News / Africa

Kenyan Organization Focuses on Scourge of Jiggers

A resident of Kamuli district in eastern Uganda, displays her foot, infested by jiggers. (File Photo)A resident of Kamuli district in eastern Uganda, displays her foot, infested by jiggers. (File Photo)
x
A resident of Kamuli district in eastern Uganda, displays her foot, infested by jiggers. (File Photo)
A resident of Kamuli district in eastern Uganda, displays her foot, infested by jiggers. (File Photo)
NAIROBI, Kenya - An estimated 2.6 million Kenyans are infected with jiggers, a flea-like parasite that burrows under the skin. Left untreated, jiggers can lead to all kinds of secondary infections, loss of mobility and even death. Some 1.5 million children cannot go to school because of the scourge. A Kenyan organization has assisted in research for the world's first jiggers drug and has been holding medical clinics to help those suffering from the condition, which is linked to poverty and poor hygiene. 
 
It is dubbed "the silent killer" because everyone wants to hide the condition. The feeling of shame at having it is unbearable.

Agnes Wayua knows this only too well. Her 10 children were infected with jiggers; one of her children and a grandchild died because of it.
 
"For that long time of jiggers and poverty, nobody recognized me in the village," she said. "Nobody could visit me or even greet me until they saw some signs of help.  They began coming in one by one to join me because of what they are seeing.  But some others even up to today gossip about me."

Help came from Ahadi Trust Kenya, an aid group aiming to wipe out jiggers in East Africa, provide support for those who have the condition, and reduce its stigma.


Stanley Kamau, Ahadi Trust Kenya's founder and executive director, says he and his group were targets of intense abuse from politicians and community members when they started, five years ago.
 
"I could not visit my village where I was born," he said. "I could not go to the schools where I went to school. The schools I had for many years contributed in building, they could not welcome me."
 
The parasites are usually found under the skin of the feet and hands. Children, who account for more than half the cases, are especially impacted. If their feet are badly infected, they cannot walk to school.
 
Ahadi Trust Kenya was eventually able to open medical camps where the affected come to get treatment and counseling.
 
Social worker Mourine Wangari Karanja is part of an army of volunteers who do what most people would refuse to do.
 
 "I am doing this out of love," said Karanja. "When I was growing up, there were many people around me with jiggers. I used to watch my mother remove jiggers from these people. Now, I am a mother, I spoke to the health workers who gave me medicine to treat the ones who are infected."
 
Karanja and her colleagues treat jigger-infested body parts with soap, water, potassium permanganate, and lotion. There is no drug to cure jiggers, but a German researcher is developing a drug after working with Ahadi Trust Kenya.
 
The tide is turning. Where once Ahadi Trust Kenya and their clients were shunned, they are now becoming celebrities of sorts.
 
Miss World 2011, Miss Europe, Miss World Kenya and the grandson of former South African president Nelson Mandela all washed jigger-infested feet at the group's most recent medical clinic, thrilling the crowds with their presence.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Concerned from: USA
June 01, 2012 1:27 AM
Is this the WHOLE of KENYA or a particular part of the country? I know these infestation is concentrated in a specific area, not the whole of "KENYA", so please make it clear to the rest of the world! Thank you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More