Sole Hope offers hope, healthier lives, and freedom from foot-related diseases through education, jobs, and medical relief. One of the organization’s primary focuses is to help children and adults become and remain jigger free.
What are jiggers?
Jiggers are sand fleas that burrow into hands and feet. Once embedded, the female jigger lays eggs and creates egg sacks up to the size of a pea and continues to multiply by laying more eggs. Found in sub-Saharan climates, these parasitic insects lie relatively undetected on the dirt floors of homes and schools in Uganda. Children in Uganda are particularly vulnerable as they often play barefoot in the dirt.
The wounds can become so irritating and excruciating that normal childhood activities—such as walking, running, playing, and even attending school—can be significantly limited.
Small Pests, Big Health Problems
Preventing the risks associated with jiggers is as simple as wearing shoes, and the initial infestation is treatable by removing the jigger from the foot. However, when jiggers are left unattended and allowed to fester, they can become a serious problem. As jiggers lay eggs and quickly multiply, swelling and inflammation occurs, destroying the soft tissue and creating wounds prone to infection and serious diseases, including gangrene and tetanus. Such diseases can result in amputation, permanent deformity, and even death.
Stigma and Shame
Unfortunately, a social stigma associated with jiggers often keeps people from seeking immediate, necessary help. Infected individuals may be teased, taunted, or bullied. In some cases, they are even locked in their homes because of a belief that the infection is a result of witchcraft or evil spirits. This sad reality can ostracize people from their families and communities at the very time they most need compassionate care, leaving them feeling hopeless and helpless.
Hope for the sole and soul
Enter Sole Hope. What started as an effort to remove jiggers has evolved into a holistic approach that provides medical care, relief, education, and jobs for people in Uganda. Through various initiatives and programs, Sole Hope uses real-world solutions to benefit as many people as possible.
Each week Sole Hope helps about 400 people—mainly children—become jigger-free by hosting two clinics in remote villages and schools in and around Jinja, Uganda. Each clinic starts with every person's feet being washed. Then a medically trained professional removes jiggers and bandages wounds. This is followed by education.
Through educational efforts, Sole Hope works to reduce the negative stigma associated with jigger infection and to teach children and caretakers how to remove jiggers and prevent infections.
Sole Hope supports local communities by employing local shoemakers and training them in innovative techniques to make durable, protective shoes for the community. To further protect individuals from jiggers, all shoes are closed-toed. These shoes are also made of 98 percent recycled materials—the tops are composed of blue jeans and plastic milk jugs, and the soles are made from old tires. The extreme durability of these shoes ensures that children won’t wear them down before they outgrow them.
After health assessments and recovery, Sole Hope returns the individual to his or her village, sanitizes the house inside and out, and provides him or her with a new bed.
The D. Gary Young, Young Living Foundation is helping Sole Hope purchase land and draft contracts to build a new outreach house in Jinja, Uganda! In worst case situations, individuals come to stay and receive healing at Sole Hope's Outreach House. Here they’re treated for jiggers and other medical conditions, and they also receive education on everything from jiggers and laundry to cooking and crafts.
Jobs & Dignity
Sole Hope believes in supporting communities and teaching the trade of shoemaking to create sustainable skills and employment.
The process begins with a pair of old, donated jeans and plastic jugs, which are cut into patterns provided by Sole Hope. The materials are then shipped to Sole Hope’s office in Jinja, Uganda, where skilled Ugandans use the pattern-cut jeans and old rubber tires to create shoes. In addition to being long-lasting, inexpensive, recyclable, locally sourced, and readily available, tires are also already a part of the Ugandan shoe culture.
This process allows old materials to be recycled into something useful, creates jobs in Jinja, stimulates the local economy, and provides much-needed shoes for the children and people of Uganda who live in jigger-infested areas.