The foundation says that every year, 3.2% of South Africa's population is affected by burns; 60% of these cases are children.
According to the foundation, this high occurrence of burn injuries is because of socioeconomic factors like lack of electricity and inadequate housing. Many major burn incidents are because of shack fires that are often caused by paraffin stoves or fires and candles.
During National Burns Awareness Month, Smile Foundation says that it has successfully raised awareness around the seriousness and prevention of burns, in honour of those who have been affected by this national public health problem.
Over and above its memorable burns awareness safety drive, its efforts have continued in raising funds to support various projects that will help bring burn expertise and specialised care to children, whose families could not otherwise afford it.
According to the foundation, there are many children that Smile Foundation endeavours to help by sponsoring an additional operating theatre list once a month at Greys Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. This will help in grafting up to 80 children per year and alleviate some of the delays in accessing surgery for burn injuries.
To further efforts to help burn survivors in need, Smile Foundation — through the backing of sponsors — is supporting the renovation of the burns unit at Kimberley's Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital. It is also assisting with the fundraising for the building of the first-ever Burns Unit at Greys Hospital.
On its completion, Greys' new Burns Unit aims to be an institution for training that will encourage more doctors, nurses and other professionals to become part of this sector that is largely lacking in professional resources.
In support of burn survivors and their families affected by the trauma of burns injuries, the Smile Foundation — together with Avela Foundation — also runs U Matter. This is a parent and peer support group for burn survivors and their families in South Africa.
U Matter aims to create positive experiences to build self-esteem, inspire dreams and help families heal by way of mothers of burns survivors who share their own stories and offer immense hope.
Burn survivors and their families are also provided with emotional and psychological support by clinical psychologists that Smile Foundation works with on an ongoing basis.
To join Smile Foundation in its efforts to help children suffering from burns and other facial abnormalities, individuals are encouraged to make a donation on the foundation's website.
For more information, visit www.smilefoundation.org
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