(Christianity Today) The Foot-Washers of Ethiopia

Podo is grotesque. In severe cases, the victim’s feet appear to be turning into cauliflower””horrible, rotting cauliflower””or something that grows under a rock in 20 feet of water. These are nightmare feet, seeming to bubble and melt, producing unbearable odors.

An estimated one million Ethiopians suffer from podo, as do perhaps three million more, mostly Africans. In affected areas””typically mountains with red volcanic soil””1 out of every 20 people have it. A village of 2,000 will have 100 victims, permanently disabled. In certain areas of Ethiopia, the podo infection rate surpasses that of HIV/AIDS.

Though prevalent and severe, the disease was not identified until 35 years ago. Doctors had been diagnosing the symptoms as infectious elephantiasis until a Christian doctor named Ewart Price realized that the diagnosis didn’t fit.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethiopia, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

One comment on “(Christianity Today) The Foot-Washers of Ethiopia

  1. Rob Eaton+ says:

    Glad to see this post, Kendall. We just had Bezibah “Buzz” Felleke, an Ethiopian immigrant 30 years ago, make a presentation – along with his own testimony – of the Mossy Foot project, which the church he attends has been actively involved. At the conclusion of his presentation, the ECW presented him with $250 for the project, through his church. That money will provide 100 pairs of shoes from a microenterprise setup there in Ethiopia, or it will provide a newly built living quarters – basically, a hut with a canvas tent top – to house one of the hundreds of widows who have been ostracized due to their local community’s superstitions (and who wants to look at it). It’s not much money, but in their economy the dollar goes a long way.
    The http://www.MossyFoot.com website has all the info, the history of Dr Barlow, and method for donation.
    I also checked into the Area Diocese of the Horn of Africa which includes Ethiopia, all under the aegis of the Diocese of Egypt. I can’t tell whether there is any ministry focus for “podo” or Mossy Foot among the Anglican/Episcopal congregations. But I did observe an enormous increase in recognized congregations under their just resigned bishop (now the Bishop of Reading). Hopefully, they are involved with the other groups. Mr Felleke said there are an estimated 2 million people total affected by the disease in Ethiopia. He also said there are at least 3 other nations that have documented cases.
    The answer is so simple: shoes, chlorine and water solution, and appropriate medications for complications. The worst case Buzz knows of took 5 years to bring the person’s feet back to some sense of normal. Otherwise, a 3 to 4 month treatment period for early onset is what it takes for the cure.