When we introduced the xo laptop we were not prepared to the numerous challenges that we would face. The first thing was to convince the school headmaster that the xo laptop was not a toy but a tool equipped with various educational activities tailored for school going pupil.
The pupils found it very interesting. The just loved the xo. Soon everybody wanted to touch it. We had a training organized by OLPC group and Sandra. Fred Juma came over and he was so impressed by what he saw.
The more we have continued to interact with the xo, the more we have come face to face with the realities facing the rural African child. From hunger to long distances to school and now this! Jiggers.
In a small remote village of Eshibinga, our xo laptops tiny cameras came face to face with the jigger menace. We nearly downed our tools of trade as we encountered the grim situations that surround the jigger victims of this rural western Kenya village.. Here, children can barely walk as their feet are badly infected by jiggers.
Our worst fears were confirmed. We came across shocking and unbelievable levels of jigger infestation. The locals appeared oblivious to the pain and suffering they encountered on a daily basis, going about their daily chores regardless of our distress and sympathy. The only thing that bothers them, we learn, is the ridicule and the stigmatization they face from un-infected villagers.
“It is like being infected with HIV,” said Ruth Okonji, a poor single mother. She and her four children are all infected by jiggers. They live in a grass thatched mud house barely able to accommodate all of them, lacking basic amenities such as water. They cannot wash their bodies, thus attracting jiggers. Master Otundo’s family has been intensely attacked by jiggers. When we visited his parents house, we were greeted by a foul smell. Like many others, this family of six who live in dire poverty and Otundo admits that they have not bathed for many months for lack of water.
“We have had to succumb to jiggers – they are part of our family,” he lamented.
That is when we turned our attention from just learning about xo laptops, to how we can use the xo laptops to tell the story of our lives. The story of jiggers.