| By Shelby Theisen
In 2014 there was a major Ebola outbreak in western Africa. Years after the outbreak, African countries such as Guinea are still overcoming the epidemic. Gueckedou, a town located in Guinea, was among those greatly affected by the outbreak.
Gueckedou, located near the border with Sierra Leonne and Liberia, countries which were also greatly affected, is made up of several villages with a total population of around 250,000. It was determined that the outbreak may have originated in Gueckedou in 2013 (Red Cross).
Even after the outbreak seemed to be contained, villages that make up Gueckedou are still dealing with the aftermath of the epidemic. Efforts are currently in place by multiple organizations to continue making progress towards full recovery in towns like Gueckedou. These organizations formed in the years following the Ebola outbreak, with a shared goal of restoring and improving the former conditions of affected towns and villages. SOS Gueckedou is one of these organizations.
SOS Gueckedou is an organization formed by Gueckedou residents. Members of SOS Gueckedou focus on improving the most vulnerable populations in Ebola torn communities. Additionally, some socio-economic assistance to Ebola survivors was provided through income-generating activities. Still looking for more ways to improve the lives of those overcoming the outbreak, Francois Phopho Kamano, a native of Guinea, traveled to Orlando, Florida, to learn about ways to improve the situation in towns like Gueckedou from IDEAS for Us.
Located in Orlando, Florida, IDEAS For Us is an organization whose goal is to “develop, fund, and scale solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges and to create global environmental solutions through local action” (https://ideasforus.org/mission/).
After four months of intensive training, Francois Phopho Kamano returned to Gueckedou and began implementing some of what he learned while in Florida. In 2018, a branch of IDEAS for Us in Guinea was formed, which is currently working to restore sustainability and community pride within the town of Gueckedou.
With the newly learned processes, the Guinea branch has launched a project that is using volunteer residents and local officials to plant 50 native trees along a river that is used as a celebration gathering spot, a move that will not only improve the environment of the area, but which will also support community pride.
There are also efforts to preserve important cultural traditions, such as the well-known community market in Gueckedou. People from all three countries gather to buy and sell, cook food, and generally gather to socialize.
Social, economic, and environmental conditions will continue to improve for the town of Gueckedou as efforts adopted from the IDEAS organization are implemented throughout villages.