DEVASTATING INFESTATION

Gatundu widow pleads for help as jiggers ravage family

Two sons are already out of school because of excruciating pain.

In Summary

• The family of seven can no longer put up with the devastating invasion by the bloodsuckers.

• It has been four years of living in hell. 

A jigger-infested hand of one of the children in Gatei village, Gatundu North.
HAVOC: A jigger-infested hand of one of the children in Gatei village, Gatundu North.
Image: John Kamau
Jigger-infested legs of children from a family in Gatei village, Gatundu North.
HAVOC: Jigger-infested legs of children from a family in Gatei village, Gatundu North.
Image: John Kamau

A widow in Gatei village, Gatundu North, has appealed for help to tackle severe jigger infestation that is ruining her family.

Already, two children are out of school because of excruciating pain. They can only hobble around the house and barely sleep at night.

The family of seven can no longer put up with the devastating invasion by the bloodsuckers. It has been four years of living in hell. The situation has been aggravated by the sorry state of the shack they call home.

Jane Muthoni, now the head of the family after her husband died in 2015, said they have occasionally survived on the support of well-wishers to get food and clothes.

Muthoni is a casual labourer. At times she fails to put food on the table as she’s equally affected by the parasites. She has tried all sorts of treatment, including literally trying to gouge out the bloodsuckers. Her efforts have borne no fruit.

The mother says they will appreciate any support, however little, towards ending their agony. 

“Sometimes we go without food if I fail to get a job. Sometimes I lack a job because employers feel I might not be able to work properly because I am too affected by the jiggers,” she said amid sobs.

“I’ve given up. Only God can save us from this menace. Two of my children have dropped out of school because they cannot walk properly. The jiggers have heavily affected their feet, fingers and even elbows. All they can do is scrawl.”

The jigger fleas have burrowed so deep that their feet, fingers and elbows are full of disturbing wounds. Only thorough disinfection and care would help.

Muthoni said her husband had been the family’s sole breadwinner and his death condemned them to untold suffering. She has had to bear the burden of raising her six children alone. They are aged between two and 20 years.

“We have suffered a lot. The jiggers have ravaged us mercilessly. It’s like a curse because no treatment has finished them,” she said, noting that in the whole village, only her family is affected by the parasites.

Muthoni pleaded with well-wishers and local leaders, particularly including MP Wanjiku Kibe, to help the family get treatment and get rid of the problem.

Her neighbours said they have tried to assist, including building another house for the family with the hope of eradicating the jiggers. All this has been to no avail.

“We plead with well-wishers, including Ahadi Kenya Trust who have been leading in eradicating jiggers in the country, to intervene and help the family. The children’s health is deteriorating and their future is at stake if they fail to get urgent help,” Moses Ngugi said.

Similar sentiments were shared by Lucy Njeri, who said the family needs more help besides food, clothing and treatment.

“The mother also needs to be put on family planning because it seems there are some rogue men who are taking advantage of her situation in terms of poverty and illiteracy,” she said.

(Edited by F'Orieny)