Bittersweet Lessons We Learn From Watching Others Suffer

Yesterday, we spent the day with children and adults at the Outreach Clinic that had their jiggers removed last Thursday and were healing both physically, emotionally, and gaining education on jiggers. Soon, they will be resettled back in their villages. I’ve been anticipating for months watching Sole Hope in action and also gaining education.

“What are jiggers?” In the United States we have chiggers. A jigger is NOT a chigger.

Here’s the difference…

  • In Uganda, these jigger wounds are painful, and cause difficulties for victims in daily activities such as walking, playing, and attending school.  The infection can lead to severe inflammation, ulceration and fibrosis. It can also cause lymphangitis, gangrene, sepsis, and the loss of toenails, amputation of the digits, and death may also occur.
  • There is also a social stigma and shame associated with the victims of jiggers which causes them to hide the problem which makes it worse.
  • While jiggers in small numbers are not deadly, the secondary infections (gangrene, tetanus and other diseases) caused by jiggers can be fatal. (Sole Hope)

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Today I witnessed something I’ve never seen before. I hope you will walk with me through this emotional day.

Awake my soul to live this moment.

We arrived at the clinic at 9am and the staff had everything set up to remove jiggers. These were the new patients that arrived yesterday. I was really anxious. I was completely out of my comfort zone. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen, what they would want me to do, and how would I respond watching the removal process. I can’t imagine what the patients were feeling.

It was heartrending to witness. The younger children, like 6-year-old Brian, who had 15 jiggers removed, were crying in hysterics. We were crying, too. It can be excruciatingly painful having a parasite removed with a sharp razor and safety-pin. This is the best way to remove the jiggers and eggs.

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I watched brave young boys, a toddler, and two elderly men in their seventies have their jiggers removed one by one. There can be hundreds of parasites in their feet, hands, and covering their bodies. (Some of the images are extremely graphic. This is real.)

Jigger removal is very painful….but then, there is HOPE.

At first, I felt completely helpless and kept my distance waiting to see how I would respond. They were all being brave, and I also wanted to be brave. As the removal started, I started praying for God’s Presence to cover them with comfort and for Him to remove any pain. As a team, we were there to simply love and offer comfort and support and care, but it was bittersweet.

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My friend, Jamie Ivey, who is part of the storyteller team, just shared with me that they had to endure the pain to get to the other side of healing. In order to receive the freedom from pain, they couldn’t avoid the pain of jigger removal. What an example of courage.

Immediately after the process was over (almost 90 minuets) we watched the children and adult’s great suffering transformed into PURE joy! They were smiling, relieved and very grateful. We cheered when they each received a brand new pair of shoes. Today they came to Sole Hope with hope for a better life, to be free of the devastating effects of jiggers.

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(Photo credits: Gary S. Chapman)

I recorded a short video toward the end of the removal, so you could have a hands-on look. (this will not be graphic) I’m still processing my thoughts and feelings, and honestly don’t have the right words to express what I witnessed today. This much I know…Sole Hope cares. Deeply cares. Bittersweet lessons we learn from watching others suffer.

My prayer today is that we can be a voice for the hopeless and help others suffering find their way to hope.

Please watch the video + share. #solestories

Follow all of the storytellers on this trip:

2 Comments

  • 1
    Wynne says:

    they had to endure the pain to get to the other side of healing. In order to receive the freedom from pain, they couldn’t avoid the pain of jigger removal.

    THIS! YES! i remember a day last year like this well. bittersweet as you said, but such a picture of full healing and courage like you said. keep on sister!

    • 1.1
      Kari Gibson says:

      Wynne, we’ve been on the other side of the world together!! It was one of the hardest days of my life… it’s never easy seeing people hurting. I hope to return to Sole Hope again & again!! Wait till you see the new land that will grow the ministry to a new level! WOW!! Love you sister!

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