Bishop Wayne returned from his meeting with Bishop Stephen of Lui Diocese and the Lui mission partners from the UK and Sweden identifying two desperate needs for the church members who have left their burned out villages in South Sudan for the Kiryandongo refugee camp in Kampala. Shoes and seeds.
Shoes. There is a painful condition in the Uganda camp unknown at home in Lui Diocese. The jigger, or sand flea, which burrows into feet, produces eggs which are pushed out through the skin into the dirt. Then the flea dies in the skin causing infection and worse. Children, who typically do not wear shoes in Lui, are particularly susceptible. The treatment is excruciating--cutting out the flea, with no anesthetic. Left untreated, the foot is susceptible to gangrene and loss of limb. Prevention is not difficult, it is wearing shoes and washing feet with an antimicrobial soap. Needed for treatment are non-latex gloves (health care workers' hands are susceptible to the flea eggs they are removing), Vaseline, cortisone and antibacterial creams to treat the feet after flea removal. (A sad but not too graphic video clip is here from Sosthen, the Lui priest who has built a church in the camp. His wife Veronica is a nurse, seen in this clip sitting next to the child receiving treatment.)
There is a sense of shame, too, that this is happening in a place where there are no extra resources for the simple measure of prevention.
But simple shoes and soap are something we can help with.
Bishop Wayne and the companion diocese committee (CDC) have been meeting weekly, identifying just how we might get a large container of shoes and supplies to the refugee camp.
So here's the plan.
Kim White, a member of Advent Episcopal Church with years of experience in international shipping and logistics, has identified a transportation company who will take the items from St. Louis to the refugee camp. A shipping container is filled with "Gaylords"--large cardboard boxes that fit perfectly into the container. Kim located a container's worth of Gaylords in Hannibal and CDC members Maria Evans and Chris Cobb plan to bring them to the St. Louis staging area in their trucks.
Kim is also working with Uganda customs to get properly assigned tariffs for each item. Each item has to be the same size and composition and the first step in the logistics process is approval from Uganda officials.
Only after this is accomplished can the diocese begin to collect items. Please note, the shoes will all be new and of the same make, as will the soap and cream. We won't set up registries until those items are approved by Uganda.
The need is really immediate, so there is great interest in completing this process quickly. In the best case scenario we'll receive papers from Uganda in a couple of weeks and hope to ship the container out end of August.
We need your help.
The CDC is preparing bulletin inserts and materials for adult forums and Sunday school. We'll distribute this when we have details on the specific items going, and on the staging process and how to get items here. That timeline gives us 4-6 weeks, mid July-August to get you information for your parishes to participate.
The goal is 10,000 pairs of shoes for little kids and children, and 3000 pairs for adults in Kiryandongo refugee camp.
The seeds part of the project is being worked on by other CDC members, and we'll have subsequent reports from them.
Please keep this work in your prayers. More next week....