Out of 41.6 million inhabitants, the Kenyan government put the figure for those at risk of jigger (Chigoe flea or Tunga Penetrans) infestation at 10 million, and there are currently around 265 reported cases of deaths.
Jiggers are parasites that live in soil and sand, and feed on one’s blood. Infection causes reduced blood circulation in the body, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the brain, leading to mental retardation. Jiggers can be found all over the body but they mostly attack easily accessible parts such as the hands and feet. The affected body parts then become stiff, making it difficult and painful to walk.
Research shows that there is a strong link between jigger infestation and poverty. People who do not keep their homes clean, who do not understand the importance of good hygiene, and who share their living quarters with animals are at a higher risk of being infected by jiggers.
75% of School4Life pupils are orphans or classified as vulnerable. Our pupils come from the poorest homes in the area: this means they don’t have access to clean water and cannot afford to buy soap. Consequently, jiggers are a major problem for our pupils. To combat this, School4Life School has carried out several Anti-Jigger Campaigns. Around 500 children and community members have been successfully treated, and several School4Life teachers underwent jigger treatment training to help prevent further infections. Moreover, to further prevent the spread of jiggers, School4Life brought more than 100 kg of shoes donated by Walder Schuhe and distributed them to children running around barefoot.
Kenya is home to one of the world’s harshest HIV and AIDS epidemics. An estimated 1.6 million people are living with HIV, AIDS has orphaned around 1.1 million children, and in 2011 nearly 62,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.
HIV and AIDS education is an essential part of prevention. Therefore, 20 School4Life students took part in an anti-HIV/AIDS poster competition with other students throughout Kenya. The contest was sponsored by PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) for World AIDS Day. The 5 to 9 year old participants created posters around the theme: “working together for an AIDS-free generation”. Collins Omukata, one of our School4Life students from Class 5, was one of the top 6 finalists, out of 75 posters, for his age group!
Did you know that plastic bags take 10 to 20 years to decompose? Even more, a tin can takes 50 to 100 years, a glass bottle 1 million years, and a plastic bottle will never decompose! The goal of the School4Life Anti-Littering Initiative was to educate and change the attitudes of children and adults by creating awareness in the community. On a hot Sunday afternoon, 280 children, teachers, and School4Life friends joined Kimilili’s first Anti-Littering Initiative to:
– Educate children and adults on how litter is a problem that affects health and living standards in the community
– Promote proper handling of waste in the community
– Take responsibility and set a good example
The participants were beautifully decorated with colorful ribbons, balloons, and face paint. While singing and blowing their vuvuzelas, the kids had a great deal of fun collecting litter while parading along the main street.
While brushing your teeth with toothpaste is arguably the most common method of oral hygiene in developed nations, a large portion of the world’s population cannot afford to buy toothbrushes. Operation Toothbrush supplied orphans and needy kids of our School4Life education center with a toothbrush to help reduce the incidences of cavities and gum inflammation. Toothbrushes are an unaffordable luxury for the majority of our children. For most of them, it was the first time they had ever held a toothbrush in their hands while receiving their first lesson in preventing plaque.
Clean drinking water in cooperation with Aqua Pura
In cooperation with Aqua Pura, 3 water flow systems were installed to provide clean drinking water to our students. This means our 800 students at school, our 30 kids as the Children’s Home and our 30 children at the Special Needs School no longer need to fetch water at the river. Additional tap water was installed, as well, as keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
Community Day Celebration
During the first Community Day Celebration held in December 2012, parents, teachers, students, and friends came together to celebrate the achievements of the year. All children performed songs and poems, and were excited to be on stage for the first time in their lives.
The school grounds were as lively as ever. The head of the Ministry of Education attended the celebration, giving an emotional speech about wanting to close the school two years ago and how he now had one of his own children attending the school. Many local members of the community gave speeches, as well, giving thanks for the school’s progress. The Reverend also provided a few touching words, thanking his wife for her hard work at the school. This was especially meaningful because men traditionally do not recognize the efforts of women outside of the home.
In order to provide a sense of belonging to all members and also to promote the school within the community, everyone in attendance was invited to enjoy a big lunch together.