Oprah Winfrey Network TV Special to Feature Ethiopia’s Mossy Foot Project on Monday, August 11
By Boaz Wadel
Since 1997, a Ventura, California-based medical mission has brought physical, emotional, and spiritual healing to modern-day lepers in a remote region of Ethiopia.
And now, the August 11 episode of "Operation Change," a documentary series airing at 7 P.M. PDT on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), will feature the groundbreaking work of the Mossy Foot Project.
According to a news release sent to ANS, missionary doctor Nathan Barlow began working in Ethiopia in 1945. Along the way he encountered patients with feet and legs swollen so large that they looked similar to lepers. Many of the patients couldn't walk and most were outcasts in society.
Dr. Barlow showed empathy and met the need head-on. He eventually started the Mossy Foot Project which had several clinics and provided a remedy for non-filarial elephantiasis, commonly known as mossy foot disease
Dr. Barlow ran his clinics until a few months before his death in 2004. Today, Dr. Barlow's daughter, Sharon Barlow Daly is president of the Mossy Foot Project and continues the work, splitting her time between Ethiopia and Ventura, California.
To coincide with the "Operation Change" television special, Sharon Barlow Daly has written and released a book titled "Mossy Foot Stories: How God Is Healing and Transforming Lives Among Ethiopia's Poor and Marginalized." The book tells the inspiring, breathtaking stories of people who once had mossy foot disease but are now healed. It chronicles their journeys from misery and ostracism to restoration and wholeness.
In 2012 the Starkey Hearing Foundation sent a crew to Ethiopia to film the work of the Mossy Foot Project. The Starkey Hearing Foundation, an organization that seeks to bring about understanding between people in order to find answers to the problems of isolation, poverty, and illiteracy, was creating a documentary series on organizations around the world that serve the poor.
The series, titled "Operation Change," features stories and events taking place in some of the most poverty-stricken places in the world. When the project directors heard the story of Megiso Meno, a man who was essentially imprisoned in his home for twenty years due to a severe case of mossy foot disease-they suggested including Megiso's story in the series
The series trailer can be viewed at www.operationchange.com.
Mossy Foot Disease
What is Mossy Foot Disease? And how do people get it? It is a disease is found in places where people's bare feet are exposed to volcanic soil. Volcanic silica, made up of microscopic glass shards in the soil, passes undetected through the pores of people's skin as they walk or work and enters a person's lymphatic system.
About one in thirteen people develops an intolerance to the silica. The result is inflammation and a blockage of the lymphatic system, which causes debilitating ulcers and deformity of a person's feet and legs. The diseased person's feet look grotesque and also smell bad, causing those who have mossy foot disease to be shunned by those in their community, treated like lepers. Mossy Foot affects young and old alike.
Mossy Foot is a disease of poverty. Ninety percent of the people in Wolaita province, where Soddo is located, are subsistence farmers. Theirs is a difficult life.
Mossy Foot Project
Today the Mossy Foot Project operates sixteen clinics in various sites throughout Wolaita zone, Ethiopia. Mossy Foot Project treats as many as three thousand patients in a month at these sixteen sites. Their healthcare and social agents are former patients who have been successfully treated. Because of their personal understanding of mossy foot disease, these men and women bring comfort to the people they serve, working tirelessly at the clinics and making home visits to those who are unable to walk to the clinic.
"People with mossy foot disease become societal outcasts," Sharon Barlow Daly says. "They are shunned like lepers, when what they really need is love, acceptance, treatment, and foot protection."
Review copies of "Mossy Foot Stories: How God Is Healing and Transforming Lives Among Ethiopia's Poor and Marginalized," are available upon request.