Though he was the laughing-stock of his peers in primary school, Stanley Kamau tells this week’s CNN ‘African Voices’ how he has managed to turn this experience into a campaign that has seen thousands of other children and adults, suffering from jigger-infestation, being cured.
Jigger infestation is a commonly neglected health problem which occurs mostly in Sub-Saharan African, South American and the Caribbean. It is caused by the jigger flea, an ecto parasite which buries itself into humans and mammals and lays eggs under the skin.
Mr. Kamau, the CEO of Ahadi Kenya Trust and now a renowned anti-jigger crusader, takes to the international stage this Friday on CNN ‘African Voices’. He takes CNN to his rural village, and explains how jiggers almost robbed him of his education and his future.
“When I got to class 3, I was very heavily infested with jiggers. I almost dropped out of primary school because of the effects, I could not stand the way my classmates were laughing at me, the way they used to harass me, they would step on me, and I didn’t have shoes, there was a lot of stigma…,” Mr. Kamau tells CNN.
However, a mixture of water and insecticide in the cattle dips managed to cure Kamau of jiggers and he was able to continue his studies. “I was lucky because we had cattle dips in our home area, and when I used to take my parents’ cows to the cattle dip I would also dip my feet. We would use the cattle dip to dip our feet and hands,” he tells CNN African Voices.
Mr. Kamau went on into high school and to India for further studies and came back to start a property business in Kenya in 1996.
In the year 2000 his business had peaked. It was during this time that he returned to his home village of Murang’a and hosted an annual Christmas party.
“I was very shocked to hear that some people could not come for the Christmas party because they couldn’t walk, as their feet were deformed by jiggers. I was shocked that some kids have never gone to school, and I decided that I must be the voice of those people who are jigger-infested,” he says.
Mr. Kamau later gathered a group of Kenyan businessmen together to create the Ahadi Trust whose mission is to combat the jigger infestation in rural Kenya.
Stanley Kamau’s story will air on CNN International’s ‘African Voices’ on Friday, 17 October at 1030; with repeat broadcasting on the following days.