In 2001, my family was involved in an accident and my mom was burned very badly. Over 30% of her body was 3rd degree burns. We were living in Bolivia, South American at the time, but had to move to the USA to save her life! After 5 months, we returned to Bolivia and my mom made it her mission to help burn victims like her.
Burn victims need special treatment and need to wear a Pressure Suit or Garment for up to two years!!! It depends on how badly they were burned and how much of their body was burned. Most people don't know how devastating burns are and how, if not cared for properly, can destroy a person's life. Once burns have grown new skin, the hardest part begins! The skin is an incredibly strong organ and can pull a persons body into positions that create handicaps...this is why Pressure Suits and Garments are SOOOO important!!!!! My mom saw this need and created Burn Care International!!! Although BCI does many things, the main focus is creating the Pressure Suits and Garments so that skin can heal correctly, smooth and flat.
BCI's clinic is found in three small rooms inside Hospital Viedma in Cochabamba, Bolivia...a Patient Room and a Sewing Room, with a Bathroom in between. Once you have arrived at the hospital grounds, you enter this door to the Physical Therapy area of Hospital Viedma.
Then, take the first door on the left to enter BCI's Pressure Therapy Clinic...when you walk through this door, you are in the Patient Room (you can see the sink straight ahead).
Once you are inside the Patient Room, you turn to the right (walk past the bathroom door) and you arrive in the Sewing Room. The room looks big because I took a panoramic shot, but when four of us where in there, there was no room to move.
Right outside of the bathroom door is this shelf full of materials. It looks like a lot, but they go through this stuff fast and are constantly needing more!!!
Maria is the head seamstress and she keeps her work organized on this shelf...you can see some small Pressure Garments waiting on patients to come get them. Not only does BCI's Clinic get new patients all of the time, who need measurements and new Pressure Garments and Suits, but they also have returning patients who need adjustments made so that the fit continues to be very tight. Maria has a lot of work cut out for her!!!
Barbara is a volunteer who comes twice a week and has been coming for years. She takes care of a lot of the organizing, staying on top of stock, keeping in touch with my mom, handling the money, etc. Barbara is so important to this ministry and we really appreciate how much she willingly and freely gives to us!!!
Nick is organizing in the Sewing Room...behind him is the bathroom and through that door is the Patient Room. You can see that BCI's Clinic doesn't have much room to work with, but they make it work well!!!
This little patient below is named Emily!!! I really like her name :) She was so cute and so sweet. We kept asking her if she wanted a toy while she waited and she kept saying, "no". Then, we starting asking her what her favorite toy is and everything we named, she would only reply, "no". Obviously, she is a child and I'm sure she loves toys, but she was top secret around us! Maybe the giant Americans were throwing her off :) All of the children who walked over from the Hospital Viedma had shaved heads...boys and girls alike. The hospital does this so that they don't have to deal with the child's hair much during their stay!!!!!! Imagine what parents would do in the USA if they came to the hospital to visit their child and found their head shaved without permission!!!!
Emily was burned by boiling water...this is VERY common among the children who come in for help!!! The hospital staff had her wearing a bathrobe and crocs that would fit a child 5 years older than her!!! See how they have the sleeved rolled WAY up?!?!!? But, she had no idea that she shouldn't be the happiest little girl in the world...so sweet...
Juana (on right) and Maria (on left) are a great team!!!!!! Juana invites patients in...she is so friendly and welcoming, especially to the scared little children. Then, as Maria measures, Juana jots down notes so that Maria can sew the perfect fit for each patient. You wouldn't believe how many measurements they take down for each part of the body. The Garments and Suits must be tight like a glove in every surface of the skin, even in the difficult places like chest, neck and all of the curves and places that bend.
Neymar (the boy below) was so scared and cried the entire time that he was in our Clinic. He cried when he came in, when they got him to stand on the table, when they got him to sit down, when they took off his clothes, when they looked at his burns, when they measured him, when they put his clothes back on, when his dad picked him up to leave and even, as they were leaving the building, he continued to cry until they were too far away to hear him anymore. It was so sad because he had such horrible burns all over his body...even his private area had been mostly burned off. He was a difficult patient to witness...
Neymar, just like the little girl Emily, was burned with boiling water...
After Juana and Maria measured Neymar, Maria sewed this entire Pressure Suit within minutes!!!!! They put him in his new suit to make sure everything fit just right before sending him off. He will have to come back every few weeks to get his suit re-adjusted. As long as his parents continue to bring him, he will need to wear this suit everyday for the next two years.
Each patient goes home with two of each piece needed to cover their burns...two sets of pants...two sets of gloves...two sets of shirts...etc. One is to wear and one is to wash. The patients must wear their suit 23 out of 24 hours a day!!! I'm telling you, getting burned is a horrible experience. It is more than just waiting for your burns to heal, it is years of work and your life is never the same.
Juana and Maria have now been working here with the burn victims for 10 years!!!
These burned children need OUR help.
Burn victims around the world need OUR help.
Please support BCI so that WE can help them...ALL of them! Getting burned is a terrible experience, but imagine being burned in a country without good health care!!! Imagine your burned skin turning into thick scars that continues to grow tight until you are left handicapped for life!!!! Imagine not having the options that we have in the USA!!!! Most people can't imagine...but, for many, this is their life!!!
By supporting BCI, you will be providing material, thread, zippers and foam for the Pressure Garments and Suits, silicon for the difficult scars, essential oils and creams for itching skin, salaries for Juana and Maria and basic supplies for the Clinic.
Please DONATE ONLINE by scrolling to the bottom of the BCI website and clicking the DONATE button. Or you can MAIL A CHECK to: Burn Care International, 419 Woodland Drive, Florence, SC 29501. All donations are tax-deductible and will change the life of a burned victim!!!