OVPs: Rae’s Jiggers Project

What have I been doing in my silence? Living. A friend reminded me that’s what we should be doing and I quite agree.

Sometime’s I want to do it all. I want to tackle each and every one of Kenya’s health and social ills and solve them. Then I want to move to another country and solve their ills too. I can’t, sadly. I’ve realized one way to do my small part is to help volunteers with their projects when I can. OVPs = other volunteer projects.

Rae has done fantastic work for the last 3-6 months coordinating a mass jiggers campaign in her area. Jiggers is a sand flea that burrows into the skin, usually the hands and feet, and without treatment it could lead to immobility or an inability to use the limbs where the infection has progressed.

There were some children who crawled to the treatment area because they were in too much pain to walk. There were over 200 community members treated. The photos below show the treatment day. The treatment was conducted in phases. Each patient’s infected areas was washed with soap and water and their nails were clipped. The newly cleaned areas received their first 15 minute soak in the purple dying potassium permanganate followed by oiling with vaseline. Each patient was sent home with all the goods and medicine to continue their treatment as directed by the community health workers. Later each home was fumigated to kill the flea and each patient was provided with a pair of shoes. Not wearing shoes in an un-cemented area is usually the dangerous practice that leads to the infection.

I would love to do this project in my community after seeing the extreme cases. I had a chat with my public health worker thinking we didn’t have jiggers and was told that shame, poverty and the advanced cases where people can’t walk prevent treatment. I think we need to do something about this. I’m not sure if time or funding will permit me to execute this project but I will continue to help Rae in anyway I can as this will be a focus of her work for our remaining 6 months in Kenya.

It was such a transformation. As they left children and adults alike were laughing and so hopeful.

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