St. Innocent Academy in Tiriki, Kenya, a mission served by Orthodox Africa, is full of laughter. 146 students between the ages of just two years old to eleven years old fill its seven classrooms, sitting four to a desk. The temporary school building itself is made of corrugated steel, with dirt floors and no doors, yet for many of the students, this school, one of the poorest in Tiriki, is the closest thing they have to safety and security. More than 60% of the children are orphans.
These children are among the most at-risk in the area. They are at risk for disease, hunger, and poverty, and St. Innocent Academy represents their only way out. Here, they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic. Here, they are also fed two meals a day. For many, the meals they get at St. Innocent’s are their only meals each day. Many are so poor, they have no shoes. This leads to a great problem with a very easy solution.
The problem is a parasitic disease called tungiasis or “jiggers.” Tungiasis is caused by burrowing parasites called jigger fleas, which live in the dirt floors of the classrooms. The barefoot students are the ideal hosts for these jigger fleas, which burrow into the children’s feet to lay their eggs. This causes a painful infection and ulceration of the foot. The swelling and the pain of the infection makes it difficult for the children to walk. Attendance drops, and classroom performance falls. When the children are not in school, they are at greater risk in the slums around them. Again, there is an easy solution: Concrete floors.
Concrete floors prevent the fleas from burrowing into the children’s feet. They are easily washed, preventing other diseases as well. Each of the seven classrooms needs a concrete floor. The cost of each floor is $143 USD. That means for a total of $1,000 USD, the classrooms can be made safer for those children who are in such desperate need.
What can you do to help? Work has already begun. The baby classroom has a new concrete floor, and, with your help, others will follow, hopefully in the next few weeks. This is the first BIG fundraising goal for St. Innocent’s! Donations have been received in the amount of $400 USD, which leaves only $600 USD remaining. With your help, the students will have a safer school, free of burrowing parasites, and be able to get the education they need to rise out of poverty. The laughter that is the sound of happy, healthy children will continue to be heard in the classrooms and playground of St. Innocent Academy.
TO DONATE: Please visit our donation page. Please be as generous as you can! Remember, the solution is easy when people are generous!