We had a busy week on the Health project in Shimoni last week: from really interesting meetings with the Aga Khan Foundation and the Minister of Health, to training workshops on ante natal-care for women living with HIV/AIDS. It’s becoming apparent how lucky we are to be working with the Community Unit here. Each volunteer community health worker is in charge of 20 households in all health care matters and they definitely do not take their responsibilities lightly. Rain or heatstroke weather, with no bike or transport, they are trekking down the 11km dirt road in the Shimoni Sub Location to reach their constituents and deliver countless outreaches to many villages in the area.
Last Friday we joined the community health workers on a Jigger Jousting outreach in Mwazaro. For those of you who are unaware, as I was just very recently, Jiggers are parasitic creatures that live in the sand all over the continent, especially in coastal regions with mangrove trees. If people are not careful and walk around barefoot they are likely to find new Jigger families living off their blood and spreading infection. Mwazaro had a large infestation so Safe Shimoni, an active voluntary group of health workers, rushed out to spread awareness on jigger prevention and treatment.
|Kopa, Jordan and Matata gloved up and ready to tackle the jigger infestation.|
We woke up early on the Friday and jumped in the Shrew (our trusty van). With our community officer Sophie driving, we were on the way to Mwazaro with many stops to get the rest of Safe Shimoni on the way. We got to the school in Mwazaro and were warmly greeted by the head mistress and the teachers.
Stepping into the classroom was overwhelming as there were over 130 students in a classroom that I would not believe would have fit even 60. Some little ones smiling, others curious, and some downright scared. I didn’t know what to expect, I thought Hamisi and Binny (member and treasurer of Safe Shimoni) would give a speech and some demonstrations but soon saw how wrong I was.
|Matata scrubs one of the 150 pairs of feet with disinfectant and antibacterial soap.|
The aim was to find all the children with jiggers which were easily over 85% of the students in the class and scrub them clean with Dettol and then suffocate the jiggers with Vaseline. They didn’t waste any time with small talk, they threw a pair of gloves at each of us and started filling buckets with water and Dettol. Jordan, Kopa, and I were given Vaseline and they started their work outside. Not sure what to do, I waited for my turn. Instead Hamisi brought me back inside to be on washing duty. I saw Sophie scrubbing away without a hesitation and followed her lead.
|Jordan applies Vaseline to the disinfected feet to suffocate any remaining jiggers.|
The kids didn’t even flinch even though it seemed to be excruciating. They were so brave and not one kid really showed any signs of pain. The outreach went really well and we learned a lot about the jigger infestations around and so did they. I can’t wait for the follow up outreach. This is an example of the work we do on the health project, our ultimate goal being to improve public health for all residents in the Shimoni Sub Location.
Matata Diomande – Health Project Field Staff