West Africans, killing a total of 2, 536 adults and children in Guinea. The deadliest Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Health workers wearing protective suits assist a patient suspected of having Ebola on their way to an Ebola treatment centre run by the French Red Cross in Patrice near Macenta Photo: Japan Times
Health workers wearing protective suits assist a patient suspected of having Ebola on their way to an Ebola treatment centre run by the French Red Cross in Patrice near Macenta Photo: Japan Times

On the heels of a nation being officially declared an Ebola free zone, the first case of Ebola this year was officially reported in Sierra Leone. This week, Russia has responded to reports that Guinea will once-again become an infected nation by donating a $10 million mobile Ebola research lab to Guinea.

Russia's Mobile Research Lab in Guinea Photo: RT
Russia’s Mobile Research Lab in Guinea Photo: RT

Earlier this month, Russia developed a new drug for Ebola, which according to the Russian Health Ministry is proving to be more effective at treating Ebola than other drugs like it on the market. This month Guinean government officials have plans in place for Russia to distribute the drug as needed to offset the possible reemergence of the Ebola crisis in Guinea.

A non profit initiative that is looking forward to tackling this issue alongside the Guinean Government and locals fearing the return of Ebola is Connecting With Love. Founded on Christmas Day last year, the Chicago-based non profit was founded by Fatima Kollie, who is originally from Guinea. Kollie’s organization currently provides 20 Guinean kids with housing, clothing, food, and other aid.

Connecting With Love Non Profit founded by Fatima Kollie
Connecting With Love Non Profit founded by Fatima Kollie

The non profit Connecting With Love hopes that their initiative helps to bridge the gap between the Guinean government and locals through educating the public on the severity of the Ebola crisis through it’s community outreach in Guinea and ‘Ebola 101’ live chats on social media.

Focused on spreading awareness of a cause that goes largely unnoticed, Connecting With Love hopes that it’s efforts shine a light on children in Guinea. “The children of Guinea are subjected to a whole variety of terrible things, including starvation, poverty, all kinds of abuse, sex slavery and forced prostitution,” said Kollie. “Most of the kids in Guinea have no hope for a decent future and many take their own lives.”

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Founder Fatima Kollie (Far Left) with the 20 Guinean children Connecting With Love supports

Connecting With Love eventually hopes to be able to help even more children as the non profit has plans to expand this year. The non profit’s social media director, Mike O’Connor, realizes the importance donations play towards helping Guinea recover from the Ebola crisis,“The natives of Guinea can literally find a use for anything that we ship them,”

Donations for Connecting With Love can be sent through the mail via the address on their Facebook page. “We will come and pick up donations, if possible in the greater Chicago area. You can mail, or drop off anything that you want to donate to our cause. Every little bit helps. Every pen. Every nail.” says O’Connor.

For more information on how you can help the families and children of Guinea dealing with the aftermath of the 2014 Ebola crisis, visit the Connecting With Love Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter, @ConnectingWLove.

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