On August 1, 2014, in the middle of the night, the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung was rocked by a series of explosions caused by ruptured gas pipelines. People were shocked by images of destruction, with upturned cars, streets blown open, damaged buildings and fires burning uncontrollably. The explosions claimed the lives of 31 people, and over 300 people were injured. Among injured people, 73 people sustained burns, with 48 people being severely burned. Victims included residents of the district where the incident occurred, but also firefighters and paramedics who were responding to emergency calls.
Immediately after the incident, Sunshine mobilized its staff to visit victims and their family in the different hospitals and provide emotional support, in order to help them deal with the stress of hospitalization, the psychological impact of this traumatic event, as well as many uncertainties about the future that emerge following burns. Indeed, hospital discharge does not mark the end of the trials of burn survivors, but instead it marks the beginning of the most difficult part of their recovery: rehabilitation.
In order to ensure that burn survivors of the Kaohsiung gas explosion have access to quality comprehensive rehabilitation services locally, Sunshine inaugurated on October 16th a new rehabilitation center in Kaohsiung. Instead of having to leave their family and community to come to Taipei, burn survivors in Kaohsiung and southern Taiwan can come to this new center, which offers daily physical and occupation therapy services, pressure garment service, daily living skills training, individual/group psychological counseling and work preparation training. Burn survivors not only receive personalized services, but also benefit from the peer support atmosphere of the center.
Yan-Ting is one of the burn survivors benefiting from the services of Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center. Yan-Ting graduated from a professional school, where he studied to be an auto technician. When the explosions occurred, he was on his way back home and sustained second to third degree burns over 36% of his body, including the hands, arms and back. Due to the severity of his injuries, he was hospitalized for one month and his mother had to resign from work to take care of him full-time. After hospital discharge, Yan-Ting began undergoing rehabilitation at the new center. Yan-Ting especially wants to improve his hand functions because there are many things he cannot do, like riding his motorcycle, cooking or simply doing simple daily tasks. Also, due to pain and hypersensitivity of the hands, he is worried that he will not be able to work in his field of auto mechanics. However, after one month of physical rehabilitation, Yan-Ting is able to handle more and more objects with his hands, and he even started to cook for himself. His self-confidence has also increased, and he now knows that he will be able to recover his hand function. As the eldest son in his family, he is especially relieved to know that he will be able to regain his independence and not be a burden or a source of worry for his mother.
The establishment of the new Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center was made possible thanks to the generous donations of people like you. As a donor to our project Rehabilitation for burn survivors in Taiwan, you are a crucial source of support for the Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center, as well as our other rehabilitation projects across Taiwan. You make it possible for burn survivors like Yan-Ting to not only regain the ability to live an independent and active life, but also regain hope for the future.
A-Liang* is an energetic, positive and resourceful guy in his early twenties who leads a full and interesting life. Although he is very young, he started his own web-design company at home and he even employs other young designers. A-Liang is also a music enthusiast who plays base and guitar in a rock band he formed with friends. Of a curious and inquisitive nature, his interests are quite broad and if something new captures his interest, he will devote time and effort to understanding it. Little did he know that these qualities would prove critical in helping him face a new challenge...
The moment life changes
In early 2014, while walking back home from fishing at a nearby creek, A-Liang was crossing railroad tracks when his metal fishing rod accidentally got caught in electrical wires. A-Liang felt a sudden shock and everything went dark. The next thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital bed, his body covered in bandages. He had suffered severe electrical burns on his legs, trunk, arms, hands and neck. His fingers were particularly affected. He was fortunate that no amputation was necessary, but the fingertips were all charred and black, and his fingers became hypersensitive.
After many weeks in hospital, A-Liang was able to return home and that's when he started receiving visits from a social worker and a therapist from Sunshine's Central Center. Due to the severity of his burns, the therapist recommended intensive physical rehabilitation at Sunshine Rehabilitation Center in Taipei but A-Liang didn't want to be away from his family for an extended period of time and preferred to stay home. The therapist thus recommended home exercises, and also arranged for A-Liang to receive regular rehabilitation services at a nearby hospital. However, after a few weeks, A-Liang felt that he was wasting a lot of his time on the road and in hospital waiting rooms so he said he wanted to do rehabilitation by himself at home. At first, the therapist was a bit worried, but A-Liang methodically reviewed the pros and cons with her, convincing her that he had put a lot of thought into this and that he was committed to succeeding.
The importance of home rehabilitation services for burn survivors in the regions
For burn survivors living outside major urban centers, distance or limited medical resources reduce access to regular physical therapy. Sometimes, misconceptions about the scar healing process, ignorance of the importance of rehabilitation, urgent worries of personal or financial nature or other personal considerations also deter burn survivors from availing themselves of therapy, significantly delaying their recovery.
In 2004, Sunshine began offering home outreach services, with physical therapists visiting patients at home to plan rehabilitation programs they can carry out themselves. Therapists monitor progress, which reduces complications such as scar contracture. Patient education also inspires burn survivors to take charge of their recovery and become involved in developing their rehabilitation program. Visits also help identify burn survivors who, due to the seriousness of their physical condition, lack of family support, low motivation or limited local medical resources, need to carry out rehabilitation in the supervised setting of the Center in Taipei.
Client and therapist work together to set goals and achieve them
The therapist and A-Liang set out to outline rehabilitation goals, one of which was to be able to play the guitar again. In addition to providing pressure garments to control scar growth, the therapist planned a home exercise program which tried to use as mush as possible objects commonly found in the home, as well as activities carried out daily. For example, simple nuts and bolts became tools to practice fine motor skills. As A-Liang's physical status improved, the therapist modified his rehabilitation program and A-Liang himself began to look at daily life from the perspective of rehabilitation. Always ingenious, he started to think of ways to incorporate rehabilitation exercises and training in daily activities. For example, he became interested in making paper models and found that cutting, folding and gluing all the minuscule elements was a great way to train his hand function. He also began to play guitar again. Despite finger hypersensitivity which made pinching chords extremely painful, he found that with practice, flexibility of his fingers improved and sensitivity decreased. A-Liang actively discussed with the therapist his ideas and findings, and she encouraged him to explore these possibilities.
During home rehabilitation visits, the therapist must move at the pace of the client and also try to make sure that she understands the needs and concerns of the client in order to ensure successful communication. She must also be able to adapt her clinical knowledge and skills to the home environment situation, and by discussing with the client his life experience (ex: interests, hobbies, etc.), she can identify ways by which rehabilitation can be integrated in daily life.
During a recent visit, A-Liang surprised the therapist by picking up his guitar and serenading her. A-Liang's goal to play guitar again is almost achieved and very soon, he'll be able to resume his active life.
Help us bring home rehabilitation services to more burn survivors in Taiwan
A donation of US$70 allows us to carry out one home rehabilitation visit to a burn survivor like A-Liang. Now, during GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day on October 15, you have the chance to maximize the value of your support because GlobalGiving will be matching gifts made to Sunshine Foundation at 30%. This means that your donation of $100 will receive a $30 match!
We invite you to support Sunshine Foundation’s efforts to provide comprehensive rehabilitation services to burn survivors in Taiwan by donating to our project Rehabilitation for burn survivors in Taiwan.
Mark the Bonus Day date on your calendar!!!
Taiwan time: from Wednesday, October 15 at 9:00 PM to Thursday, October 16 at 11:59 AM.US time: from Wednesday, October 15 at 9:00 AM EST to Wednesday, October 15 at 11:59 PM EST
On behalf of Sunshine Foundation and its international partners, a huge thank you for your support!
PS: We encourage you to make your donation early, because matching funds will likely run out before the end of the day.
(*) Name has been modified.
Over the course of the long rehabilitation process following burns, the professional team of Sunshine Foundation not only helps burn survivors, but they also provide crucial support to family members who must deal with the emotional impact of the injury of their loved one and the recovery process. This can be especially difficult for the parents of burned children. As part of her work as a psychological counselor at Sunshine Foundation, Maggie NIU helps these parents explore and understand their emotions about their child’s injury.
In the course of my work at Sunshine Foundation, I often meet parents of small burned children who anxiously ask me if the injury will cast a lifelong shadow over their child and what can be done about it.
Faced with these questions, the first thing I can be certain of is that the parents are dealing with their own trauma and a tremendous amount of stress, which sometimes even exceeds the trauma and stress endured by a child who doesn’t really understand what is happening. During rehabilitation, the child who cries, screams and runs away is directly reacting to the physical pain. However, every scream of pain is like a dagger in the heart of the parents who worry for their child and blame themselves for letting this happen.
Hsiao-Li is one of those parents. Her daughter was burned while Hsiao-Li was absent, and now Hsiao-Li is not only ridden with guilt, but she also worries that the pain of rehabilitation and the scars will leave her daughter traumatized for life. Hsiao-Li told me how she must constantly appease her daughter every time she does rehabilitation, changes her wound dressing, showers her or puts her clothes on because the pain is too strong. Or how at night, she must help her daughter relieve the pain and itch caused by the scars without damaging the fragile skin that is progressively healing. Hsiao-Li desperately wishes that she could take some of the pain on herself. And although changes in her daughter’s appearance would never alter the love she feels for her, Hsiao-Li can’t help worrying how people will treat her daughter in the future. After a day spent overcoming a variety of challenges, Hsiao-Li looks at the little face of her daughter who has finally been able to fall asleep and thinks: “I wish my little treasure would never grow up. If she doesn’t grow up, I can continue to take care of her, she wouldn’t have to learn about the harsh reality of life and she wouldn’t have to face the stares of others.”
As I look at the exhausted Hsiao-Li sharing her most inner thoughts, I feel my eyes filling with tears. This period now is the hardest for a mother, but it’s also the happiest, because she can give her daughter more love, more attention and she can do more for her. Hsiao-Li cherishes this moment when she can protect her daughter who although being injured, is nonetheless surrounded by unconditional love. Nobody can be blamed for this kind of injury and nobody would wish this on anyone, but the emotional pain and pressure felt by parents is all too real. As I look at Hsiao-Li, I can’t help thinking: “Continue caring for your daughter, and we will continue to care for you and support you through it all!”
Your support is crucial!
Your donations make it possible for Sunshine Foundation to help burn survivors and their family go through the difficult process of rehabilitation. Now, thanks to Bonus Day on July 16th, your donation can achieve greater impact. During the July 16th Bonus Day, GlobalGiving will be matching online donations made to Sunshine Foundation at 40%! This means that a US$100 donation will result in a US$40 match!
Bonus Day begins at 9:00 am EDT on July 16th, 2014 (time in your city) and ends at 11:59 pm EDT (time in your city) on July 16th, 2014. There is $130,000 in matching funds available, so be sure to make your donation early.
Online donations of up to $1,000 per individual donor per project are eligible to be matched at 40%. In addition, the organization that raises the most donations on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from GlobalGiving. This bonus prize is determined at 11:59 pm EDT on July 16th.
Yu-Ling (*) was 56 years old at the time of injury. This mother of two daughters sustained serious injuries after a gas explosion, having severe burns over 40% of her body. Due to the gravity of her injury, Yu-Ling was hospitalized for 6 months, with the first 4 months spent in coma. Her daughters were by her side throughout, talking to her, holding her hand, singing to her and calling her name, but also taking care of not crying in front of her, because they believed they could still reach out to their mother despite the haze of unconsciousness.
When Yu-Ling made a miraculous recovery and finally came out of the coma, she had to come to grip with the fact that she couldn’t use her hands, nor could she stand up and walk. There were a lot of things she could no longer do by herself. Thanks to her daughters, she came to stay at Sunshine Half-Way House and began her long process of recovery by doing daily rehabilitation at Sunshine Rehabilitation Center. Sunshine helped Yu-Ling in her two-year struggle, not only to recover her ability to walk and be independent, but also to come to terms with her scars and her changed appearance.
Although her daughters are grown women, she still felt the guilt of not having been able to be by there side as a mother should for so long. As she began training to regain the use her hands, she spent a lot of time re-learning how to hold a pen and write. Eventually, she was able to write a full page letter to her daughters, telling them how much she loved them and how she wished for their happiness.
And when her eldest daughter got married, she worried at first that if she attended while wearing her pressure garment, she would create a distraction during the event or bring discomfort to the groom’s family. But her daughter said: “Who hasn’t had a parent or a family member who fell ill or was injured? Having my mother by my side during this special day is the best blessing a daughter could have!”
Your support over the last year has been crucial in helping burn survivors like Yu-Ling find the strength to return to a normal life. Now, during GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day on May 7, you have the chance to maximize the value of your support because GlobalGiving will be matching gifts made to Sunshine Foundation at 30%. This means that your donation of $100 will receive a $30 match!
Mark the Bonus Day date on your calendar!!!Taiwan time: from Wednesday, May 7 at 9:00 PM to Thursday, May 8 at 11:59 AM.US time: from Wednesday, May 7 at 9:00 AM EST to Wednesday, May 7 at 11:59 PM EST
Little Ming(*) is a rambunctious child, always running around, laughing and chatting. And for the last two years, he has also been undergoing intensive rehabilitation at Sunshine Foundation following major burn injuries. During this time, he stayed at Sunshine Half-Way House, going to school nearby in the morning, then doing rehabilitation at our Center in the afternoon, all the while undergoing a series of reconstructive surgeries for his scars. Burns have brought a lot of pain and disruptions in Little Ming’s life, but his stay at Sunshine wasn’t devoid of happy times, and he experienced many new things and befriended many new people.
On the last week of January, Little Ming finally “graduated” from Sunshine and began preparations to return home among his family. But how do you put two momentous years filled with laughter and pain behind you? Saying goodbye to the people and places you have grown attached to is never easy, even more so for a little child. So Sunshine’s worker discussed with Little Ming how he wanted to mark the end of his rehabilitation and together, they decided to embark on a trip down memory lane.
Over the course of one day, Little Ming went back to Sunshine Half-Way House, Sunshine Rehabilitation Center, the hospital where he was treated, as well as the kindergarten and elementary school where he studied to say goodbye to the people important to him: his doctor, his therapist, his guardian, his teachers and classmates. This trip not only celebrated the ending of Little Ming’s two years of rehabilitation, but it also helped him sort out the complex mix of feelings of happiness, sadness and apprehension that inevitably arises when it’s time to leave and return home. Saying goodbye helped Little Ming find strength to face his future.
Your support over the last year has been crucial in helping burn survivors like Little Ming “graduate” and find the strength to return to a normal life. Now during GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day on February 12, you have the chance to maximize the value of your support because GlobalGiving will be matching gifts made to Sunshine Foundation at 30%. This means that your donation of $100 will receive a $30 match!
Bonus Day will be held on…
Taiwan time: from Wednesday, February 12 at 10:00 PM to Thursday, February 13 at 11:59 AM.
US time: from Wednesday, February 12 at 9:00 AM EST to Wednesday, February 12 at 11:59 PM EST
On behalf of Sunshine Foundation and all our clients, a huge thank you for your support!
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