South Africa: Vusi

Child injuries: the stories behind the statistics
December 2008

Five years ago, when he was 13, Vusi from South Africa suffered serious burns. He woke up one night to find his blanket and bedroom ablaze from a candle that had fallen over. The flames burned his face, hands and feet.

After many months in hospital, he left wearing a brown elasticized pressure garment around his face and hands to prevent his scars from becoming thick and raised, as often happens. Vusi was very sensitive about his appearance. In addition, the long hospital stay and the psychological stress led to problems at school, and his education was delayed.

Despite all this, Vusi has become a friendly person with an engaging smile. He loves music and volunteers his time with blind children and other people with disabilities, encouraging them to exercise more.

Vusi got support from Africa’s first burns charity, Children of Fire. The organization helps severely burned children to obtain complex surgery, therapy and education. It also conducts community education and is involved in promoting safer stoves and candle holders.

In June 2007, Vusi and 14 other teenaged burns survivors climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of burn injuries and how to prevent them, and to increase the tolerance of disability and disfigurement.

Vusi showing the scars on his hands and face.
Children of Fire
Vusi has been left with permanent scars on his face, hands and chest.