Nelson Mandela famously said “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” There are many circumstances that this is an appropriate mantra in our lives. When we approach the large obstacles of life, when the problem seems so big and the finish line so far away we don’t think we will ever accomplish the goal.
The problem of jiggers “seems impossible” to make a difference in. The multifaceted pieces that make this epidemic so daunting are a Goliath that sometimes has us doubting our small stones. You can not compare jiggers to anything… because they are unlike anything else. They are a unique problem that needs addressing.
A few days ago we were presented with a “impossible case”. Sole Hope’s lead social worker received a call from the probation officer in a nearby area. He reported that there was a family that the police took to the hospital, but their jiggers were so bad the hospital would not admit them (we hear this often in Uganda). Upon receiving the call we made the decision to travel to pick up this family even though the Outreach House was already quite busy with healing children.
When the team arrived at the hospital they saw a group of people surrounding the Muslim family laughing and making fun of them. We were able to get them in the van and fill out the proper forms with the police and head to Jinja.
We had never seen cases this bad. Both jiggers and malnutrition were ravaging the children’s bodies.
Asher welcomed the family and spoke to the mother assuring her that we would not look down upon their family here. We want to help and give her and the children a future free from jiggers and the shame that they bring.
After a night’s sleep the team got busy removing jiggers as well as trying to tackle the problem of malnutrition that plagued all four boys. We were able to get assistance from our friends at Serving His Children who specialize in malnutrition. They were a huge help with pointers on how to care for them and getting the boys on a special diet to attempt to put on some weight.
***WARNING: GRAPHIC JIGGER PHOTOS BELOW
During our time in Uganda we have seen some heartbreaking cases of jiggers. The most we had seen to date has been 300 in a young girl’s feet and hands. We knew at first glance that these children would be worse than that.
The removal process took longer than expected and the entire Sole Hope staff, interns, and volunteers pitched in holding and comforting children and performing the jigger removal.
Along this journey we have have seen heartbreak and triumph. When will it be “done”? When will the problem of jiggers be reduced and the public persona of the problem have the same understanding as malaria or HIV? Of course we don’t know, but we believe it is not impossible and we are committed to breaking this cycle in Uganda.
**All Photos: Morgan Judge unless otherwise noted – hand lettering: Maria Sabogal