Five months ago, Waiswa came through the gates of the Sole Hope Outreach House. Though his name was common, his story was everything but. You may remember the paralyzing number of jiggers that were removed from his fragile frame, but let me refresh your memory and introduce you to the boy behind these debilitating parasites.
He was just 14 years old – enough to be considered an adult by almost everyone in Ugandan culture, but still at an age where he needed guidance and nurturing. He spent most of his days as a nomad, wandering from village to village and home to home – except walking became more and more difficult.
Our social workers got word from a local village health leader & local chairman – they had a case of a boy with a very severe case of jiggers they wanted to refer to Sole Hope. Within days, he was bought (along with other children from his area) to the Outreach House for assessment and treatment. It wasn’t until he arrived that we realized just how severe his case was. With over 1,500 jiggers, and a severe case case of malaria, Waiswa had the worst case of jiggers we had EVER seen. He was hardly able to walk, and had countless jiggers in his feet, hands, and elbows (see below).
Waiswa stayed at the Sole Hope Outreach House for several months, with his father, having his jiggers removed, being treated for malaria, and taught about hygiene, prevention, and health.
While this case could be seen as completely hopeless, it is far from it. We were able to visit him and his father, just last month, while resettling Outreach kiddos to their homes in a nearby village. And we are so excited to share that he was JIGGER FREE! This sweet boy, who came to us with the most severe case of 1,500 jiggers, was walking around in his socks and shoes, free from pain, with a big smile on his face and full of HOPE! He was so intent on wearing his shoes everyday, he had almost worn through the first pair of shoes given to him at the Outreach House! We were delighted to give him a new pair of shoes so that he can continue to maintain his #ZEROjiggers lifestyle.
Some of the most painful, severe, & “impossible” cases turn out to have the greatest transformative and hope-filled endings. Yet, this is not yet the end. Waiswa has a beautiful and bright future, something that was threatened by such a horrific parasite. But his case is not the only one. So together we move forward – toward the #nexttwofeet, #ZEROjiggers, and HOPE for the future.
All photos by Kayla Cervenka.