I will start with an update about the twins that Renee was taking care of. My dad has been asking how that turned out and I don’t have very good answers because I have been so busy I have not been able to get back over there. I do know that they are both still here with us. And, although visually they don’t look a whole lot better, it is obvious that neither one is fighting off death with every breath. It will take many months for them to recover from the state they were in. But hope grows with every day that passes.
Next are some pictures of Alepear and Napongo. They are Karamajong sisters from Messese. They don’t speak any English and only Alepear (the older one) speaks a bit of Lugandan. Well, Napongo was terribly sick and her stomach is extremely distended. Their mother followed Karamajong tradition by making incisions on Napongo’s stomach and rubbing salt in them in hopes of making the swelling going down. Katie talked to her and told her that this technique wouldn’t work. Katie offered to care for Napongo for a bit and return her to her mom in good health.
Most often stomach distention is due to malnutrition and worms. Katie got Napongo on a de-worming pill and started feeding her nutritious meals. Napongo also had some bumps on her torso that were filled with a white thick substance. All the medical professionals that Katie talked to told her that it was a fungal issue. After a week or so with no improvement on either the stomach distension or the bumps she was a bit discouraged. I told her that I would email one of my nursing professors and see if she had any ideas.
I contacted Teree Rittenbach--who I admire a lot. I was confident that if anybody would be able to help it would be her. Although she obviously doesn’t have a ton of experience with African parasites and diseases, she was able to come up with a possible cause. It is called Bilharzia and it is a worm-like parasite that is found in dirty water. The Karamajong use water from Lake Victoria which almost certainly carries the parasite. I also observed that Naponga had other symptoms of Bilharzia, specifically liver/spleen enlargement and her skin condition. Katie put her on the appropriate medication and she has been pooping out Bilharzia worms ever since. Praise God!
I have to include a fun story about the worms in the poop. I was curious as to how Katie discovered that there were worms in it. I asked if she was checking the stools before Napongo flushed. She told me that it was unneccessary because Napongo doesn’t use the toilet. Instead she finds a random corner in the house. Fantastic!
So we are hoping that the situation will continue to improve and I ask that you would join us in prayer for Napongo. Pray that we have diagnosed her condition correctly and that we have identified all of her current medical problems. Pray that she can become a healthy, happy, and active child.
Napongo’s sister Alepear joined her at Katie’s house bring the total number of children up to a whopping sixteen! She joined us because she is the one in charge of taking care of Napongo. Many of the children in the villages surrounding Jinja suffer from another parasite that they call “jiggers”. They are in the dirt on the ground and if you walk around barefoot all the time and seldom wash your feet you are likely to get them. Normally they are not a big deal. While they are somewhat painful and pretty gross they aren’t a huge inconvenience. What happens is that the jigger lays an egg sac in your foot and the eggs eat the flesh of your foot as they grow. If left untreated they get bigger and spread. If you notice you have one you need to get the sac and all the eggs removed. Basically you dig a hole around the egg sac and try and remove it all in one piece. They are about the size of a pea. If the sac is punctured it can be a problem because then the eggs are free and can relocate into your foot. The solution for that is using kerosene (I am told).
After removing several from Napongo’s feet Katie took a look at Alepear’s. She almost couldn’t believe how many she had. As you can see in the photo her feet are in poor shape and it was hard to tell what were live jiggers, dead jiggers, and dead skin. Katie began digging away. The first night she removed six egg sacs before it got dark outside. The power was out so that was it for the night. The next night Alepear had fifteen more removed! It was the worst case any of the locals had ever seen. Imagine twenty pea-sized bloody holes dug out of the bottom of your two small feet with a safety pin. Alepear sat very still as they worked and only a few tears streamed down her 10-year-old cheeks. I held her hand and Katie spoke the few Karamajong words of comfort she knew, “I am sorry” and “Jesus loves you.”