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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs