It all began with a large hollow tree. Two-year-old Emile Ouamouno had been fond of playing inside the tree, which was near his home in Meliandou – a village in the heart of the Guinean jungle. But other life had also discovered its cosy confines: bats. Children would sometimes catch them there, before roasting them for dinner. Then Emile got sick. On the 28 December 2013, he succumbed to a violent and mysterious illness. His mother, sister and grandmother were next. And that was it – after the funeral, the disease gradually began to spread. By 23 March 2014, there had been 49 cases and 29 deaths – and scientists confirmed that it was Ebola. Over the next three and a half years, the world looked on in horror as the virus claimed more than 11,325 lives. But while this was going on, another tragedy was unfolding.