Today on the blog, our intern, Jordan, shares with you a little bit more about what our Outreach House intake procedures look like. While each time it can be slightly different, this gives you a general idea of how children make it to the Outreach House & what happens when they arrive. Since not everyone will be able to see this process first-hand, we want to invite everyone into what happens at the Outreach House here on the ground in Uganda. – Lis Steckle, International Coordinator

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures and read stories about both difficult jigger removals and the joyful faces of kids playing and laughing at the Sole Hope Outreach House. What you might be wondering is “How do these children end up at the Outreach House?” and “How are they cared for once they arrive at the Outreach House?” The Outreach House identification and intake processes can be difficult to picture if you’ve never had the opportunity to visit our facilities in Uganda, but they are a vital part of what we do. Today, we share with you more about what these processes look like.

The first step of the process is to identify a community affected by jiggers within approximately a two-hour radius of Jinja. One of our incredible social workers, Peter, is responsible for this job. The identification process can often vary from week-to-week. Sometimes, Peter will reach out to a Village Chairman, other times a Village Chairman will seek Peter out to ask for assistance. Sometimes the leaders in one village we have worked with will even refer a nearby village to us. No matter how a village is identified, Peter explains the mission of Sole Hope and describes to the Village Chairman the ways in which we can partner with his community, ultimately needing his approval before we continue along through this process.

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Once a village has accepted, a small group of Sole Hope staff members climb in our bright green matatu (van) and travel to the village to gather patients. The Village Chairman, along with members of the Village Health Team (VHT), then lead the Sole Hope team to those who are most affected by jiggers throughout the community. The Sole Hope team talks with these individuals, children, & caretakers about what we do and how we can serve them. Sometimes, this can be a challenge. Without fully understanding what Sole Hope’s mission is, they can be hesitant, often due to the stigma that surrounds jiggers in the Busoga Region. However, our social workers, nurses, and educators do a wonderful job of replacing their fear with HOPE – allowing these individuals to see what their futures could look like with #ZEROjiggers. Once the Sole Hope team has spoken with and gathered several family units plagued by jiggers, they climb back into the matatu and head to Jinja with the new patients.

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Upon arrival at the outreach house, each new patient takes a shower, receives a new set of clothes, and socks for their feet. The next morning, the Sole Hope doctor examines them in his office at the Outreach House to assess the severity of their cases and ensure that they don’t have any other medical issues that need attention. Finally, an Outreach House jigger-removal clinic is held at the turquoise tables outside, where each new patient has his or her jiggers removed by Sole Hope staff member.

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There is often pain during these removals, but the JOY seen just hours afterwards is palpable as these children run around and play & families are now jigger-free. Each time the team brings new patients to the Outreach House, the staff, interns, and volunteers welcome them with open arms, knowing that this pain is temporary, but there is HOPE in a future with #ZEROjiggers.

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All photos by Gary Chapman (www.garyschapman.com).