... if the little ones down the road are dry. And if they're warm enough. I often wonder about many of my neighbors when it's cold and wet, whether mud huts with straw roofs keep them dry. I know it doesn't. Not always.
I spent more than three hours at their home today with Ruth, Mary and Joyce, a lady from a team that's currently here. Joyce played nurse, passing paper towels, forceps, cuticle cutters between the three of us who were digging out jigger eggs. Great news: I believe little Kiprono (Richard) is now jigger free. Mary and Ruth did a wonderful job in ridding him of all the parasites. The worst infection was in his one little finger. There were two large eggs lodged in the tip of his left little finger. It took a while - and a lot of tears - to get them out! Once they were out, there was a crater in his finger as deep as one third of his entire pinkie tip! Wow, wow, wow. Can you imagine the pain in digging those out? (I didn't take my camera with me today, so no pictures.)
I worked mostly on my friend Brian Kiprop, removing both live eggs and dead egg sacs. Probably the most painful ones were on the softest part of the soles of his feet... He knew it would hurt, but when he saw us coming and set up our little "outdoor clinic," if you will, he immediately sat down, took off his socks and shoes, and came over! Halfway through removing a really painful one, I stopped and told him how sorry I was to hurt him. He looked at me with his big, sad eyes, and gave me a huge hug!
Same with Nancy Jepkemboi. She was about to cry when I dug out two sacs from the mess on her ankle when suddenly she reached out her skinny arms and gave me the tightest hug I've ever gotten from her.
These kids understand well that though we're hurting them, it's for their benefit!
One of the cutest moments today was when Brian saw his hands (and later his feet) after they had been soaked in hot, antiseptic solution. Keep in mind that these kids have never taken a real bath. When we bathe them, it's a sponge bath, so they're not used to seeing their fingers or toes turn funny from soaking too long. He giggled when he saw his wrinkly fingers! And later, while his toes were soaking, he kept taking them out of the water and laughing.
Soaking the hard skin made it easier to remove the dead egg sacs. What happens is that when the fleas hatch, the 100 or so new fleas leave your body and go and live in the grass or the mud in the house until they mate, at which time the female looks for a warm host where she can bury herself and let her eggs grow. That's kamikaze parenting! She dies in the process, but the egg grows, and the vicious cycle continues. After the egg has hatched, the body tries to reject the empty sac, but if it's embedded too deep under the skin, it just stays there until you dig it out. Digging out empty sacs are far easier than the live ones.
I found one flea on the inside of my foot this afternoon. It had already dug its way in under my skin, but the eggs hadn't yet developed. I dug it out and killed it immediately! Laura also found one on herself, as did Oleysa (our one intern) and Ruth... It's a wonder we've only found so few.
ENOUGH about chigoe fleas!
I spent some time visiting with the Rotich boys tonight. Wanted to check on Hillary. He has malaria and isn't doing very well. Like always, the boys had a million questions.
Can penguins eat humans? (We watched Happy Feet on Saturday...)
What kinds of penguins are there?
What kind of penguin was Lovelace (a character in the movie)?
Can you keep a penguin as a pet?
Does Flannel sleep with me?
And so on and so forth. Those boys have the most inquisitive minds!
It's 10:30. It's still raining. It sounds like a rain that may last for much of the night.
I'm praying that the kids are dry. Tomorrow I want to go and talk to their neighbor. She farms with chickens and has about 600 chickens, many of them for eggs. I want to ask her if she'd be willing to donate at least 1 egg per person per week for the family... I believe she will!
To close, a note on Flannel. She goes nuts in the evenings, running around like crazy, chasing her stuffed mouse around, or whatever else she may lay her little paws on. But the moment I turn off the lights in the house, she calms down. So I've learned to come and write in my bed with the lights off. If I have a movie (or a video podcast) playing on my screen while working, she would stare at the computer until it's turned off. But she actually enjoys movies more than podcasts, I've discovered. Especially animated ones. Seriously! She'll actually go and lay down on the keyboard at times to get as close as she can to the movie!
But right now, it's time for both of us to sleep. I'm tired!
Lala salama. Sleep peacefully.