Burn patient recieving follow-up care.
When I was in Nepal visiting wiith Dr. Shankar Rai recently, it broke my heart to see a five-year-old girl come in to his clinic, suffering from the physical pain and emotional trauma of a burn injury to her hand. I learned that unfortunately, burn injuries are all too common for chiildren in Nepal, especially in the rural areas. Families still use open fire pits and sometimes have kerosene used and stored near highly flammable materials. A burn injury not treated properly can become a painful disfigurement. As the damaged skin heals, it can result in what is called a burn contracture, a severe tightening of the skin that often does not respond to physical therapy alone. As we reach out to help children with congenital defects, we have realized we can also help children with disfiguring burn injuries. Dr. Rai is a reknowned surgeon with the specialized skills and experience needed to take on these complex, delicate surgeries. And we have the capacity, with the help of our donors, to transform the lives of these children.
We’ve come a long way.
Nine years ago, Children’s Medical Aid Foundation (CMAF) was founded with the purpose of freeing Nepalese children born with disfigurement and deformities from prejudice and ridicule. CMAF raises funds in the U.S. to support Dr. Shankar Rai’s Corrective Surgery Program based out of Kathmandu Model Hospital, enabling the Program to provide free surgical correction for at least 100 children every year. Without the surgery and follow-up support, these children would not have the opportunity to live up to their potential and would most likely go through life unfulfilled and impoverished due to social prejudices and ostracism.
This past year (2012), CMAF helped sponsor 130 surgeries. Since our founding, we have changed the lives of 930 children, and expect to pass a key accomplishment milestone of more than 1,000 children in 2013. We have achieved this as an all-volunteer organization, raising funds through individual donations, events, and coordinating in-kind services and donations in the U.S. and Nepal. Being part of Global Giving has been one of the best things we have done for our organization, as it increases awareness about the need in Nepal, and brings new friends and supporters into our circle of aid.
Where are we going?
In addition to treating children with congenital defects, Dr. Rai has been increasingly treating children with disfigured hands and limbs due to burn contractures. He is working to develop a new Burn Center in Kirtipur (outside of Kathmandu), which is scheduled to open this spring. The new Burn Center will focus on educating medical personnel to improve the availability and quality of burn treatment, including burn contractures. Additional trained medical personnel will be able to provide outreach to the rural areas of Nepal where the need is greatest. Going forward, CMAF will continue to raise funds for the Corrective Surgery Program, which will now include surgeries and follow-up care for burn victims, as well as children born with congenital defects.
Sanjeeb Shrestha, a citizen of Nepal and member of the CMAF Advisory Board, is assisting with the design and equipping of a public Cafeteria at the new Burn Center that will provide fresh-cooked food for staff, patients, visitors, and families. The Cafeteria will be operated as a social enterprise, hiring local cooks and using locally produced food. As a nonprofit, the Cafeteria service will be handled primarily by volunteers. All proceeds will be used for corrective surgeries and follow-up care for burn patients.