Everybody Loves Raymond
Project Uganda 2013, June 6th - Village of Kidusu:
While not the same Raymond as the TV show, you can't help but love this little boy! Raymond was found in the crowd at our medical clinic in Kidusu by one of our team members. He had one of the worst cases of "jiggers" I have ever seen! The chigoe flea or jigger (Tunga penetrans) is a parasitic arthropod and is NOT what we southerners call chiggers. Breeding female chigoes burrow into exposed skin, usually on the feet, and remain there for two weeks while developing eggs, during which time they swell dramatically, sometimes causing intense irritation (condition called tungiasis). After this point, the skin lesion looks like a 5 to 10 mm blister with a central black dot, which are the flea's exposed hind legs, respiratory spiracles and reproductive organs. Heavy infestations may lead to severe inflammation, ulceration, and fibrosis. Lymphangitis, gangrene, sepsis, the loss of toenails, autoamputation of the appendages, and death may also occur. If you think the description sounds bad, you may want to forego looking at the pictures, which will follow! The sad reality of jigger infestation is it could be avoided with basic hygiene and shoes! Raymond was not wearing shoes when we found him, and dirty doesn't even begin to describe the condition of his feet.
As I said, Raymond was discovered by one of our team members, Wade, who recognized the severity of the boys condition. Wanting to bypass our medical clinic protocol of waiting in line to see the doctor, Wade took me outside to see the boy and confirm the need for immediate treatment. We soon located the boy and also encountered an angry mob of villagers. At first I thought they were angry because we were allowing him to break in line, but that was not it at all! They were angry at the woman who cared for the boy, because the other children in the family were relatively clean and well taken care. They couldn't understand why this child was so infested and seemingly neglected. Someone had sent for the woman, and as she approached us the crowd began yelling and screaming at her. While I had taken the boy inside to begin treatment, Wade and other members of the team seized a teaching opportunity.
When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, His response to the crowd was "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7). One by one the crowd began to drop their stones and walk away. Jesus then asked the woman, "Has no one condemned you?" . . . "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8:10-11) Our team tried to teach the crowd that rather than condemning the woman, they should show her the same mercy and compassion that Jesus shows to each of us. While we understood they were appalled by her lack of concern for the boy, we suggested that by showing her love they could encourage her to take better care of the boy. As the James 2:13 says, mercy always triumphs over judgment; and love covers all sins (Prov. 10:12). The crowd soon calmed down and the woman was brought inside to wait for Raymond to be treated.
We discovered that the woman caring for Raymond was not actually his mother, but the wife of his uncle. His mother had basically abandoned him and was living in Kampala. Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence in Jinja. We frequently encounter people raising children not their own, and this explains the discrepancy of treatment between Raymond and the other children. Yet another reason why the village should pull together to encourage this woman to take reasonable care of all the children God has entrusted to her. As you read this post and as the Lord reminds you, please pray for Raymond and his family!
Treatment for jiggers requires that the parasite be extracted. The pictures below this post will show the infestation and the removal process, which took two days. (Please be advised the pictures are graphic) At the end of our first day, we told the aunt that treatment would need to continue the next day and that she should bring Raymond back first thing in the morning. I bandaged his feet and placed a new pair of shoes on his feet - the smile on his face was priceless! He was sent home with antibiotics to clear the infection, soap, gauze and antibiotic cream. We also gave his aunt the pesticide needed to treat his sleeping area and instructed her on its proper use. As we left for the day, I wondered if we would see him again!
When we arrived the next morning, Raymond and his aunt were there! I was beyond excited that he had returned and began work to continue the extraction process as soon as we set up the clinic. We gave him
peanut butter crackers, protein bars and bottled water with Hawaiian punch drink mix, along with a mega dose of ibuprofen to prepare him for the long, painful ordeal. I worked for several hours and seemed to be making little progress. Every so often Raymond would put his hand on mine, indicating the pain was unbearable and I needed to stop for a few minutes. I would stop and pray for him, but I knew we had to continue in order to save his feet and possibly his life.
This process reminded me of how our lives can become infested with sin without us even realizing what is happening. Much like the tiny chigoe flea burrowed into the flesh of this young boys feet, sin burrows deep into our hearts often from one tiny moment of indiscretion or one bad choice. Satan convinces us there is nothing wrong with a little sin and one thing leads to another. Before we know it, our hearts are callused and repugnant, not only to those around us, but most of all to our Creator. Our life is infested; our flesh is decaying; our only hope is for God to perform the painful extraction process. Times of discipline are painful, but I am so thankful God doesn’t give up no matter how many times I ask Him to stop. He lovingly continues until I willingly turn from my sin! "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
I continued working on Raymond, while the rest of the team worked diligently on other patients. As time was approaching 1:00 pm and we were preparing to break for lunch the unthinkable happened! My next post will try to describe what felt like being part of a trauma center reality show.
Click on pictures to enlarge
Founder and President of Go Ministries, Inc.
Co-Founder and Secretary/Treasurer of Go Ministries, Inc