Saving Mothers and Children From a Tiny Pest in Kenya

by The Salvation Army in Canada

Like many children in rural Kenya, Samuel* recalls the suffering he endured from jigger fleas. The fleas would dig into his feet, causing swelling, itching, and dozens of gruesome, infected sores that made it almost unbearable to walk. But nearly as bad were the emotional wounds he experienced.


“I almost dropped out of primary school because I could not stand the way my classmates laughed and harassed me,” Samuel recalls. “They would step on me, and I didn’t have shoes.”


Today, nearly 1.4 million Kenyans suffer from jigger fleas—mostly children between the ages of 5 and 14. Each child can be infected from hundreds of the parasites on their hands and feet. Many cannot run, play, or concentrate in class because of the pain.


The Salvation Army in Canada and Health Partners International of Canada are providing medicine, medical supplies, and many other critical resources to a three-year Integrated Mother and Child Health Project to help mitigate the effects of jigger fleas and other health challenges. With the new medical supplies, the project has already treated 500 children and 90 seniors for jigger flea infections.


“Through the Integrated Mother and Child Health project, we have learned a lot,” says Fred Kiboi, a community health volunteer at the project. “We want to thank The Salvation Army for reaching out to our rural community and helping to save the lives of vulnerable mothers and children.”


* Name has been changed.