Before the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, 47% of the population was living below the poverty line (CIA, 2015). Since 2014, West Africa has had over 11,000 deaths from Ebola. Five months after Liberia was declared Ebola-free, Guinea is still dealing with newly confirmed cases and over 2,500 deaths (BBC, 2015). MindLeaps has been serving youth in Guinea since 2011. Now, 250 of these youth and their families are in need of humanitarian relief in the town of Kindia.
Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world and is facing a massive crisis known as the "youth bulge": 42% of the population is under the age of 14, and 90% of the population is under the age of 55. Youth are forced to become caretakers of their siblings before they even have the chance to complete their own education, thereby creating a vicious poverty cycle where only 30% of the population is literate (CIA, 2015). The youth bulge crisis is now compounded with the outbreak of Ebola.
Working with the locally run community group Association Benka-Fissa, MindLeaps provides services six days/week in the town of Kindia. Using high-energy dance classes to attract youth off the streets, MindLeaps' curriculum improves cognitive skills and provides psychosocial support. Youth also receive a daily meal, health information and language support. Regularly, the students present dance-theatre performances to the community in order to disseminate lessons about health and safety.
MindLeaps tackles the problems of poverty, aid distribution and a lack of information by focusing on the youth. By creating a program that draws youth to the town's community center, bonds are formed with the youth and their family members. The youth regularly attend and become the gateway to identifying the families most in need. Aid is then distributed effectively. At the same time, MindLeaps is tacking the root causes of the problem: lack of access to education and illiteracy.