By Joyce Gathu
If you thought that jiggers were only in Murang’a, you are mistaken. Residents in Isiolo are also struggling to keep the irritating parasites at bay.
Against their wildest dream, Mary-Stella Makesi and Jacinta Wangechi have made it their mission to remove jiggers from those already infected, and prevent others from suffering a similar fate.
In 2008, the two friends were going about their business when their attention was drawn to an old woman on a wheelchair.
“She may have been in her 60’s and this was not the first time we had seen her. She was a common sight in Isiolo town, begging for money,” Makesi remembers.
But on this day, they were shocked to discover that the source of her predicament was jiggers.
“They had infested her entire body, you might find it difficult to imagine but her private parts were infested too, a fact that we discovered once we decided to assist her,” Wangechi explains.
This woman chatted a new path for her and other women, and for five years, they have moved from one homestead to another and at times from one far-flung village to the next.
“When we decided to do a background check on jigger prevalence in this region, we were surprised to realise that even toddlers had not been spared,” Makesi explains.
She explains a situation that greatly moved her: “We found a two-month old baby whose hands and feet had been infested, you can imagine the discomfort because jiggers cause an itch that one can’t ignore.”
The longer the jigger remains in the body, the more the pain. For a two months old baby, it was a nightmare.