Andrew is a man with dual university degrees in Biology and Geography. He is fluent in eight languages. He loves his home country of Uganda. “God has given this country everything,” he says. “We have lakes, forests, food, fertile soil, and mountains.”
With his love of geography and some technical expertise, Andrew became a surveyor for a company in Kampala. He traveled by car from border to border and by boat to the many islands in Lake Victoria processing land titles. “I’m an expert in that,” he says simply.
Andrew is fiercely loyal, so when his mom, Prossy, got sick, he didn’t hesitate to drop everything to go and care for her. “When you have a child, you are his guardian,” he explains. But as his mom aged, their roles reversed. “Now I am her guardian,” he says.
Andrew moved from his home to a temporary structure made of sticks and leaves. He did the best he could for Prossy, but she didn’t improve and he, too became ill. “Jiggers attacked my mom, and when I went to care for her, they even attacked me,” he says.
Jiggers are a parasite that burrows into a person’s skin, attach to a blood vessel, and swell to about the size of a green pea. Having a few jiggers is itchy and painful. Being infested is crippling physically, socially, and financially. “Because of jiggers, we had problems,” Andrew says. He looks down at his hands as he organizes his thoughts.
“You cannot go to the people,” he says. “You fear people.” And he is right. Jiggers are socially stigmatized. Sole Hope’s social workers often find our patients completely isolated from their community.
Andrew ticks off the next problem on his fingers. “You cannot go to the garden to dig and get food. You lack food at home.” It’s painful to walk, and people are exhausted and depleted by the parasites.
“Poverty,” Andrew says simply. “You lack money because you cannot work well.” People struggle to work because of the physical difficulty and also the social isolation. With a severe case of jiggers, it can be tough to make ends meet.
All because of an insect.
For six years, Andrew’s mom suffered from jiggers. She was bedridden, and on the rare occasions she went out, she walked doubled over with the help of a stick. Andrew deteriorated as he struggled to help her without the proper knowledge or tools. He lost his business; he lost his home, he lost his health.
When Andrew’s son came to check on his father and grandmother, he was shocked. He couldn’t believe the state he found his family living in. “What can we do?” Andrew asked. The son knew of Sole Hope and recommended making the journey to Jinja. “There’s no problem, let’s go,” Andrew said.
During the two weeks at The Hope Center, Andrew and Prossy felt their lives change. Their jiggers were removed, their wounds healed, and their health was restored. “Mom is now moving very well,” Andrew says. “She would have died shortly, but now I know she will survive. That’s good.”
Andrew and Prossy went home last Friday. As the van rolled into their village, neighbors started to gather. As the doors of the van opened, Prossy eased her way down to the ground. She stood on her own two feet looking at her friends and neighbors and, with a smile, she began to dance. Prossy, who had been bedridden for six years, danced in the street until the neighbors wondered if she lost her mind. Then she invited the community into her home. She sat with her neighbors. She smiled, she laughed, she stood, she danced.
Prossy and Andrew are no longer isolated. There is still a lot of work to be done, but they have a way to provide food for themselves and a way to break out of poverty. They have the knowledge and tools to stay jigger free. They have a community that is invested in seeing them succeed.
Thank you for being a part of this journey.
One of my nieces and sister volunteered in Uganda last year and said good things about your organization. I looked at the financials and it seems you’re are building cash. What are your plans for the next few years?
Thanks for asking Walter! I sent you an email with some info on some of our planning for 2018/2019.