Today we visited a third village on our quest to aid "jigger" victims.  I looked up chigger v. jigger on the internet, because I had assumed it was just a difference in pronunciation.  But it wasn't, and "jiggers" are far worse than chiggers.  They live mostly in tropical areas, and the damage they do is incredibly destructive. They are actually a flea.  And a very naughty one.

But today, our victims were mostly children with ringworm.  Horrible cases where the entire head was one big scab.  One little girl, about 5, had probably a dozen large bumps all over her head, that had swollen and scabbed.  I try really hard not to look surprised as each one walks up, but this little girl got to me.  After medicating her scalp, she calmly lifted her skirt to show me each leg, and where a spot needed the ointment.  She wasn't embarrassed or timid.  In fact, there was a maturity about her that contrasted with her age.  She was wise beyond her years, probably because what she has lived and seen have caused her to grow up way too quickly.

We had all the children wash their feet in the basins with jigger antiseptic, and then over to the ringworm station.  We are getting more organized with each visit.  On the first visit, the people were overwhelming and chaotic, everyone crowding in for treatment, and pushing their children towards someone with ringworm ointment.  But, today, we actually washed their feet, sent them to have their scalp treated, and sat them down to await de-worming pills.

But that was where the problem began.  We would only hand out de-worming pills to mothers.  And there were so many children there without parents.  Unfortunately, the pharmacist ordered the wrong pills, and they were to be administered over three days, each person having one in the morning and one and night.  Nightmare!  I wrote on each little pill packet how many to take each day, twice a day for 3 days.  So, six pills per person.  One mother had 11 children.  The pills were small, and between Coney and I pouring them out in a lid and trying to count out 66 pills, it was almost humorous.  And after working for at least 45 minutes, we could see that the line had lengthened and not shortened.  We were pretty sure they thought they were candy, and wanted more. 
So, we ran out, and sadly there were many who didn't get the pills.  As we promised to return next week with more, for a moment I thought it might get a bit out of hand, since some of the fathers were talking really loud.  But Bobba John again quieted everyone down and we packed up and left.  We had handed out maize flour at the first two villages, and someone asked where the food was being given, so obviously word travels, and we had outsiders coming.  Next week, we will have more supplies with us in hopes of helping everyone.

I think I might purchase a few small pillows for the children with heavy-duty ringworm.  Something clean they can use in an effort to deal with re-infection.  We hand out tubes of ointment to the mothers that bring children with bad cases.  But the little girl that I worked on was there without her parents.

So, we will try again next week.  We are going to attempt working with five villages, over and over, in an effort to make some headway.  Once a village has reached a point where they can take care of each other with the medicines we provide to a health care worker, we can move on to a new one.

It's never dull over here, and each day has new opportunities.  What a way to live!

Kwaheri,
Lani