Fanta Oulen Camara is a smart, stylish, and streetwise young woman from Guinea, the country where the ongoing Ebola outbreak began in late 2013/early 2014. Yet even with her high levels of education and street smarts, Fanta could not avoid the Ebola virus when it arrived at her doorstep in the form of a sick cousin. At the time, her family was not aware of the Ebola outbreak, which started in a remote area of Guinea far from Fanta's home in the capital city of Conakry. So when their cousin arrived, they took him in without hesitation – an act of compassion that set off a chain of Ebola transmission that ran through the household.
In the end, a total of nine family members were infected with Ebola from their undiagnosed cousin. Fanta was one of them. With no Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) yet established in their area, Fanta and her relatives went to a local hospital. With supportive care, three of them survived, including Fanta. Tragically, the remaining six died, including Fanta's father.
Like many survivors across the region, Fanta did not allow her personal tragedies to keep her from picking up the pieces of her life and trying to move forward. Somewhat ironically, moving forward has actually entailed some degree of moving back: following her recovery, Fanta signed up to work as a psychosocial counselor in the ETC that was eventually established near her home.
From the pain of living with Ebola and losing her loved ones, to the joy of having survived, Fanta draws upon her own experience to comfort and support fellow Ebola victims at the ETC. "I tell them that used to be sick too, that I lost parents just like they did. But I didn't give up because of that. I kept fighting," she says. Thanks to early treatment and sheer determination, Fanta won her fight against Ebola, and there is no doubt she has helped others overcome as well.