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  • Writer's pictureDavid Moore

I Just Returned From Marsabit

I just returned from Marsabit. We went there thanks to my church St. James United Methodist Church. Without their support we would not have been able to treat 273 people – mostly children – for jiggers. It is heartbreaking to see how jiggers have eaten away little children’s toes and figures.

We joined Pastor Hirbo and his staff working with them treating jiggers. Just like Nehemiah was called to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, Pastor Hirbo has been called to eliminate jiggers in Marsabit District.  Jiggers are small fleas that burrow into the feet and hands and live as parasites.  They are painful and can literally eat away at fingers and toes causing people to become crippled, unable to sleep, work or go to school.

Click here for Treating Jiggers video:

See also blog on Treating Jiggers:

There are many similarities between Nehemiah and Pastor Hirbo. Both felt burdened to take care of a problem that had existed for many years. Both prayed about it before taking any action. Both had daunting tasks that seemed impossible to accomplish. And, both busied themselves with the work at hand, and allowed no one to distract them. Nehemiah said, “I am busy building the wall and can’t come down.”  Pastor Hirbo is busy treating jiggers and can’t come down.

Pastor Hirbo is implementing a well laid out plan for treating every person in Marsabit who is infected with jiggers. He discovered a safe, painless way to treat the jiggers. Previously, people removed jiggers with a pin or needle, which often caused secondary infections and made the problem much worse.

Pastor Hirbo’s method of treatment involves soaking the infected hands and feet in a strong soap and medicated water.  He then covers the jigger-infected areas with vaseline, smothering the jiggers and causing them to die. We learned this approach from Dr. Craig when he came to Marsabit on a medical team mission. Imagine, since that first child we treated two years ago, thousands have now been successfully treated! God used Dr. Craig in a mighty way and we will always be grateful for the team that came from Michigan to help Pastor Hirbo.

Pastor Hirbo started with Parkishon Village. There were 550 children infected in this village and today no one is infected. Pastor Hirbo and his staff returned week after week until everyone was treated. He taught the moms how to prevent their children from getting infected – wiping the jiggers off the children’s hands and feet before they sleep so the jigger doesn’t burrow into their flesh at night. He taught the moms how to lay a mixture of water and cow dung on the floor of their mayattas (mud huts) forming a barrier that, when fully dried, prevents the jiggers from infesting the house. Patiently, Pastor Hirbo and his team worked to eliminate jiggers in Parkishon. With the help of Cris and Gary Willis, he brought shoes to the children. The lack of shoes is one of the problems for the children. The jiggers get on the feet because they walk bare footed.

Next, he started working in the primary schools (elementary schools). There are 25 primary schools in Marsabit District. At the first school Pastor HIrbo and his staff visited, most of the children were infected. The staff treated over 500 children. Now the school is jigger free. At the next school, almost every child was infected with  jiggers – 670 children. Yesterday we treated 25 children at this school – now it is the second school to be jigger free. And, each school knows how to help the children from becoming infected again.

Pastor Hirbo is working in 13 of the 25 schools right now. He plans to go into all the schools in Marsabit District and in all the villages. He is launching a door-to-door campaign, as many hide because their infections carry a stigma which causes them to feel ashamed.  Pastor Hirbo wants to find them and help them.

Just like Nehimiah did when re-building the wall, Pastor Hirbo has a plan and he is carrying out his plan. I believe someday there will be no more jiggers in Marsabit District. As Charlo, PFC Kenya Communications Director said, “This is a battle that must be won, a battle that can be won.”  It is possible…

Connie Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

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