Project #10558

Rehabilitation for burn survivors in Taiwan

by Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation

A victim’s father: With burns over 90% of the body, how will my child live?
Social worker: I know many who have survived and are now doing very well.
A victim’s father: My child’s life is over…
Social worker: Your child’s life is not over, a lot of burn survivors go back to school, find work and live a full life. Some even live fuller lives than ordinary people!

On the evening of June 27, a major explosion occurred at the Formosa Fun Coast Water Park during a party attended by hundreds of youths. Inspired by the Indian traditional festival of Holi during which people celebrate by throwing colored powder, the rave-like party featured music and colored powder sprayed at high velocity from the stage. At around 8:30pm, for reasons still to be determined, the powder ignited, creating a ball of flames that engulfed partygoers. As a result, 497 people sustained inhalation injuries and burns of various levels of severity (one victim passed away on June 29). As of June 29, 267 people were still in ICU, fighting for their lives.

At this critical stage, victims are receiving specialized care in more than 40 hospitals across Taiwan but in the coming months, as they progressively recover and are discharged from hospital, they will require physical rehabilitation to manage their scars and prevent loss of function. Victims and family members will also require psychological support to cope with the trauma of the accident, as well as address issues arising from a changed appearance.

Sunshine Foundation is ready to help burn victims by offering its rehabilitation services. Already, Sunshine has responded to this crisis by mobilizing its social workers and counseling psychologists across Taiwan to provide appropriate psychological support to family members at this stage of the crisis through a special Help Hotline. Victims of the June 27 Water Park Explosion and their family members can call the Help Hotline from 8:30am to 21:30pm, social workers are on hand to listen and answer their questions.

Sunshine’s social workers have also been carrying out hospital visits to meet with family members, explain the future process of rehabilitation to them so that they know what to expect, and also assess needs to plan services for the coming months.

Sunshine Foundation has been helping burn survivors in Taiwan rebuild their lives since 1981 and we will use this expertise accumulated over the years to help the young victims of the June 27 Water Park Explosion, as well as their family. We hope that you will continue to support our efforts through GlobalGiving, and we will continue to update you about our work. Together, we can give burn survivors and their families the strength to overcome this ordeal and find new hope in the future.

Going to a job interview can be a nerve-wrecking experience. Whether it’s on our resume or during the interview process, we want to project the best side of ourselves and let the employer be won over by our charisma, our talent and our skills. But what happens when you have a visible facial difference? How do you make sure that people go beyond appearances and appreciate you for your qualities? This is an issue faced regularly by burn survivors when time comes for them to go back to active life and (re)integrate the job market.

Because of their different appearance, burn survivors often face discrimination when they return to their community, their school or when they try to find work. In order to raise awareness about this issue, Sunshine made a short film featuring one of our clients Cai-Yu that is inspired by her experience looking for a job, going to interviews and being “politely” rejected before even getting a chance to present herself once the potential employer saw her scars.

See the video here (you can select English, French or Spanish subtitles).

Sunshine Foundation helps burn survivors and people with facial disfigurement by providing physical and psychosocial rehabilitation services. Another important part of our work is to also uphold their human rights and dignity. It’s one thing to help burn survivors regain physical functions, but if they return to an unfriendly environment that judges them not on their talent and capacities but on their appearance, then we only did half of the work.

Your support is crucial not only in helping burn survivors like Cai-Yu to find the strength to return to a normal life after her injury and participate actively in society, but also in helping us change society’s discriminatory attitudes and beliefs towards facial disfigurement.

Now, during GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day on July 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, July 15 at 9:00 PM to Thursday, July 16 at 11:59 AM.
US time: from Wednesday, July 15 at 9:00 AM EST to Wednesday, July 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.


Mei-Li accepting a public service award
Mei-Li accepting a public service award

A burn is probably the most traumatic experience one can go through. The ordeal doesn’t end after hospital discharge or after wounds have healed. Instead, burn survivors face the long process of rehabilitation during which they must fight against scar contracture while re-learning to live with a changed appearance. But from the struggles against these highly challenging life circumstances come growth and a new perspective on life. The traumatic experience also gains a new meaning.

This is the case of Mei-Li who sustained severe burns 20 years ago. Having undergone over 50 reconstructive surgeries and a long rehabilitation process at Sunshine Foundation, she made tremendous efforts to bring her life back on track by going back to school and earning many professional certifications. She also had to overcome the challenges posed by facial disfigurement when looking for a job but with her determination and confidence, she eventually climbed up the professional ladder and landed a managerial job. Mei-Li’s fighting spirit has touched many people and she now uses her story to encourage other burn survivors to step out during many educational activities. Mei-Li is also Sunshine’s Face Equality Ambassador, giving talks to raise public awareness about the rights of people with facial disfigurement.

“The burn injury is just another experience different from what other people go through. If you use a positive outlook to examine your setbacks and don’t see yourself as a victim, people will not look at you differently.” From helping herself to helping others, Mei-Li’s journey that started in pain now has a new meaning, as it is used to inspire and encourage many burn survivors and people with facial disfigurement: “If you put your mind to it, you can go back to school, you can become a manager, you can become a teacher. Each person has his or her own self-worth.”

The award recognizes Mei-Li
The award recognizes Mei-Li's public work

Dear Friends,

As we are getting ready to celebrate Lunar New Year on February 18th, we would like to take this opportunity to look back on 2014, and thank you for your support, which has made it possible for us to do so much during an eventful year.

Indeed, at the local level, we were able to provide services to a total of 384 burn survivors. We also held hundreds of educational activities across Taiwan focusing on prevention and enhancing the public’s understanding and acceptance of facial disfigurement. In addition to our five service centers in Taipei City, Taichung City, Chia-Yi City, Kaohsiung City and Hualian City, we also opened three new work stations in Taoyuan County, Tainan County and Taitung County to bring our services closer to our clients. The unexpected tragedy of the August 1st Kaohsiung Gas Explosion also led to the establishment of a new Rehabilitation Center in Kaohsiung in October to help the victims of the accident.

At the international level, we have continued our capacity building work to train burn professionals and improve their ability to provide better care locally to burn survivors. In India, we have continued helping our local partner build the capacities to set up and operate a rehabilitation center for women burn survivors. We have also continued working with partners in five Central America countries to strengthen their capacity to make pressure garments for burned children. And we are now developing a new training program for burn therapists from Nepal and Bangladesh that should take place in March 2015.

Some of these projects were already part of our annual plan, some were a response to urgent needs, all were made possible by your support. Thank you for helping us bring rehabilitation services to burn survivors in Taiwan, and for allowing us to share our expertise in order to better the lives of burn survivors elsewhere around the world.

2015 is the Year of the Sheep according to Chinese zodiac, and traditionally, Lunar New Year is a time for family gatherings and celebrations. On behalf of everyone at Sunshine Foundation, we wish you peace, health, good fortune and prosperity for 2015, and we look forward to continuing working with you to better the lives of burn survivors.

Opening ceremony of new rehabilitation center
Opening ceremony of new rehabilitation center

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.

Mayor of Kaohsiung visits new center
Mayor of Kaohsiung visits new center
Burn survivors in Kaohsiung have their own center
Burn survivors in Kaohsiung have their own center

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Organization Information

Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation

Location: Taipei City - Taiwan
Website: http:/​/​​english/​
Project Leader:
Marie-Claude Pelchat
Taipei City, Taiwan
2016 Year End Campaign
Time left to give
$35,307 raised of $40,000 goal
351 donations
$4,693 to go
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