The Story of Jiggers

After treatment
After treatment

We had heard, before we set out for Uganda, that the 60 children in the school had jiggers in their feet. Jiggers are tiny fleas that feed on blood. The male takes his feed and moves on, but the female bores into the skin and continues feeding while laying thousands of eggs, which drop back to the soil for further infestation. The infected foot (or other part in contact with the ground) can become very itchy or sore, and as it is an open wound can easily pick up serious infection.

Happy Feet!
Happy Feet!

We brought a doctor to the village, and washed, treated and disinfected the infected feet under the shade of a large tree. After each child was treated they went over to the classroom, where they were given new clothes, from donated items we had brought out with us, and shoes (crocks) that we had bought in Masaka town. They also got a jar of Vaseline, which can be spread on the foot to block the entry of the jigger. While the mothers were helping with washing and disinfecting the doctor was explaining to them the importance of regularly washing the children’s feet and removing any jiggers found.

"Children" checking their jiggers
“Children” checking their jiggers

But the story ¬†doesn’t end there … On our last day in Bbaale, the women sang and danced for us, and then performed a little play that they’d put together. It was an enactment of the jiggers treatment, with two of the women hobbling around with sore feet, and another being the father, berating the mother for not looking after the children properly. After the operation, the “children” went over to the ¬†classroom, and returned having changed their clothes and wearing shoes. Lesson emphasised!