Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jiggery June

At the end of May, we welcomed two Liberty University students: Emily and Mary. They are studying nursing and community health and wanted to experience health care in a rural African setting. Timu is an ideal place for that! They will be with us through the end of July and have been working alongside me for the past month. We've been doing clinic Tue/Thur/Sat as normal. Then on Mon/Wed/Fri they go down to the village school and teach lessons. They do both Bible and health lessons, then play games with the kids afterwards. These ladies have been a huge blessing to us already and we're so glad for people like them who are willing to sacrifice their summer to work alongside us in ministering to the Ik. 

As is my way, this blog is a photo journal of our month. 
 The first day that our guests arrived, we went to visit the Janet and Lemu's mom in the hospital. Their half-sister, Akello, had malaria and needed IV treatment.
Just two days after our interns arrived, we learned of a jiggers epidemic. For those who do not know, a jigger is a sand flea that burrows under the skin in the hands and feet. The jigger then becomes bloated and produces eggs under the skin. If untreated, the eggs will fall out and back into the sand, where they will mature into adult sand fleas. When this happens, people become reinfected and the cycle continues. If untreated, jiggers will cause terrible and debilitating wounds. Some folks have even died of septicemia (blood infection) when the limbs become gangrenous after jigger infections leave them with gaping wounds. Last year a number of such people died at Kaabong hospital. That being said, we recognize the need for immediate treatment, education, and prevention of reinfection.
People started showing up at our gate needing help in extracting the jiggers. Most people can see well enough to pull the jiggers out themselves, but we've given special attention to the elderly because their eyesight is failing and they have more difficulty getting the jiggers under control in their homes. Above: Mary spent several hours one morning on this woman. It is a painstaking process to get each jigger sack out. We use a safety pin and tweezers to gently roll the jigger out of the skin.
 On an evening walk to the villages.

 We've been driving and walking to even further villages lately when we hear news of jiggers. We hand out soap for people to wash their feet. Then we give them vaseline (or petroleum-based jelly), which is to be placed over each jigger on the feet. The vaseline is supposed to suffocate the jigger so it won't produce eggs and expel them into the sand. The jiggers still have to be pulled out later, but the number of fleas in the village will go down. Lastly, we hand out safety pins for the pulling of the jiggers and instruct people to throw the jiggers into the fire. So far, so good. It appears that people are hearing the message and treating jiggers appropriately.
Many days we feel like the pied piper as we walk to and fro. 
 A shot of Emily inside an Ik village. After looking at infected feet, I'm surprised she still has something to smile about! And yes, we do try to wear close-toed shoes inside the villages so we don't become infected with jiggers ourselves.
 Besides attending to the clinic and jiggers, the girls have been visiting the local village school to give health and Bible lessons.
 This girl was trying to listen while giving a drink to her thirsty sister.
 On rainy days, they have to move class inside the school. Emily is the nursing student and has lots of opportunity to observe and participate in community health nursing. She is servant-hearted and really smart. She has been adaptable and flexible, doing many new things in a rural ideal candidate for a missionary nurse. I've been so thankful to have her by my side. One thing I miss by working in a remote setting is having colleagues to practice nursing with.
 Mary is a community health student. We decided to do women's meetings at the local Pentecostal church for a few weeks. This past week, Mary shared her testimony and the gospel, then followed with a health lesson on skin care and infectious skin diseases. There were 38 women. They were very receptive and friendly, especially after we offered them cokes and popcorn. The women of Timu don't often get pampered. Mary is gifted at discipling and leading small groups such as these. She was open, honest, and encouraging. She listens to others, has thoughtful responses, and has been able to connect with people...also an ideal candidate for her chosen field.
 What have the little girls been up to? Well, they love having 'big sisters' around. They continue to play with friends during clinic hours and in the evenings. Above they were walking to church with friends. 
 The girls both love to emulate Ik women in the activities of daily life. They're becoming proficient at carrying things on their heads, and preparing food over a fire (below).
 Last week they discovered another relative: their great auntie came for a visit to get her jiggers removed. During the course of the visit, we found out that she was the sister of our girls' paternal grandfather. Their auntie appeared ambivalent at making that connection, however, she was having a lot of pain post-jigger removal.
 I'm still homeschooling the girls with a Sonlight/Abeka curriculum. They are in Kindergarten this year. We started Phonics back in May and the girls have officially started reading little books. They have a long way to go...but it's a start!
Oh, and they dance whenever possible. My grandma Doris made them swishy skirts, which they request to wear often for the swishy effect. 
 Terrill continues with dictionary work...a long and steep road. He's also gotten into photography lately (see photo below). Surprisingly, it's been a therapeutic hobby for him and given him a new view on life. I'm thankful for little things like this that sustain him during difficult seasons of waiting. Below he was handed a baby during a village visit. This one, however, is not named Terrill.
 We are in the middle of rainy season. Back in May when it was dry for a few weeks, Terrill and some friends went to work on the road. They had the foresight to know that the old road would get too muddy to travel once the rains started again. They were right. We can't use the old road to Timu right now and are so thankful for the new road.
 This is the muddy old road where many vehicles get stuck in the mud.
 And then we had a huge hail storm last Friday afternoon. It was the worst storm we'd ever seen in Timu. 24 hours later and hail was still on the ground from the previous day. Sadly, the hail destroyed many crops that were about to flower and produce food for the people. Now people are crying for food relief. They can replant their gardens, but they won't see a harvest until October/November, which is still so far off. We are hoping someone will step in and offer some relief for this natural disaster.
 What did we do when it stormed? We made pesto pizza and watched a movie. Life in Timu is not all hardship.
 And when the clouds cleared away, our Timu sky was again filled with wonder. Even though we feel so far away from home and loved ones right now, the God of all creation is still right there beside us.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Caterpillar world

It's funny how so many details of the world around us escape our notice...unless we have a reason to focus our attention on them. This year, since trying to get into photography a bit more, I've noticed many of the small creatures that live and move around us in Ikland. For example, we have seen so many types of caterpillars in the last couple of months. We've lived in Ikland for almost six years, but I don't recall seeing most of these worms before. Now that I have a camera, their presence calls out to me to be noticed. This is a neat reminder of all the small animals God has made, each with their own life and death dramas, that we usually completely overlook.

But now, through the eye of my lens, I am seeing the world of Ikland anew.

In this post I want to introduce you to a few of the specimens we have observed around our place:

First, this bright green slug with four horns and a sharp beak:
Second, this multi-colored worm with a little orange mark on its back:
 Third, this furry guy with poisonous hairs it raised when I got close to it:
 Fourth, this bizarre unicorn slug with a single blue antenna:
 Fifth, this huge (4-5 in.) caterpillar with sharp spines and a voracious appetite:
 Sixth, this fuzzy white fellow hanging off a blade of grass over the trail:
Seventh, this worm with a cool spiky hairdo:
 Lastly, here we have some kind of stand-off between a beetle and a caterpillar:

Perhaps we should now be on the lookout for the beautiful butterflies and moths these caterpillars are soon to be become!