One of our interns, Jordan, was able to sit down and talk with a science teacher at the school we held a jigger removal clinic at last Thursday. They discussed how he believes their community has been affected by jiggers, and what he hopes to see in the future – striving to be a school with #ZEROjiggers. We are excited to return to this school in the near future! – Lis Steckle, International Coordinator

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with a teacher at the school where we held our weekly village jigger removal clinic. A science teacher for Primary 5 & Primary 7, Mulyabintu Muzaham has been teaching classes at Busende Primary for two years. I was really looking forward to hearing from an involved community member about how & why a community that Sole Hope serves is affected by jiggers, and what some of the perceptions are that go along with that.

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Photo by Jordan Kelly

Muzaham explained that the approximately 950 students at Busende Primary have been harshly affected by jiggers for some time. He regularly sees kids limping, scratching, and complaining of pain caused by these parasites. Most alarmingly, he mentioned that around 20 students have dropped out of school this year due to jiggers, a problem that seems much more real hearing it first-hand. It is not necessarily the pain and discomfort jiggers cause that led these children to drop out, but rather the stigma associated with having them. These kids would rather discontinue their education than face the harassment from peers that they feel is inevitable because they have jiggers. Unfortunately, this stigma and the shame that accompanies it can cause the problem to be much worse than it otherwise might be. This shame leads to the lack of treatment, furthering the problem of jiggers altogether.

Aware of the jigger problem at their school, Busende teachers and administrators have made an effort to tackle it. However, when children at Busende have jiggers, they are very unlikely to turn to a teacher for help because they don’t want any attention drawn to themselves. Muzaham feels that the main role the school should play in tackling the jigger problem is to educate parents about how to prevent their children from contracting them as well as the removal process, but he doesn’t feel like the training being provided at the meetings has been very effective. This is why he was thrilled when he heard that Sole Hope was going to hold a clinic at Busende.

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Photo by Jordan Kelly

What excited Muzaham most about Sole Hope coming to his school was that we would be providing the means for a large quantity of students and other community members to have their jiggers removed and receive shoes all in just a few short hours. He explained that in order to truly wipe jiggers out of Busende, the stigma associated with having them must also disappear (something that is only possible with education). Not only would this pave the way for the proper treatment of jiggers, but also allow children to return to school without fear of being ridiculed or ashamed of this treatable parasite. He hopes to be able to eliminate this stigma by developing a true partnership with Sole Hope – holding jigger removal clinics at Busende, providing education on the real causes and prevention measures that will help eliminate jiggers, and having the school staff reinforce Sole Hope’s efforts.

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Photo by @wanderingwithmary

We are excited to be partnering with this school, the teachers, and staff, who are able to see the issues and truly want to play a part in bringing change to their community. We are in the processing of planning a clinic to return to the area while school is in session, seeing more of the student body, talking more with the staff about educating the students and their parents, as well as reinforcing prevention measures. It takes time to see change in a community that is plagued by jiggers, as this community is, but having a team of local leaders who are proactive in looking for a solution to this debilitating issue is one big step forward. We are looking forward to seeing this school & community move towards #ZEROjiggers, starting with the #nexttwofeet.