On December 29, 2015, Guinea was declared "Ebola-free" by the World Health Organization. The epidemic infected 28,000 people across West Africa, and Guinea lost 2,536 people to the virus. In the aftermath, MindLeaps' services have become more critical than ever. Families need emergency services: nutrition and psychosocial counseling. Youth need to go to school - and stay in school - in order to understand what happened and how to prevent future outbreaks.
One of the most widely reported challenges in Guinea is the stigma associated with Ebola. Survivors are often forbidden to touch people. There is a backlash against foreign aid agencies from uneducated youth that believe the virus was brought to Guinea by the health workers themselves. On a daily basis, families are struggling to keep their children in school after months of school closures. The key to addressing these challenges is to engage youth and track them solidly into education.
MindLeaps has been working in the town of Kindia since 2011 with a track record of success. Now, MindLeaps is ready to serve families struggling in the capital with the same program: attracting vulnerable youth to safe centers through dance; empowering these youth through our tested curriculum; providing essential health classes; and supporting their families through nutritional support and counseling services to address the new economic and social pressures felt from the epidemic.
The MindLeaps program bridges the transition from the street to the public school system while reducing drop out rates of those youth already in school. By educating the lowest level of Guinean society, we create a society better able to prevent future epidemics because they can read, write and understand information. Most importantly, these youth - now equipped with an education and strengthened self-esteem - become productive members of their communities on a daily basis.