Chilean President Michelle Bachelet visited the COANIQUEM Burn Rehabilitation Center on December 24, 2014.
She came in support of the "Alto al Fuego 2014-15" ("No burns in 2014-15") campaign to reduce the incidence of severe burns from household fireworks. Fireworks are part of Chilean tradition at the new year and other times of celebration.
Since the founding of COANIQUEM in 1979, burns from fireworks accounted for a significant percentage of children treated at the center in Santiago.
In 2002 the Chilean legislature passed a law forbidding the use of household fireworks, limiting them to public and commercial displays. COANIQUEM played a key role in lobbying for this law, and members of the COANIQUEM Burned Children Foundation Board of Directors (including this author!) were present in the chambers when the vote was taken.
Great celebration! Without fireworks, of course!
Burns from fireworks have been reduced gradually, but greatly, since 2002. However, annual prevention campaigns continue to remind families of the dangers to children.
Of course, COANIQUEM conducts prevention education on a variety of causes of childhood burns.
It is heartening to see the support of President Bachelet for these prevention efforts.
Seen in the pictures are President Bachelet; Dr Jorge Rojas, founder and President of COANIQUEM; members of the COANIQUEM medical staff; and legislative representatives. The child patient must have been impressed!?
In a split second in 2009, Martin, at age 4, burned his face, abdomen, arms, hands, legs, and feet, as he set a mattress on fire while playing with matches.
For years, Martin and his family have been affected by this tragedy. Martin has endured painful surgeries and medical treatments. He has suffered embarrassment and ridicule because of his looks. He has been delayed in his physical development because of his injuries.
Martin's parents have suffered guilt, embarrassment, and worry because of Martin's injuries. They need to provide extra care to him, often to the neglect of other children in the family.
However - COANIQUEM has provided rehabilitation help and support since soon after the accident - all at no cost.
Martin receives reconstructive surgery periodically as his body grows. Therapists provide him with physical, psychological, and occupational treatments. He receives individualized compression garments periodically as his body grows, in order to soften his scars. He even keeps up with his schoolwork while in residence because of the on-site school, accredited by the state.
Martin's parents receive information and counseling regarding Martin's treatment at home in between sessions at the COANIQUEM center. They are instructed on ways to prevent future burn accidents to Martin and his siblings at home. One parent stays with Martin in the on-site Casabireta dormitory when he is in treatment, with free room and board.
Martin is now nine years old and in 4th grade in school. He is a good student. He recently underwent another surgery on his leg. He remains in long-term treatment, but he and his family are slowly returning to normal lives.
Thanks to the caring staff and excellent treatment at COANIQUEM!
During 2014 COANIQUEM will conduct with the support of AGCI (Chilean Agency for International Aid) the 8th International Training Program in Rehabilitation of Burned Children with the participation of 21 health care professionals from Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. After an e-learning course and one month stay at the Rehabilitation Center, the professionals will be able to implement good practices of COANIQUEM’s model of care at their home burn centers. More than 2 million children suffer from burn injuries each year in these countries. In the picture: Dr Jorge Rojas-Zegers and Jorge Daccarett Director of AGCI
Staff member Lily at COANIQUEM Burn Rehabilitation Center in Santiago, Chile, provides motivation and hope for the burned children treated there.
Lily's long-time treatment is also an example of the length of time it sometimes takes for a child to recover, both physically and mentally, in order to live a normal life.
See Lily's story attached and Carolina's testimony to the loving care received at COANIQUEM.
8,000 children per year receive this treatment free of charge at the centers in Santiago, Antofagasta, and Puerto Montt, Chile. Additionally, prevention campaigns are conducted in Chile and in other Latin American countries, in an effort to reduce the incidence of childhood burns.
Another program of COANIQUEM provides training for health professionals from throughout Latin America via e-learning and one-month residencies at COANIQUEM Santiago. This training allows local treatment in those countries, thereby widening the reach of care for burned children.
We are proud to raise funds here in the U.S. to support these wonderful efforts to help the burned children of Latin America! We appreciate the support of our many donors!
Here is Victor's story as told by his mother .. .
Hello, my name is Gloria and I am Victor’s mom. My son is 3 years old and got burned by the overturning of a kettle in 2011, when he was only one year old. This occurred at our home in Villa Alemana, and after being treated at three medical centers in the area, we moved to San Borja Arriaran Hospital in Santiago, where he stayed for two months.
When Victor was discharged, I reached COANIQUEM by mail, receiving an immediate response to my request of admitting my son as a rehabilitation patient. Since July 4th 2011, we and the wonderful medical team have been giving our best for my son’s full recovery. It's been a long process and there is still a long road ahead, but thanks to COANIQUEM, my son lives a completely normal life.
Now, two years after that fateful day, we attend every three months to the Rehabilitation Center of Santiago. We stay at Casabierta totally free, which is great, because it would be very hard to afford a place to stay. Besides, living with the staff and other moms is a great opportunity as we support each other sharing our experiences. There is a hospital school, so children do not miss classes during their treatment and they are not left behind in their studies. There are even workshops for parents where we learn handcrafting, sewing and prepare our traditional food.
It is very rewarding to share with all the amazing people who work in COANIQUEM. The staff’s huge heart and passion for children is noticed and appreciated infinitely.
. . . . As many as 8,000 children per year live stories such as this. Your support makes their continuing care possible.
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