With Sandi Sher of the Children's Hospital Trust at the opening of the brand new burns unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital.
Sometimes something awful has to happen to you before you decide to get involved in helping others. In my case the awful thing came in the form of an accident which left my little grandson with hot water burns on his upper body and face. Accidents happen in a flash and when this one happened to us we had no idea how dependent we would become on a hospital that has been quietly serving our continent for many, many years.
The burns unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital has been the place of rescue for children who have suffered burns since the 1950's. The staff there, under the expert guidance of Prof. Heinz Rhode have performed sterling work on children for all these years and because of the immediate and word-class treatment our little one received there, he does not have one single scar on his little body today.
Spending time at the hospital brought home the fact that the unit was in dire need of an upgrade. So it was a privilege indeed to be able to get involved, albeit in a very small way, with the massive effort to raise funds to make this all happen. The people in my own life as well as others in our city and elsewhere opened their hearts and together with the efforts of all the team players such the dedicated Hospital Trust staff and local government, the brand new unit was designed, built and finally unveiled to the public yesterday!
We now have a facility that is on par with other burns units internationally and being part of the blessing of this wonderful place yesterday was an honour indeed!
Of all the speeches made by doctors and dignitaries yesterday, this line, delivered by the minister of health, really stood out for me: 'Children are the messengers that we send into an unseen future...' Wow! How powerful is that!
It is therefore our duty as adults to ensure that our children are protected, cared for, educated and equipped for the future in a positive, uplifting and nurturing way. At present the burns unit treat on average 3500 children for burns of all degrees every year. The minister has vowed to start working on ensuring that the supply of electricity to people living in shacks in our townships is speeded up, as the majority of the fires that kids are caught up in are caused by paraffin lamps that are overturned in the tiny corrugated iron structures that people call home.
The video that was shown of how an overturned paraffin lamp causes an absolute inferno in a shack a mere 85 seconds after it has overturned, makes it hard to believe that some children are even able to come out there alive!
We have such a long way to go but thank goodness, there are people and companies who care and are making a difference. As much as I loved seeing the brand new, amazing ward, I couldn't help but wish that this will one day become one of the most underutilised facilities in the hospital! Imagine there being no more victims to have to treat because society has been educated, uplifted and made functional enough in order for these horrible incidents to be something of the past!
The new recreation room / gym - something they never had before!
Parents who stay overnight (as most do) no longer have to sleep on thin little mattresses on the floor. Personally, I think these fold out beds is one of the most amazing additions they could have added! Many of the parents who stay at the hospital with their children have to get up and go to work in the morning, returning to the ward in the afternoon. These are going to make such a difference!
A calming little corner in the waiting room.
One of the bright murals on the way up to the ward.
The sign on this mural reads: ''Recovery - 2km.' Don't you just love it!
For me, the opening of this unit means the completion of a road that I had no idea I was ever going to follow. I thank God, from the bottom of my heart, that our little guy came out of this ordeal with no scars and hopefully no lasting negative memories of what happened to him. I also thank God that he opened my eyes to the plight of others that might not be as fortunate as I am. I know that I look at the world with different eyes now and hope to continue to somehow try and make a difference wherever else I can. This experience turned from being horrible beyond words, to me standing on the highest point in Africa. How can one possibly be the same again after such a journey?
Jeremiah 29:11 says:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
What a truly special promise, and one that is meant for each and every child out there!