“Is that a raisin on your keyboard???” An online health magazine out of London is running a contest for photos featuring mouse droppings on keyboards in the workplace. Recent findings show that workers are developing flu-like illnesses resulting from exposure to mice droppings on work surfaces such as the computer keyboard. The illness in now being called “Qwerty Tummy.”
I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with our mission in Kenya. Well, whenever we talk about our kids in Soweto, the usual response is-“What do they need, and how can I help?” So, I thought I’d share this week’s adventure with you!
I came across the article on “Qwerty Tummy” while doing research on the effects of mice droppings in human food. I became concerned with this matter after our last visit to Kenya. We have always seen small mice around the compound, but this year was the first time I considered the danger to our children. In the past, the school has only had the funds to purchase food by the day or week. Thanks to our donor base, we are increasingly able to offer the means by which they can purchase food in bulk. I think you know where this is going.
When funds are available, Samuel purchases rice and maize flour in large burlap sacks. Usually, these sacks provide the staple for the entire month. While this is wonderful, it poses a new problem-mice. The mice chew through the bags and then invite their friends to join the party. At first, I was grossed out, but figured, “How much can they eat?” It was not until I saw the “brown” rice (not the whole grain you buy at Whole Foods) and “yellowish” maize that I realized the real threat to the health of the students and staff.
Since Kenyans waste nothing, especially food, I decided to research the danger. Needless to say, mice droppings are not a part of a balanced diet! Mice urine and droppings can transmit salmonella and tapeworms as well as infectious jaundice/leptospirosis/Weil’s Disease. If that is not bad enough, mice also leave behind hair and fleas that can cause serious illnesses.
I realize this information is not very good PR for those thinking about going to Kenya with us! But, this is not a hopeless situation. We have mapped out a plan to correct the situation and we thought some of our friends might want to be a part of assuring food safety on the ground in Soweto. We would like to purchase plastic drums to store the food, and construct secure shelving units to store paper and supplies away from the mice. This also means we will need a larger space to put the units in. It’s a rather inexpensive problem to solve if everyone takes a small part:
Here is what we need:
Ceiling boards -10 @ $10 a board
Wall boards -19 @ $13 a board
Ceiling nails -$5
Would you consider “adopting” a piece of this project? If so, please follow the link to our website. Thanks in advance for being a part of the mission to provide health safety to my favorite kids in Kenya!