17 February 2014

Meeting the desire of Jesus: offering mercy when we encounter the poor and needy - - Part Two

Jomba's hands and feet are badly infested with Jiggers. [Note: This story goes with the post above.]

I met Jomba last week. He's the fellow whose hands and feet are pictured here. The word 'jomba' means 'uncle' in Swahili. Kenyans often refer to men by the generic word, 'uncle'. Jomba's actual name is Musa (Swahili for Moses).

I had just gotten out of a taxi, after offering to walk the remaining distance to Agnes' house. The driver worried he was getting low on fuel. A few minutes later, I came upon Jomba as he entered the road from some trees. I noticed he walked with difficulty and assumed he might be an elderly man.

My pace was a bit quicker than his and when I caught up with him, we greeted one another. I was surprised to see that he was, in fact, relatively young. At the time, I didn't know his name and I hadn't noticed him in the neighborhood before. He seemed to be a gentle and unpretentious fellow, a bit in need of a haircut and shave. I liked his smile.

As we maneuvered around this small body of water, a fellow named Peter came up to us. He'd been working in his 'shamba' and wanted to alert me to the condition of Jomba's feet and hands. He explained to me about Jiggers* and the seriousness of the condition. 

I came to learn that Peter is an ambitious young man; he does a little farming so he can earn money for his college education. He had come to know Jomba recently and had given him a small room to sleep in; prior to that Jomba was exposed to rain and cold night temperatures. Peter had been trying to get a community initiative going to assist Jomba, but none of the other villagers were interested. 

Sadly there is much ignorance about medical issues. Some people believe that people with jiggers have been cursed and so they stay as far away from them as possible. Others believe the condition is contagious and refuse to shake hands with the victims or touch them in any manner.

When a rain storm arrived suddenly out of a blue sky, Peter, Jomba, and I joined three other people (including the woman below) who had already sought shelter in a small mud structure. They were all strangers to me, but by the time the rain stopped, I had become friends with two of them - Peter and Jomba. 

When the rain eventually stopped, we said 'good-bye' to Jomba and Peter joined me in reaching Agnes' house. Although they had seen each other now and then, Peter and Agnes were also strangers to each other. When we mentioned Jomba, she said she knows him very well and had been trying to help him - with a little work around her farm and an occasional meal.

Agnes now joined us in the conversation Peter and I had started. Together, we decided on a course of action to help this young man.

Another beautiful foggy morning at Agnes' farm, in the River Nzoia valley

The following day as Agnes and I walked to the house of our mutual friend, Mary Alu, we sought out Jomba. Agnes requested a lady to find him for us. After waiting a few minutes, Jomba humbly walked over to us from where he was tending the lady's cattle. I smiled at him and shook his hand. Agnes told him we wanted to help him. As we parted company, he said 'good-bye' with a smile on his face.

Edgar, Anaya, and Mary Alu with Agnes after we had lunch with them

After a nice visit with the Alu family, Agnes and I hopped on a 'boda boda' (motorbike taxi) and headed to the market at Kona Mbaya. I purchased the necessary medicine plus hydrogen peroxide and a bar of disinfectant soap. I also got a pair of 'slippers' (flip-flops) for Jomba to wear and a basin with which to bathe. Lastly, I got an antiseptic spray to be used in and around the small room where he sleeps. I also left one of my shirts with Agnes to give to Jomba.

Peter promised to make some simple improvements on Jomba's room, including spray the anticeptic. He will also buy him another pair of trousers and a blanket. Agnes' role is to administer the medicine and have a simple bed frame built for Jomba. Currently, he sleeps directly on the mud floor. When he comes for doses of medicine, she'll also give him a meal. Edgar informed us there's a community health group that can visit Jomba and assist him further.

- - - - -

This encounter is a vivid example of what the life of Jesus exemplified. As he met people, he stopped and looked at them. Jesus spoke to them and he touched them. He gave them the time and concern they needed and he healed them. 

Jesus demonstrated mercy to everyone he encountered.

I do not believe it was mere happenstance that Jomba and I met on the road. Nor do I believe it was coincidence that Peter was right there to bring us all together. 

Please join me in praying for Jomba's complete healing. 

I haven't shared this story in order to receive any accolades. Rather, I've shared it to spur you on to also follow the example of Jesus. Allow me to challenge you to also extend mercy to those you meet along the way.

By doing so, you will meet a need of Jesus himself!

Wow, what a thought!

Perhaps you can leave a comment sharing a recent example of offering mercy to the poor and needy in your own neighborhood and life.

- - - - - -

* Jiggers
A female flea burrows head-first into the host's skin feeding on blood vessels. They remain there for a period of two weeks while developing eggs and swelling greatly in size. If the flea is left within the skin, dangerous complications can occur including secondary infections, loss of nails, and toe deformation. These are relatively rare, but heavy infestations combined with unsanitary conditions greatly increases the likelihood of complications.

Many villages in Kenya have been completely infested with them, and mass infections have rendered people unable to walk. In more serious cases, people can die from jiggers.

More information can be found at -


Anonymous said...

Dear Deb,
You are wonderful, interruptible and available. It's an honor to be your friend. I have been missing your blogs. It was good to hear from you. I would love to support you so that you could help the needy, but I have 3 full time missionaries in my own family. I love you. Peggy Grayu

larry in cincy said...

deb its good to hear from you again. this is larry from cincinnati and abrahams blessings. we help support a mobile clinic in kakamega and we will do jigger clinics in the bush. buy the way i'll be back in kakamega about march 21 thru april 3rd. maybe you can come over to the west side of kenya for a few days. we will be at waweza movement orphanage. we have 5 people there now and 7 more are coming. we have nurses also and they got to deliver some babies at the kakamega hospital. you can look up wawezamovement.org or on facebook megan lewin she is bill murphy's girl who started the orphanage. you met bill in 2001 and 2009 ,megan was with us both times but she went home before we saw you. she is staying this time till may. well GOD BLESS you and i'll get in touch with you before i get there. byyyyyyyyyyy larry

Dawn said...

Deb, check out Wajimida Jigger Campaign on facebook. They (and we) use a mix of 1/4 neem oil with 3/4 coconut oil. Treat 3 times only (every second day, just a little oil on washed and dried skin) and the jiggers will be gone without cutting or digging and the feet and hands on their way to healing. To treat jiggers in the yard, just soak one bucket of crushed neem leaves in water for 3 days, and splash liberally around yard. Repeat as necessary. Very cheap. Very effective. My ladies' groups and teen girls are treating their families and neighbours. Wild Living sells neem oil.

deb said...

Peggy, I love that phrase - ' interruptible and available'! Great to hear from you. Thanks for taking a look at my blog.

deb said...

Larry, long time! It's possible I'll be in the Kakamega area around those dates.

deb said...

Dawn, thanks for the information and the FB page! Excellent work you're doing!