You never know what a week at the Sole Hope compound may bring.
We received a call from new friends north of Jinja, describing that they had a young girl with an unimaginable amount of jiggers in both her hands and feet. She had a horrible past and no one to care for her. That Friday morning in early February, what I expected to be a timid little girl stepped out of the van. Oh, how I was wrong. Within moments of stepping out of the vehicle, she was smiling uncontrollably – from ear to ear. Knowing her past, you would have no idea how someone could still be full of so much JOY.
The JOY in our eyes quickly started to fade as we saw how bad the jiggers in her hands and feet were. Her hands were swollen to a point that she could barely feed herself. Her feet were so infested and infected that you could see the pain she felt with every step. We knew the removal needed to happen sooner than later since the pain and infection would worsen with each passing day. We set up a small space outside the outreach house and gathered the supplies we needed for the removal. That’s when our plan changed entirely. We could hardly touch her hand without loud cries escaping from her lips. We knew that we couldn’t remove all of her jiggers like this. Through a series of failed attempts at different removal techniques, we determined that it would have to be more of a process than just a simple clinic at the outreach house.
The next day included a trip to a private hospital in the area where we could sedate her so the jiggers could all be removed. After an hour and half and four people removing, 300 jiggers were removed from her hands and feet – the most we have ever seen removed from any one person. While the process was painful, she felt instant relief once they were all removed – she left the room with a smile on her face.
Within two days, her open wounds had almost completely healed – it was a miracle. The swelling on her hands had already gone down, and you could see that she was walking with more comfortably. She was soon able to run around - playing soccer and having fun. She loved helping us water our flowers and was always eager to help in any way that she could. She continued to live at the Sole Hope Outreach house while she continued to recover, learn the new habit of wearing her shoes, and was educated on why it was important to do so. The improvement was unbelievable.
(Before and after of her feet)
(Before and after of her hands)
She continued to live on the compound as next steps and more permanent living arrangements were figured out. We loved walking into the compound to the biggest smile and hug - and greater every visitor to the Sole Hope compound with a smile that seemed as though she had known them for years. She brought us JOY each day. Through a connection state-side through our friend Dawn at Funky Fish Designs, Richard from Victors Christian School in Mukono, and a collaboration with Project Hopeful's - HOPE + Sisterhood, Joy was paired with a local Ugandan foster mother! Though it was sad to see her go, we are so thankful that she will have a more permanent home to call her own.
Through the pain and the jiggers, there is still JOY. She lived it out each and every day – she taught us so much about love and living a joyful life. We loved the time that we were able to spend with that sweet girl. We are so thankful that she is living jigger free. We are so thankful that she has a foster mother who is able to care for her and give her a home. Even in the hardest situations, JOY is new each morning.