Ebola: Together, we can beat it

Ebola - Together we can beat itThe recent cases of Ebola in the United States have shown us all how scary the disease, or even the threat of it, can be. This is a reality that the people of Guinea have been living with daily since March of this year, when the first cases were reported in Macenta. To date, there have been nearly two thousand cases reported and almost a thousand deaths. And this is just the official numbers. It’s impossible to tell how many people in outlying villages are suffering and dying. The government of Guinea has set up quarantine areas for patients, but they quickly overflowed and simply couldn’t let new patients in. The lack of medical supplies and even the most basic protection gear, such as latex gloves, is causing higher contagion rates and many medical workers have become patients themselves, further complicating the situation.

In partnership with our friends from Medical Bridges, AFG would like to provide the medical personnel of Guinea with protective and sanitation supplies, so we can stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. But, for this, we need your help. Please consider donating to our Disease Treatment and Prevention initiative. All donations will be used to purchase and ship life-saving medical equipment to our friends in Guinea. Every little bit helps. At AFG we truly believe that, together, we can keep beat the Ebola virus once and for all.

Act now to help us fight ebola!

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Eric Alexander to speak at “One Night, One well” Gala

Eric AlexanderWe are honored and excited to announce that Mr. Eric Alexander will be the speaker at our upcoming gala.

Eric Alexander, skier, climber, and mountaineer is achieving his goals while playing an instrumental role in helping others to achieve their own. On May 25th 2001 Eric defied the odds and scaled Mt. Everest guiding his blind- friend Erik Weihenmayer to its lofty 29,035? summit. In 2002 the pair traveled to Russia and climbed Mt. Elbrus at 18,500 ft, and again found success on Mt. Kosciusko, Australia –– two more of the seven summits (the highest points on each of the seven continents) notably the pair skied from the top of each of these latter two – making this the first-ever blind ski descents. Eric shares this inspirational story with audiences all over the country and when he is not traveling he teaches disabled skiers in Vail, Colorado and directs Adventures Beyond Limits, an organization that educates and encourages youth with disabilities in the outdoors. Learn more about his adventures.

Register today to here Mr. Alexander speak and help us provide real solutions for our friends in need.

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October 15 – Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is global hand-washing day. This wonderful event, originally intended to promote hygiene habits in schools, is now being celebrated by over 200 million people around the world, in over 100 countries. It’s amazing, but the simple act of hand-washing with soap is the least expensive and most effective way to prevent contagious diseases. This is especially important in developing countries like Guinea, where these maladies claim the lives of thousands of people each year. This year’s gala “One Night, One Well” will help us build a well and install sanitation facilities in two over-crowded Guinean schools. With your support, we can make sure we are able to celebrate hand-washing day next year in Kipe! Learn more about hand-washing day here.

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November 2, 2013

Houston Hilton Westchase – 9999 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77042

Special Guests: “Great Day Houston” host Deborah Duncan

Author, climber and mountaineer Eric Alexander

Entertainment: The Next Level Band

6:00 – Cocktails and Silent Auction

7:30 – Dinner and Live Auction

We hope you will join us for an evening of entertainment and giving. Here is some of what you can expect at our event this year:

  • We will have a fun photo booth where our guests can take personalized pictures with African backgrounds and props to take home.
  • Silent and live auctions featuring beautiful Guinean art, wonderful trips and lots of other goodies, just in time for the holidays.
  • A delicious three-course dinner provided by Rio Ranch Steakhouse.
  • Stay and dance the night away to music by The Next Level Band
  • Learn more about AFG’s work in Guinea, as well as the chance to contribute to any of our exciting projects.

This year’s “Fund-a-Need” will benefit the students and staff of Kipe High and Middle School. The proceeds will be used to install a water well, build functioning toilet facilities and provide soap.

learn more
Inadequate water supply and sanitation facilities in schools, aside from being a health hazard, affect school attendance, retention and educational performance, especially in girls.

In Guinea, 90% of public schools lack water supply and sanitation facilities including the biggest university in Conakry, which has more than five thousand students.  In addition, less than 10% of schools have hand-washing facilities next to latrines. This means that infections and diseases spread quickly and illness causes

After surveying four overpopulated schools in Conakry to collect some baseline data and identify the need, we found that each institution has between 2,500 and 3,600 students and between 70 and 140 teachers. None of these schools have water and none of the existing latrines are functional. At each school, girls were asked if they use the toilets at school and they all responded that they do not. Instead, they walk out of school to go into the neighborhood when they need to go to the restroom.
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This year’s gala will benefit the 3,582 students and 42 faculty members of Kipe High and Middle Schools, as well as members of the surrounding community. Our goal is to:
– Construct water wells in the school  and help sanitize existing water through chlorination.
– Build and improve toilet and hand-washing facilities with separate lavatories for girls and boys.
– Educate and encourage the school staff and students to implement the program in their daily routine and reinforce the behavior.
– Encourage the implementation of reward programs, such as naming hand-washing champions in each school to promote the importance of cleanliness and sanitation.
– Support school participation in Global Hand Washing Day, a multi-partner global awareness-raising initiative celebrated in over 85 countries each year. The focus of the program is on schools and school-age children. Many countries use it as an opportunity to raise awareness and to launch year-round programs in schools. For example, children promote hand washing in television spots, mobile phone messages are used to reach millions of people and children sign pledges to wash their hands with soap before meals.

If you would like to volunteer, make a donation or become a sponsor, contact us.
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Read about our successful 2012 gala “The Art of Friendship” here.

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AFG Receives Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration Grant

We are thrilled to announce that AFG has received a Grand Challenges Exploration grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This grants funds new and innovative ideas to solve the world’s persistent health problem. AFG will be running a pilot project that will allow people living in remote areas of Guinea to directly communicate via text message with our Labomobil© and alert us when disease strikes. The mobile lab will then be sent to these areas to diagnose and collect data. We are hopeful that this will provide useful information that will allow AFG, the Ministry of Health and other health organizations to eradicate tropical diseases which are still all too common in Guinea. Read the full press release here.

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American Friends of Guinea Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development


Bel Cevallos, Director of Development

Tel: 832.456.8104   Fax: 832.300.2516



American Friends of Guinea

Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant

For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development

Houston, TX – American Friends of Guinea (AFG) announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Bebe Sylla, Program Director will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Short Message Service (SMS) and mobile laboratory technologies to improve the identification and response time to neglected tropical diseases (NTD) in Guinea”.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.  AFG’s project is one of over 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, AFG and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, neglected tropical diseases and communications. Applications for the next Round will be accepted starting September 2013.

This grant will allow AFG to launch a participatory disease alert system, allowing community members throughout rural Guinea to alert health authorities about suspicious symptoms and possible epidemics. AFG’s Labomobil©, an all-terrain vehicle outfitted with laboratory equipment (laminar flow hood, incubator, centrifuge, refrigerator, fluorescent microscope) and its own energy and water sources, capable of withstanding the hardships of African climate and roads, will then respond to the alerts, gathering data and alerting the authorities.

During the first two months of the project, AFG will hold educational seminars in villages to teach the population how to identify signs and symptoms of acute NTDs, as well as how to send an alert SMS to a server, which will run an open source SMS analyzing program. The SMS will contain simple codes for villages and types of diseases suspected by the residents. When the number of reports from the villages reaches a threshold based on the number of residents and cell phone users in each village, the Labomobil© will visit the sites and conduct diagnosis. The mobile laboratory visit schedule will be announced to the case reporters via SMS.  The two main goals of the project are: (1) to educate people in outlying villages on identifying cases of LF, onchocerciasis, and STH and how to report the occurrences via SMS; and (2) to build a response system that expedites the correct identification of disease outbreaks in regions that have not been regularly surveyed for these NTDs previously.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, over 800 people in more than 50 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants.  The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization.  The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required.  Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.


About American Friends of Guinea (AFG)

AFG is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to help the citizens of the Republic of Guinea, located in West Africa, improve their quality of life, with a focus on providing real solutions to the country’s medical and economic needs. The mission of AFG is to promote the wellbeing of the people of Guinea by supporting and implementing sustainable health, social and economic development programs.

More information about AFG can be found at www.afguinea.org | Facebook: www.facebook.com/afguinea | Twitter: @AFGuinea



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Bringing Water to Schools

We have been fortunate enough to have great success with our water and sanitation projects in hospitals around Conakry, Guinea’s capital. According to the Director of Jean Paul II, Dr. Soumah, the installation of the well and subsequent sanitation program has helped reduce its hospital acquired infections by more than 60%, and has lowered patient-to-patient spread of infections by almost 90%, especially in cholera cases. These results have been similar at all the other hospital AFG has helped.

Learn more about our school water and sanitation project


This year’s fundraiser gala, “One Night, One Well”, will benefit Guinean children attending Kipe High and Middle School. Our goal is to bring clean running water to over 3,000 children attending over-crowded schools, a situation made worse by the lack of sanitation facilities, which cause rapid spread of disease and infection amongst the students and their families. This also leads to poor attendance and performance, often resulting in early withdrawal from school. The proceeds from this event will be used to install a water well and functioning toilet facilities that will serve both schools.

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Update on little Sawdah

Our favorite Peace Corps volunteer Deborah LaFavre went back to Gambia to visit and brought news back with her.

She had this to say about her stay: “One of the highlights of my trip was getting to meet Sawdah and her entire family! Baba, Sawdah, and Mom had just returned from their follow up doctor’s appointment in Guinea. Baba was bursting to explain everything! He told us all about their travels to Guinea. He explained the surgery and how the implanted shunt works to drain the fluid from her head to her stomach where it leaves the body naturally. He showed me more “before” photos and explained how the fluid used to be in the back of her head and on top. However, all the fluid in the back has drained and only the fluid on the top remains. He had me touch her head to feel the soft, liquidy, spot. He told me how much they learned at the hospital in Guinea. For example, Sawdah is now 18+ months, but because of the weight of her head, she is physically under-developed. She cannot sit up on her own, crawl, and even rolling over is difficult. The staff in Guinea showed Baba and his wife how to exercise Sawdah and move and manipulate her body to keep the muscles from atrophying. As the fluid drains and her body grows, she will eventually be able to do all those things. Since her physical development is delayed, staff emphasizes how important nutrition will be in order for her to “catch up”. Baba had no idea there were so many others in the world affected by this condition. He saw many people worse off than his little girl and sadly, had to comfort some who lost their loved one to hydrocephalus. He is forever changed by this experience. While in Conakry, he stocked up on American Friends of Guinea and hydrocephalus literature and now distributes them in Banjul hospitals and clinics along with his phone number. He has become an advocate for AFG and provides support and hydrocephalus education to any other Gambian who receives the same dire diagnosis and prognosis that he received one year ago.”

We could not be happier to have Baba and his family as our partners in identifying and treating hydrocephalus. Together, and with the help of our supporters, we can make sure no child suffering from hydrocephalus is neglected, not only in Guinea, but in all of West Africa.

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World Water Day

The UN has chosen March 22 as a day to focus the world’s attention in the importance of water and stress the importance of responsible and long-term water use and preservation. Water is absolutely essential to life and the planet’s reserves are not limitless. Many countries, such as Guinea, already suffer from a lack of access to clean potable water and the consequences can be felt in every aspect of life: health, economy, business, etc.

Read more about World Water Day: http://www.unwater.org/water-cooperation-2013/events/world-water-day/en/

See what AFG is doing to help Guineans have access to clean water
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What AFG is doing to bring water to Guineans

One of AFG’s main concerns has been to make sure hospitals and health centers have running, potable water. It is a basic necessity that is missing from many facilities in the country. We have built wells and connected plumbing in various health centers in the coastal area. Installing plumbing and faucets for direct water access is very important, especially in hospitals. Studies have shown that there is often significant deterioration of water quality between the time that water is taken from the source and the time it reaches the mouth or hands.

This year, proceeds from our annual gala will go towards starting a water and sanitation project in a large Conakry school. Inadequate water supply and sanitation facilities in schools, aside from being a health hazard, affect school attendance, retention and educational performance. 90% of the public schools in Guinea lack water supply and sanitation facilities including the biggest university in Conakry, which has more than five thousand students. Less than 10% of schools have hand-washing facilities next to latrines. This means that infections and diseases spread quickly and many students stay at home due to illness.

We believe that, with the help of our generous supporters, we can make clean water available to our friends in Guinea, which can have an effect in all aspects of life, including health and education.

Learn more about our water and sanitation activities
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  • AFG needs your help! We depend on contributions from foundations, companies and individuals to continue our work in Guinea.

    Our primary goal is to assist hospitals and health centers in Guinea who care for the welfare of the Guinean population. We do this by providing medical aid, improving and upgrading existing infrastructure in health facilities and implementing disease prevention and treatment programs.

    We also aim to improve the overall quality of life of the population by supporting and promoting economic growth and technical development.

    You can make a difference!