This morning we spent some time witnessing the war against jiggers, a scourge of poor Africans.
Jiggers are the world’s smallest flea, and they live in the dusty African soil. Breeding female jiggers love to burrow into the bottoms of people’s feet while developing their eggs, during which time they feed from their host’s bloodstream and swell dramatically, sometimes causing a lot of irritation. When you don’t have shoes, like most children in rural Kenya, and when the dirt floors of your house and school are jigger infested, your chance of becoming a jigger host is high.
Patti Samuels, who directs our Critical Medical Needs Fund, as well as myself and HF staff member Dan Steward, observed a jigger eradication at a rural primary school this morning. 80 of the most-infested children were chosen for jigger removal, performed by a man who was very skilled in the use of a scalpel. Burrowed jiggers apparently numb the surrounding flesh, because the children were given no anesthetic, and few of them shed tears as jiggers were surgically dug from the bottoms of their feet.
If you are squeamish, you might not want to view my photos below, as they show the reality of jigger infestation in children’s feet and the removal of dead and living jiggers. Heaven’s Family has funded jigger eradication projects in the past, and Patti and I observed this morning in order to evaluate the ministry doing today’s eradication which is seeking our funding.