This blog is part of an ongoing series looking to explain the common conditions CURE treats in ways that all of us non-medical folk can understand.
In all of the countries where CURE works, fires aren’t just for camping or hanging out on the back porch with some friends – they’re a daily tool people use to survive. Most cooking is done over an open fire outside the house and it’s not uncommon to find families sleeping around a fire as the warmth of the sun disappears at night. Unfortunately, the mixture of open fires and high-energy kids often ends in disaster.
Kids get burned in a wide variety of ways like Abdoul Malik who tripped and fell hands first into a vat of boiling oil, or Tassiou whose clothes went up in flames when sleeping near the fire to keep warm.
What moves these burns from mere injuries to disabilities is that many of these children have no access to the necessary medical care they need to heal properly. With time, their burns do indeed heal, but in a way where burn contractures develop. Burn contractures are essentially skin that has melted and hardened in ways and areas where there should be no skin. Common places CURE sees burn contractures form are between fingers fusing them together, across armpits limiting mobility, or even between a child’s head and shoulder pulling their head down into their torso.
Since children are not born with burn contractures, they remember what it is like to move freely without restrictions from their skin. This presents emotional challenges for many children with this condition. Thankfully though, burn contractures are treatable through surgery and dedicated physical therapy afterward. Just check out Saadou, pictured below, a young boy who had a bad burn contracture connecting his elbow to his chest. It was so bad, he could barely move his arm more than a few inches from his body. Now, after surgery and physical therapy, his arm is free and he is able to throw his hands up with ease!
There are thousands of children out there who, without your help, would still be living lives unnecessarily inhibited by burn contractures. There are also thousands of more kids out there suffering needlessly from these contractures since they are treatable. With your help, we can continue to reach out and meet these kids where they are and share the hope and healing that is offered at CURE Niger and other CURE hospitals around the world!
One of the beautiful things about CURE is that it allows everyone to participate in the life-transforming surgeries that are provided daily at the CURE hospitals all around the world. You don’t need to be able to understand words like bilateral, ventricle, genu valgum, congenital, or cerebral-spinal fluid to take part in the life-changing and life-saving work that is done. But with this said, having an understanding of the conditions CURE treats does allow a deeper appreciation of just how important the work your donation is enabling CURE to do. Thank you.
Footnote: Article written by Joel Witwer, Lead Storyteller on Wednesday 17th March 2021