Karen Rivera, a young mother of 28 years, tells how her son Matías, with only 2 years, was the victim of second and third-degree burns on his buttocks and thighs, forming a keloid in the groin. After going through serious difficulties, Karen found the solution to her son’s problems at the Fundacion del Quemado, a space that she describes as “a blessing.” Her testimony is a show of courage, effort, dedication and a lot of love.
"I am very grateful for revive my hope"
How did Matías burn?
He was under the care of my mother, who had to leave for a moment and left him in charge of my sister. She, without any intention, left a pot of water with eucalyptus boiling in the middle of a corridor. Then Matías went to the park to play for a while in the patio, near where my sister had left the pot. The boy stumbled and fell, sitting on his back on top of the boiling liquid.
Before arriving at the Fundacion del Quemado, how was Matías?
Both in the physical and psychological part, Matías was very affected because he was hospitalized in the Pediatric Burns Unit of La Misericordia. The process was terrible because he presented a pre-infarct, which further complicated his situation. In addition, healings should be done at least twice a day or each time he went to the bathroom, due to the location of his wounds, and the nurses were not very patient when it came to changing the bandages. For this reason, Matías was very traumatized from that clinic.
And … How did you get to the Foundation?
I remember that 15 days before the accident, my mother attended Cancer Coop since she had undergone an operation after discovering that she had cancer on her skin. After my son burned, he spoke with his doctor, who in turn knew Dr. Monica and she gave us the address of the Foundation. When we arrived, you were in Health Week. Then … they took care of my mother, who had a scar on her arm because of a burn of the past, then they valued Matías and from that moment they immediately began treatment with him.
After you start receiving treatment at the Foundation What was the reaction of Matthias? What things have changed throughout the process?
At first, he did not want to see the doctors, because he was very afraid of what they could do to him because of the trauma he received at La Misericordia. When arriving here, the change was very beautiful for several reasons:
1. The physical care was almost personalized thanks to the availability of doctors to assist you. For example, the physiotherapist had time to first talk to him, take care of him, explain what they were going to do to him, what they did not do in the other hospital. The surgeons, meanwhile, also explained what was happening with him, what the burns were like, what kind of surgeries they had to do in case the scars did not heal properly. So, let’s say, change from the hospital to Foundation was a blessing.
2. Let’s say that he arrived at the precise moment. For the whole family, this situation was very terrible. Matías is the first grandchild and my mother felt guilty for having left him alone. She was impressed to see his injuries. When we left the hospital, we did not put her underwear on because the skin rub made her uncomfortable and sore. We all overprotected him a lot for fear of hurting him. When they arrived at the Foundation, things changed. The help was not only for him but also for us. The doctors taught us many things: they told us that Matías was not the only child burned, that we should not generate in him a disability or a complex, that we should teach him to live his normal life, that is, educate him on how to use his underwear, to inculcate the habit of using his girdle as his scars matured, we taught him to bathe alone and so on. From there, the process was very cool because we all started to work on those aspects with him and with the help of the psychologists and the social work area. We stop taking care of him so much and allow him to live his childhood stage like that of any other person.
3. We reinforced his integrity and his self-esteem to avoid being affected by possible criticism because of his scars. Matías learned to take care of himself and began to change his behavior. Before arriving here, he was super shy, almost did not talk, cried when a strange person approached him, was very dependent on us. When we started the process in the Foundation, he only started to let go a little more, he already did several things on his own like bathing and eating, it was more spacious to talk. Since he came in the door he greeted all the doctors and went up to the second floor to talk to the rest of the staff. Once I asked him what happened to you there? And he told me “I got burned, but it was just an accident and it does not hurt anymore and I know I have to use sashes to heal fast and play football.” The change has been from heaven to earth.
What message do you give to all those people who are currently going through your situation?
I think the advice I can give you is that a burn is not isolated just for children. This can happen at any time, anywhere and in any way. That is why some say that security is better than the police. So, the message is to care for others, take care of ourselves, take care of our children, who are the ones who bear the consequences of our carelessness and prevent this type of problem. Also, I think that this issue of burns should not see it as something distant or alien to us, but see that it is something that can happen to anyone. To all burned people I want to tell you that their scars are not synonymous with discrimination, that does not make you inferior to others. All these difficulties go through something and it helps us to be stronger.
Finally, if you had Dr. Linda, the creator of the Fundacion del Quemado, in front of you, what would you say?
I would tell Dr. Linda that she has a very big heart … [sobs] … Because to think of children, that she does not even know yet, to think of people she has not even seen, that is not what anyone does. The mercy that she has spectacular: to dedicate her time, her career, this space, the markets, the blessings she has with the parties, to summon the other doctors and all of you who work hard for us, all these things that she does to return the happiness to those people who lost it by carelessness is worthy of admiration. I would say that I am very grateful for stoking my hope, for rebuilding my son’s life, for making this country a better place.
Doña Sixta, that’s what we all say in the Foundation. A beautiful woman, with her dark hair, her hands and arms full of war marks and, with a smile on her face; seeing it radiates hope and courage. She is a beautiful example to follow, a woman overwhelming, enterprising and supportive. She is 40 years old and at her young age, he had 5 children. Since she has memory he has dedicated himself to sewing, his greatest passion. She likes watching television, playing with his grandson and making. She has his own workshop in the living room of her house in Ciudadela Sucre, Alto de Cazucá, Soacha. One of her biggest dreams is to enlarge that workshop and continue to give employment to mothers who are the head of the household who need it.
A day like any other, with a blue sky, surrounded by clouds; more exactly on June 8 they cut the gas in their house. She had a gas stove, which she used in situations like that. In this one, he made breakfast and lunch, as usual.
Approximately, at two o’clock in the afternoon, he put on heat the bottle of his grandson Junior and then, to make a coffee. Meanwhile, Doña Sixta sat down to sew and asked her daughter Maria where the child was, but she did not know how to give him a reason. They started calling him and shouting “Junior” however, the boy did not answer.
She stopped, walked to the kitchen and saw the boy who was a meter away from the flame. She took him by the back, with her arms and threw it to her daughter, “Maria take the child.” When she let go of her grandson, she saw a giant flame of fire, the only thing she did was cross her arms, put them in front and cover her face. “Until then I remember,” says Dona Sixta.
They took her to the Hospital Cardiovascular del Niño of Cundinamarca, located in Soacha. On June 9, she was transferred to Hospital Simon Bolívar, where she lived for a month and eight days in an induced coma. When she woke up, she could not talk, her legs were asleep and, even so, she recovered her strength to continue fighting for her family.
But as she herself says, “the opportunity is only once in a lifetime and should be seized”, she knew the Fundacion del Quemado, which has transformed her life. When they passed it to intermediate care, the doctors did therapies because her mouth was closed and they put the plastic mask on her. Doña Sixta, she needed more therapies. But at that time, the Secretariat of the Displaced did not give the authorization to continue with their recovery.
So, the doctor who attended her, gave her the address and phone number of the Foundation, she called to schedule an appointment and gave it to her. Since September she has attended therapies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In these, the doctor, helps her stretch her mouth, massaged her hands, face and arms. “It makes me cry,” says Sixta, amid laughter.
It has been a painful process, with ups and downs, tears and a lot of happiness to see the quick recovery. In the Foundation the specialists have done two surgeries, one in the mouth, which allowed her to speak better. The second was on November 14, on the little finger of her left hand with which she has had more mobility of her fingers.
To continue with the treatment, two days a week, Doña Sixta, comes from Soacha to the Foundation, located in the Las Villas neighborhood.
“I thank God because every day I am better because I do things for myself, I move my hands more (…) and because my grandson did not burn “.
Doña Sixta, she has great appreciation and affection for FQ, since she has been a great help and blessing that has filled her life.
“I come in a private car from a neighbor, I pay him $ 50,000 pesos (…) it’s cheap, he picks me up at home, he waits for me two or three hours of therapy and he takes me back”.
Physically and emotionally it feels good, wanting to get ahead. She is a very strong woman, without fear of anything. When she goes out on the street, she prefers to leave without hats, since she loves herself and says she is beautiful
“I am “berraca” and I will not bow my head to this, saying that if I can (…) I am cute because I am alive and God has me alive is something.”
“It was just an accident, not to blame a person, for me it was an accident, my face was marked, the day I look in the mirror, hear Sixta you so cute. Everything is a question of self-esteem, affection, and love that one has, it only depends on one. “
"The Foundation gives me happiness"
Juan Carlos Viveros
Juan Carlos a 21 year old tells us that at 11 days old his body was burned when a mosquito net was lit. His right arm, his hand and his face were affected. He received his first treatment in Pasto 4 years ago and has had surgeries on his face.
At night I listened to La Mega del Pacífico and stayed late. He listened to Sandra Tellez (patient of the Fundación del Quemado), who had a similar accident and left the mail. He contacted her and obtained the numbers of the Foundation. They put everything together to come to Bogota to have surgery on their right arm with the Foundation.
Juan Carlos says that when he arrived at the foundation in September 2015, he received good treatment and was happy. All the staff was very friendly and the collaboration of each of the employees that make up the Foundation was amazing. He also met people who had suffered burns like his.
“The Foundation is responsible for giving happiness to a person, a way of supporting those who do not have the resources to improve a burn. Seeks to help everyone without anything in return. To improve my face and my arm is to improve my life. It is a family where you feel good, no rejections and treats you well. “
Juan Carlos, after having a difficult youth and being displaced by the paramilitaries, decides to join God and is currently part of a prayer group and also works as a courier in one of the most dangerous red zones in the country.
“Life is very beautiful but you have to live with the Lord because apart from Him we are nobody, we are nothing, we can have everything but if we are not with Christ we are empty. The material is not enough for us. All this will later happen. In this world, you suffer but you also enjoy yourself. “
"The Foundation is my second Home"
Junior Alfredo Rodríguez Sánchez
Junior Alfredo Rodríguez Sánchez, a 25-year-old Social Communication student who loves soccer, tells how his face burned when he was 5 years old.
“I burned myself with gasoline. That night my mother was sick, my father had to make food. I was too hungry and my dad did not want to give me food. It was dark and I lit the match and the gallon of gasoline was open and I was dripping with gasoline. When the match was turned on, the tank was lit around the stove. My father reacted and ran away. Then he returned, took me out and started with a sheet to take my fire “.
After burning his face, Junior began to undergo surgery at the Hospital Simon Bolivar. Years later he met the Fundacion del Quemado. He was one of the first patients to be taken care of by the Foundation.
“One as a patient is very shy. One arrives with a lot of insecurity. The sequels do not only mark one physically but they separate it or prohibit it from many things. The stigma itself is created “.
After undergoing multiple surgeries to rebuild his face and body, Junior feels very satisfied and grateful for the help provided by the Foundation to improve his physical appearance and to get ahead.
“The Foundation is my second home, it has meant a great help for my future. They have helped me to fulfill my goals, to grow as a person and to become aware. Enriching the experiences of other people who have suffered burns is, without a doubt, an experience of life. Today I work for the Foundation and I feel very grateful to them”.
Junior concludes by saying that his work as a messenger of the Foundation makes him very happy and helps him fulfill his dream of studying Social Communication at Uniminuto University. He also says that Dr. Linda is a person with a very big heart and is a true example to follow.