Every night da worms
A GREY-HAIRED woman sits on the dilapidated front porch of her adobe home scratching furiously at the inside of her arm. Juliana has river blindness silk ribbon embroidery, a disease that claimed her sight sixteen years ago and which has left her in almost permanent physical distress.
“Every night da worms, dey come alive under ma skin!” she tells me in her pigeon English, thrusting forwards both arms, livid with scars and bumps. “Truly da pain is a terrible thing,” she says, jabbing the air. “I ask ma Saviour each day to take me from dis life but he be not for listening. How am I to bear it?”
We are high in the hills above Bamenda, in the mountainous north-west of Cameroon. I am here with the humanitarian agency Sightsavers, who are in Cameroon to mark the 250 millionth distribution of Mectizan, a preventative treatment for river blindness.
Itching, skin rashes and blindness
River blindness is transmitted through the bite of a black fly, which breeds in fast-flowing water. The disease is caused by tiny larvae which multiply in the body, triggering terrible itching, property in thailand skin rashes and blindness.
The Spurs football star, Benoît Assou-Ekotto, beloved in Cameroon for his devotion to the national team, eccentric hairstyles and commitment to social issues, has agreed to distribute the 250 millionth treatment, and wherever he goes, we are mobbed.
The only person who seems unfazed by the media circus surrounding Benoît is Nahbila, the six-year-old granddaughter of Juliana. Nahbila has been chosen to be the recipient of the 250 millionth treatment. Any thoughts that she will be overwhelmed by her role evaporate as soon as the cameras swoop down on her.
Nahbila flashes a beaming smile to the press, nuskin does a twirl, then places Benoît’s hand firmly on Juliana’s arm, whose melancholy evaporates as soon as she discovers who Benoît is. Soon the three are heading slowly, but gaily along the rocky path leading down from Juliana’s home, to the road.