Some may not remember the year 1974, but Yitayih remembers—it was the year his podoconiosis symptoms began. The tell-tale itching and burning sensation began on one foot and two years later, it also appeared on the other foot. His neighbors were scared of podoconiosis and told him myths about how he may have contracted the disease. Some told him that he stepped on the blood of a girl on her wedding day, and others said that he stepped on a traditional herb dumped on the road by an evil person.
Yitayih traveled to other areas seeking different traditional treatments, but there was no change and he returned back to his village. However, his family cast him out again, calling him a "leper". One day, he heard rumors that there was a treatment site being started for people with podoconiosis symptoms in Debre Markos. Tired of trying different traditional medications that did not work, he did not believe that this new program was any different. A meeting was held with community members affected by podoconiosis and those that had been to the new program taught the others.
Yitayih remembered one of the men sharing his experience, and he was amazed to see the change in his leg size and appearance. He became convinced to try this program and at the site, he was given health education about the important of foot hygiene and the use of shoes. Yitayih strictly followed these recommendations and miraculously his swelling improved. His confidence grew and he returned to his village.
"Because of the good treatment I have received, my feet are in good health and no one insults me like before," Yitayih remarked. He continues to spread this health education message to everyone he sees afflicted by podo whether it be at church, in town or at other community functions.
Eight years ago, Bayush began to notice a painful swelling in her lower limbs. Believing these symptoms would pass, she carried on with daily life. However, the swelling and pain continued to increase as days went on. Bayush began to worry. Perhaps the swelling was related to an incident a few months earlier when bird feces had fallen on her foot, she thought. She faithfully cleansed her feet with holy water and used different types of herbal medicine. Sadly, these remedies did not help. There were days when the pain was so intense, Bayush could not leave her bed. Her family refused to help in fear and her neighbors only spread nasty rumors about her. She was turned away from community events and eventually her own home by her husband. Sullen and destitute, Bayush did not know where to turn. One day, Bayush came across a friend who had been treated at a special program for similar symptoms caused by a disease called podoconiosis. Bayush followed the directions of her friend and visited this program. The staff at the program site explained to Bayush about the real cause and treatment of podoconiosis. They taught her how to wash her feet and how to use bandages/exercises to decrease the swelling. When she had arrived at the program, her feet were massively swollen and had a mossy appearance. Three months later, she could fit her feet into shoes again. The mossy appearance had gone away. She was accepted back into her village and she began to teach others about podoconiosis. Bayush was given her life back again.
|Description||Before Treatment||After Treatment|
|Left Leg Swelling Measurement||28 cm||26 cm|
|Right Leg Swelling Measurement||33 cm||28 cm|
|Left Foot Swelling Measurement||35 cm||25 cm|
|Right Foot Swelling Measurement||32 cm||26 cm|