Page Updated on:- Thu. 14/10/2010
Africa showing Guinea
Have you met anyone who takes in, feeds, clothes and sends to school 20 children and pays for everything out of their own salary? Dr. Nicole Fraser, of St. Keverne, has met such a person, Dr. Elizabeth Catherine Loua who really goes the extra mile. She is a mother, a wife, a gynaecologist in a completely under-resourced Health Centre in an impoverished suburb of Conakry, a health educator in order to prevent early pregnancy and HIV infection. She is also the saviour of children, often unwanted and abandoned, found locally along the road side, in front of the church or at the hospital door.


In 1998, Dr. Loua founded a charity in Conakry, Guinea, which is non-political, non-governmental, and is non-profit-making. It is still guided by Dr Loua, in order to help unmarried child mothers and to rescue unwanted children. Its aims are to aid sanitation, to educate in health, general life skills and parenting, and to seek the welfare of vulnerable children.

The charity is called FELICA, (the Foundation of Elisabeth Catherine), and it came to our attention through Dr. Fraser, who works with various communities in a health related role. In 2005 she was given a cheque from a Helston school Mini-Sure-Start project to give to a charity, and here she is presenting it to Elisabeth Catherine.

Walking with Dr. Cathy through her neighbourhood feels like being at the side of a VIP. Dr. Cathy is a local celebrity; she is adored and respected for her service to humanity. Local people know what it means, to take an additional 160 children to school and to ensure their nutrition, health and well-being, even for a medical doctor. However, not having anything to spare themselves, the local population can not give Dr. Cathy the support she needs. For Dr. Cathy, it was not a conscious decision to start an orphan project and to found the organisation FELICA. It was more of a moral obligation. Asked about her life and the project, she says "It is wonderful! It is wonderful to see children developing who would otherwise not have made it".
Dr. Catherine Loua
Dr. Catherine Loua ©N.F.
Dr. Loua and Nicole Fraser
Dr. Loua and Nicole Fraser ©N.F.
Fondation FELICA does outstanding work in orphan care and service provision to young mothers in Guinea, West Africa. The organisation is the first and only organisation which has received the quality accreditation by the Guinean National AIDS Council. Operational costs are kept to the absolute minimum, which means that donations reach the end beneficiary.

FELICA currently looks after 160 orphans, many of them were found as new-borns, abandoned by their mothers who were incapable of keeping them. Dr. Cathy knows a lot about this type of mothers, some have been raped, some are simply too young, or on their own, and can not afford to look after a child. Most of the orphans live in foster families, some have been adopted by Dr Cathy. Visiting one of the households where FELICA supports 5 children, the following story is told:-

It was a polygamous household of a husband with three wives and 17 children. Two wives and the husband had died of AIDS, the remaining wife is ill. The oldest boy is 17 years old and is, as the oldest male, in charge of the other 16 children. All of them have seen unimaginable pain, seeing their parents dying a slow death. AIDS cases are still stigmatised by the society, they lack appropriate health care, food and, above all, acceptance and love.

Guinea has been suffering from poor governance, widespread corruption and a catastrophic economic situation brought about by the autocratic, long-serving president General Conte who died in December 2008. The whole region is unstable with civil unrest in Ivory Coast, Liberia, Togo and Guinea-Bissau. Inflation is high and prices keep going up while salaries remain low in a context of massive unemployment.

Supporting FELICA is a good investment. The organisation does "simple" things like getting every orphan to school and ensuring nutrition, psychosocial and medical care, which is often not innovative and fancy enough for a donor to finance. FELICA also plays an important role in AIDS prevention and family planning in young women, socio-professional development of orphans and income generating projects for foster families. Dr. Cathy is a very compassionate and intelligent woman who does not accept that poverty numbs her environment to an extent in which unwanted children are left to die.

Aid to developing countries has become very complex. Those who give are often disappointed about the inefficient disbursements to those in need, the enormous delays and the high administrative costs. A donation to FELICA does not incur these problems: Close to 100% of the money goes to the target groups, partly on humanitarian aid (nutrition, school fees), partly on developmental objectives (AIDS prevention among girls, vocational training for older orphans to increase their chances for employment, etc.). A small percentage will be use for the rent of the orphan's house, fuel to take food and health care to the target households, telephone and Internet connection. FELICA has the balance right between emergency aid and long term development. It is true that providing good aid is difficult. At the same time, it is also quite simple and simply necessary.
Dr. Loua`s children
Dr. Loua`s children ©N.F.