Razia, Rohingya Refugee

Razia, Rohingya Refugee

Bangladesh,
February 28, 2019

Earlier this month, a ReSurge surgical mission trip visited Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, where we treated Razia, a Rohingya refugee from Myanmar. The Rohingya are an ethnic minority with their own language and culture. Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies citizenship to the Muslim Rohingya and refused to count them in the 2014 census.

Razia was 38 years old when the Myanmar military burned her village, setting fire to her home in the middle of the night. Beginning In 2017, during clashes between Rohingya militants and the military, troops have burned villages and attacked and killed civilians. 

Razia’s three children, an 18-year old son and two daughters aged 14 and 11, managed to escape the blaze unscathed. Razia was not so lucky. By the time she realized the house was burning, the roof fell in, severely burning Razia’s right arm, back and shoulder.

The family was living in Kimeching Village in Myanmar at the time of the fire. After Razia was injured, her children put her in a boat for the hour-long journey to the Bangladesh border, hoping to find help for their mother. Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar have created a refugee crisis in the Bangladesh district  of Cox’s Bazaar, where the influx of nearly 1 million refugees represents a 43% increase in the district population. 

On arrival in Bangladesh, Hope was exactly what Razia found, in the form of Hope Hospital. After the family registered in a refugee camp near the border, a camp official realized how badly burnt Razia was and sent her immediately for treatment. Razia had her initial surgery at Hope, where they were able to stabilize her and provide minimal surgical care for her injuries.

We met Razia this month when she returned to Hope Hospital, having heard about the ReSurge surgical mission trip. Razia hoped to get the use of her arm back, especially her wrists. According to Razia, the burns had stiffened her arm, making it feel heavy and much harder to work with.

Razia came to the hospital from the Rohingya refugee camp, where she and her husband have lived since the fire that left her so badly scarred. They remain at the camp because they feel is it a safe place where food is provided and their children can attend school. And she also needs the help.

“I don’t have the heart to think about the future,” Razia told us when we met her this month. “It is enough for me to know my children are safe.”

Thanks to the ReSurge volunteers’ commitment to treating not only local people, but the refugees, Razia was able to receive surgery that released her contractures, providing her with even more hope  for her future and the future of her family.

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Ty, Acid Burn Survivor…

Ty, Acid Burn Survivor

Vietnam,
January 31, 2019

Ty is a thirty-four-year-old woman with a beautiful smile. We treated her on a recent visit to Phan Rang in Vietnam. Ty’s hometown is Tân An City in the Mekong Delta region of the country.  It’s quite far from Phan Rang, so Ty spent more than 7 hours on the bus to reach the hospital.

Though her smile is beautiful, Ty’s face is badly scarred. Two years ago, a vindictive boyfriend  threw acid on her because she refused to marry him. The act destroyed Ty’s life as she knew it. Though her attacker is in prison, he was sentenced to just 5 years for this act. 

Before the accident, Ty had a good job in a textile factory. She earned about $135 per month, or $0.84 per hour. After her injury, her employer would not retain her, telling her that her appearance made her unemployable. She now works picking fruit, earning just $0.67 per day. Most heartbreaking of all, though she receives support from her brother and aging mother, Ty is unable to earn enough to care for her 10-year-old son, who now has to live with his father. 

In addition to her disfiguring facial and neck scars, Ty had not received sufficient post-burn care, so the skin on her right arm tightened, locking her elbow into a bent position. ReSurge performed two procedures on Ty, releasing her right arm so she can straighten it, and releasing the scars on her neck to improve the mobility of her head and neck.

Ty’s dream is to return to the workforce in a job that provides enough income so she can care for herself and her young son. She calls ReSurge her “second parents” for setting her on a path to a new life.

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Sheetal’s Story

Helping India’s Children Heal From Burns

India,
November 21, 2018
Meet Sheetal. At age 12, she was burned in a fire at her home where she lives with her widowed mother and two brothers. Sheetal suffered extensive burns to her back and leg. But she didn’t let her injuries stop her from going to school, where her favorite subject is math. When word spread that ReSurge was coming to Dehradun, India, Sheetal’s family was hopeful, but didn’t know how they were going to pay for the three hour trip. Ultimately, Sheetal’s teacher gave her the bus fare. After sleeping in the general ward of the hospital the first night, Sheetal was able to meet with ReSurge surgeons and get the help she and her mother were so hopeful for.
 

Sheetal is just one example of the burn victims in India. Burns are a leading cause of premature death and disability in India, and women and girls suffer burn disabilities and deaths at nearly twice the rate as other women and girls around the globe. Currently, India possesses only seven surgical specialists per 100,000 people and approximately three reconstructive plastic surgeons per 2 million people.

That’s why ReSurge is so pleased to partner with RealSelf on the launch of Beyond Scars: Healing Bodies. Restoring Lives, a new global initiative that provides burn survivors access to reconstructive surgery and medical care in India.

 
Next month, the Beyond Scars team will aid Camp Karma, the subcontinent’s first and only burn camp, in a country where there are more than 1.5 million pediatric burn survivors. Founded in 2013 by Dr. Vinita Puri, head of Plastic Surgery at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, Camp Karma focuses on transforming the lives of burn survivors like Sheetal by strengthening their ability to mentally, socially, and emotionally recover from their burn injuries and gain the tools they need to move past their scars.
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Donor Spotlight: A Lesson in Karma

Donor Spotlight: A Lesson in Karma

Cub,a
August 23, 2018

“If you do something good for others, something good will come to you.”

This is how Anthony D. explained the concept of karma to his 5 year old son, Lyric, after he asked why his family was asking for donations for ReSurge International in honor of his birthday. For the past four years, the D family have celebrated Lyric’s and his younger brother Banjo’s birthdays by asking their extensive network of family and friends to donate to ReSurge in lieu of bringing gifts to the boys’ birthday celebration.

“When they were babies, they didn’t recognize that they were not getting actual gifts at their birthday party.  But now that Lyric is 5, I had to explain to him why helping others is the greatest gift you can give or receive. And ultimately, that goodness will come back to you.”

It all started a few years ago when Anthony and LuLu, Lyric and Banjo’s mom, decided to have a celebration birthday hike in the nearby mountains for Lyric and Banjo. Their birthdays are within 8 days of each other, so a joint party seemed like a great idea. Not wanting to leave anyone out, and understanding there was no space limits on the number of people they could invite to the hike, Anthony and LuLu invited a large group, including all the kids from the boys’ preschool classes, neighbors and lots of friends.

“We thought this would also be a great way to get to know our neighbors and connect with others in our community,” said Anthony. “With the number of people participating, we thought it would also be a great opportunity to identify a way to collectively give back.”

Anthony and LuLu began researching non-profits with outstanding charity ratings and discovered ReSurge International.  They were instantly moved by the mission, impressed by the ratings and loved the global outreach component.

They created a fundraiser page, which they have continued to manage for the past four years.  This year, they have added a very special addition to the page.  A new little sister for Lyric and Banjo!  D was born in August this year and her birthday falls within the same 8 day birthday window as her brothers’. This joint birthday party just got expanded to a triple celebration!

This year’s celebration hike is taking place in September and the D family would like to invite YOU to visit their page and make a donation to ReSurge in honor of the births of their beautiful children.  They also encourage others to follow suit.

“This is such a small way to make a big difference,” said Anthony. “There’s no great sacrifice. Anyone can do this.”

And don’t worry about the D children receiving birthday gifts!

“Between their parents, grandparents and close friends, they still get plenty of actual gifts on their birthdays,” said Anthony. “And total confession…the day after the karma talk, I took the boys to Target to pick out a toy for being so kind…to try and show them that sometimes the vibrations you put out into the world can influence the vibrations that come back to you.

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Cleft Palate Repair Follow Up in Vietnam: Thi

Cleft Palate Repair Follow Up in Vietnam

Vietnam,
July 31, 2018

An important part of our mission is to provide reconstructive surgical care for poor children and adults in developing nations. But just as important as the initial surgery is the follow-up to make sure all went well.

Last summer, a ReSurge team went to Vietnam to visit scores of former patients. We wanted to make sure they were healing properly and schedule any follow-up surgeries as necessary. The team lead was Dr. Gloria Sue, the Donald R. Laub fellow and a fourth-year plastic surgery resident at Stanford University. She and Resurge Vietnam manager Hong Han Thu helped organize group visits in Quy Nhon and Quang Ngai.

On the trip, one child in particular caught our eye. Every time the ReSurge team walked around to take pictures, she’d find her way into the shot and give us a  smile. She’d tap us on our shoulders, and when we turned and caught her eye, she’d squeal and duck behind her mother. Then she’d poke her head out and smile shyly, in a simple game of hide-and-seek.

Her sweet nature was all the more remarkable given her family’s history.

Thi is a 6-year-old from a remote mountainous area in Vinh Thanh District, about three hours from Quy Nhon. Her father, a rice farmer, would spend his daily wages on alcohol, leaving the family to beg for food, her mother told us. Two of her three siblings also died in a well a few years ago.

Thi herself was born with a nickel-size hole in her palate. She couldn’t speak and she couldn’t eat, not even soft food. All she could have was milk and water.

When she was 3, ReSurge operated on her cleft. The surgery went so well that she’s been able to take solid food since then. Her speech development was delayed but she’s been working hard to catch up to her classmates.

“She’s so happy the surgery was successful,” her mother told us through an interpreter. “Otherwise I can’t imagine having to feed her baby milk for her whole life.”

To test Thi’s speech, Dr. Sue had her count to ten in Vietnamese. She did so, slowly at first and then with confidence. When she finished, she looked around proudly. The ReSurge team all laughed, and Dr. Sue decided to teach her how to count to ten in English. Thi listened closely, her brow furrowed in concentration. After Dr. Sue got to ten, Thi scampered away.

Minutes later she came back to show us how well she had learned. She counted to 10 in perfect English, holding up her fingers for emphasis. The team applauded her and gave her high-fives.

But then she surprised everyone, including her mother. She looked Dr. Sue in the eye, held up one finger and said, “Mot,” the Vietnamese word for one. Dr. Sue repeated the word. Then Thi continued in the role of teacher, with hai (two), ba (three) and so on. Dr. Sue proved to be just as good a student as Thi had been. After they both said moui (ten), they exchanged a long hug and one last high-five.

Those are the sorts of the encounters that stay with us – the little gestures that mean so much.

ReSurge is excited to go back to Vietnam very soon to help other children like Thi. 

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