Helping Children Prevent Burns
A few years ago, entertainers and medical professionals in China created the China Social Welfare Foundation's Burn Care Public Welfare Fund. It aims to encourage the public to participate in preventing thermal burns and reducing their occurrence in China.
This is great. Haha!” “It resembles a real house.” “Children are sure to like it.” Sunlight shines through the windows and a warm replica of a house. Staff members at the Aiwuhen Burn Rehabilitation and Care Centre hovered around the replica, with big smiles on their faces. People eagerly looked at the house as if they could see their future children inside.
The replica is known as “A Children-friendly and Safe Experience Space.” It is five metres long and three metres wide and was first showcased at the China International Maternal and Child Health Expo 2017. It was popular with the kids and helped them learn a lot about thermal burns and included experience-based activities.
About 26 million people suffer from various degrees of burns each year in China, 30 percent of which are children. If the burns are not treated quickly and appropriately, the consequences can be very serious. Entertainers and medical professionals created the China Social Welfare Foundation's Burn Care Public Welfare Fund to help decrease their rate of incidence. It aims at encouraging the public to be more aware about burns and burned children and to treat symptoms more professionally. Although the Burn Care Public Welfare Fund encountered many difficulties, it has also been supported by people from all walks of life. Medical experts joined the team and movie stars served as ambassadors. The fund has supported the Aiwuhen Burn Rehabilitation and Care Centre. It established an executive team to organise 50 social groups from China's 26 provinces to form a voluntary alliance. The Beijing Women's Federation greatly supports the Aiwuhen Burn Rehabilitation and Care Centre. It has established a female volunteer group and provided various platforms and resources. Everyone involved with the fund has the same goal: “One Fewer Burned Child, One More Happy Family.” Treating thermal burns is part of professional medicine, but this area of prevention and treatment has received much less attention than many other problems. This does not mean that they are not important and unworthy of attention though. Li Xuesong is an official from an office that is responsible for social work in the Beijing Women's Federation and understands this very well.
The office was established in 2010. Its purpose is to integrate Beijing's social organisations to provide professional and long-term services for women, children and families in Beijing. After its team members visited public, nonprofit organisations that are devoted to preventing burns in Taiwan in 2013, they found that a prevention campaign has been implemented in nurseries and primary schools. Information about basic first aid for thermal burns has taken root among the public for more than 10 years. The campaign has greatly reduced the number of burned patients.
In 2016, the Beijing Women's Federation began to promote Yijiaxing (“Benefitting Families,” a public welfare project). The Burn Care Public Welfare Fund enrolled in the project during its online recruitment phase. In Li's eyes, although the Burn Care Public Welfare Fund implemented just a few projects in communities, she thought the organisation would play a big role in promoting the prevention of burns. She decided to meet the head of the fund. Coincidentally, key executives Zhang Daiyu and Tang Jing recently visited Taiwan to learn about their prevention efforts and decided to participate. This helped improve Beijing's engagement in this area and also led to cooperation between the Beijing Women's Federation and the fund.
The cooperation between the Beijing Women's Federation and various social organisations provides a big range of possibilities in the implementation of public welfare projects. The federation recommended the “Benefitting Families” project and officials from Beijing's districts and
‘Dreaming That There Will No Longer Be Burn Victims in Hospitals Some Day’ Working Together Towards a Great Goal
communities to the Burn Care Public Welfare Fund. In 2017, the Beijing Women's Federation invited the Burn Care Public Welfare Fund to conduct the “Tangtang xiaoguaishou” (“Hot Little Monster,” an interactive activity) during training classes for officials from the city's women's federations from the district and community levels, which was expected to be introduced in communities as it was considered a significant activity among the trainees. The managerial and promotional experience of the Burn Care Public Welfare Fund was relatively inadequate because it only existed for a short time. To improve the planning, promotion and implementation of the fund's projects, the Beijing Women's Federation invited its executives to participate in the federation's training classes and the government agencies' other training activities.
According to the Outline of Health China 2030 Plan released in 2016, medium and long-term development plans regarding health care in the country have been put forward for the first time. General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xi Jinping stressed, “there is no prosperous society without universal health care,” emphasising people's health. China is a large country and has a population of over 1.3 billion people. On May 21, 2018, the Burn Care Public Welfare Fund launched the Preventing Thermal Burns across China Project to help parents and their children learn about how to prevent from burns and learn more about first aid. The goal is “Reducing the incidence of Children who Suffer from Thermal Burns in China.” The project features the “One Fewerburned Child, One More Happy Family” slogan. The Aiwuhen Burn Rehabilitation and Care Centre's female volunteer group is supported by the Beijing Women's Federation. It promotes burn prevention, including teaching children how to keep away from “A Hot, Little Monster,” in the city's communities, schools and nurseries.
The Beijing Women's Federation recommended China Social Welfare Foundation's Burn Care Public Welfare Fund, which was initiated by Hu Yajie and his wife Tang Jing, to the 2018 China Charity Awards. On September 13, the fund won the top award. Zhou Dan, one of the fund's main leaders, almost never speaks publicly but plays a major role in operating the fund. He has been declared a “March Eighth Red Banner Pacesetter” by the Beijing Women's Federation.
Li Xuesong stated excitedly: “The Beijing Women's Federation is in charge of more than 20 social organisations but only recommended the Burn Care Public Welfare Fund, which is not led by the federation, to the 2018 China Charity Awards, because we think the fund's initiative is significant. The federation will continue to support burn prevention and provide resources for it. We hope this public welfare project will be supported by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education and burn prevention will be integrated into classrooms. I hope there are no thermal burn patients in China's hospitals some day. This is a great goal.”
There is a story about Bian Que (407– 310 BC) and his brothers in Heguanzi (a book about Taoism). The book states: “One day during the Warring States Period (475–221 BC), the king of the State of Wei asked Dr. Bian Que who was the best doctor among the Bian Three. Bian Que said his elder brother was better than him and his eldest brother was the best among the three. The king wondered why Bian Que was the most famous. Bian Que thought his eldest brother is working on preventing future diseases and many people do not know that is working with prevention. Thus, his fame cannot spread and only our family members know about it. My elder brother cures diseases when they are just beginning to develop. Most people think he can only cure minor illnesses and his fame only spreads in our hometown. Bian Que said he usually treats patients who suffer from serious diseases. People saw that he performs operations to treat patients. Thus, they think he is a remarkable doctor and he is well known across the country.”
The story illuminates a truth. Remedial actions are not as good as taking measures to prevent risks from the beginning. Many people neglect to prevent crises before they emerge though, which can lead to serious blunders. An old Chinese saying goes, “it's too late to mend a sheepfold after the sheep are lost.” Tang Jing once said: “When you see a child who is mangled beyond recognition because of burns, hear their miserable crying and face his or her parents who may feel helpless and get stuck in a desperate situation, you are sure to understand why I want to be engaged in promoting a public welfare project designed to prevent burns.”
One day in September 2014, famous Chinese actor Hu Yajie and his wife Tang Jing were invited by Dr. Sun Bianyou, who is one of their close friends, to visit his hospital. Hu said he would never forget the shocking scene they saw at the hospital. “When I entered the hospital, I was shocked by many patients, including adults and children, who were crowded in the hall. Most of the patients were children accompanied by their parents. The patients had thick red flesh in varying degrees on their heads, faces, necks, legs and hands. Dr. Sun told me the thick red flesh was scarred hyperplasia caused by burning. To my surprise, some parents kept patting their children's bodies while tightly holding their children's hands because the burn scars are so itchy that their children cannot stand them. The burns shouldn't be scratched because it will affect their treatment. When I looked at them, I was very distressed. I came up with an idea about what I can do for them.”
Burn scars are described as “a terrible cancer” by medical experts. Burn patients may have to suffer for the rest of their lives. The scars can grow thicker over time and even disable them. Burns can bring serious physical or psychological harm to patients. Thermal burns are preventable though. If we take measures to teach first aid and to prevent them, tragedy can be lessened and avoided.
Treating burns can take a while and be expensive. Families have been pushed into poverty overnight because of their high cost of treatment. There are a variety of tragedies in the world. Hu Yajie and his wife realised that burns are preventable, however, and decided to establish a non-profit organisation to help burn patients and educate the public about burns. In 2014, the Burn Care Public Welfare Fund was established and Hu's friends, medical experts and other volunteers joined it.
From 2014 to 2015, the fund's major leaders visited more than 20 medical experts to learn about burns and completed an investigation report about the status of more than 600 burn patients after visiting some hospitals, such as the People's Liberation Army Air Force General Hospital. The fund has a pragmatic style and careful attitude and has been recognised by medical experts. The fund's committee of experts is composed of thirty-two treatment experts, psychologists and public welfare promoters who support the project.
Chinese Academy of Engineering Academician Sheng Zhiyong, who is also a thermal burn expert, once told the leaders of the fund: “More than one million yuan is required to treat someone who is 80-90 percent covered with burns. And what will happen after that? It will benefit the public if your
‘The Story of Bian Three’ Burn Prevention Ideas Originated from a Visit
organisation begins to promote thermal burn prevention.” According to the UN, seven years after an educational programme covering burn prevention for children was carried out in Norway, the rate of incidence declined dramatically, falling to less than half of what it was before the programme.
Inspired by Sheng's words, the leaders of the fund decided to focus on promotion of thermal burn prevention, while furthering its aid for burned children and adults, including physical and psychological rehabilitation. The fund began to cooperate with non-profit organisations for thermal burn prevention in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom to introduce their advanced burn prevention courses for children and rehabilitation courses and psychological support for burned patients.
With their resources and the help of the expert committee, the fund launched the Aiwuhen programme to promote thermal burn prevention and reduce the incidence of thermal burns in China.
Under the guidance of experts, the fund developed “The Keeping away from a Hot, Little Monster” project for children. It combines five first aid steps for treating burns with interesting, interactive, scientific activities using textbooks, videos and “a safe room for keeping away from a Hot, Little monster.” The fund also produced the Pipi de gushi ( A Story about Pipi) cartoon, the “Yuanli tangtang xiaoguaishou” (“Keep away from a Hot, Little Monster”) song and the Tangtang xiaoguaishou
( Hot, Little Monster) play.
Hu Yajie said: “The story about the Bian Three has spread till this day, enabling people to understand that prevention is the greatest contribution to public health. Burns have been greatly reduced in Taiwan due to the promotion of their prevention in recent years. We created our own textbooks with local characteristics based on ideas that have been used in Taiwan. Ideas related to burn prevention can be passed down through generations. Our generation and the following generations must strive to carry out this good cause!” Although the fund started late, it has developed rapidly. Its team members have made painstaking efforts. Broader support from the public helps them overcome difficulties.
Early in its existence, there were some problems. Tang Jing and Zhang Daiyu, the wives of the fund's initiators Hu Yajie and Sun Bianyu, played major roles in running the fund. Under the influence of the two women, Zhou Dan, one of their close friends, also joined the fund. The three women from well-off families decided to carry out this good cause. They established the Aiwuhen Women Volunteer Group. According to some of its members: “Most of the fund's team members are women. As a Chinese saying goes, women hold up half the sky. Women are also half of the earth.”
Zhang Daiyu treated burns professionally before joining the fund. She applies her knowledge to preventing them and the fund's other goals. When Tang Jing was young, she performed wudan (an actress playing a martial role) roles in Peking Opera and later worked in the film and television industry. She also ran her own business. After working with the burn prevention fund, she stated: “It is the most stimulating work I have ever done. I did not feel tired every day. I am lucky to be able to participate in this
‘A Significant Public Welfare Project’ Women Members Holding up Half the Sky
meaningful cause, even though I am over 50. Last year we invited a child who had been burned and was aided by the fund to take part in the shooting of a video about thermal burn prevention. Though he suffered from serious burns at the age of six, he was still optimistic and lively and could imitate Guo Degang (a famous crosstalk comedian). We were touched by the child's vitality at that time. Last year, he was in the fourth grade. His eyes were completely dull, and we could not recognise him. I chatted with his mother and told her that she has a great child. He could bravely stand in front of a video camera to help people learn more about burns. His contributions are significant and valuable to society. His mother helped explain my remarks to the child, and his lively state came back.”
As a close friend of Zhang Daiyu, Zhou Dan was very interested in the charitable fund for burn prevention that Zhang and other people established. Zhou was once engaged in editing children's books and running an agency for promoting business brands. Zhou suggested that the fund needed a logo. She designed one featuring a circle and curves centring on a heart shape. Zhou explained: “The project was initiated by doctors and entertainers to help burned people and prevent burns. This care and benevolence requires the participation of many people. I joined the fund because of the logo.” Zhou also participated in designing “a Hot, Little Monster,” “Pipi, a Small Superhero” and other characters that connect with children and their level of development. Zhou stated: “We need to provide materials that are easily understood by the children to help them learn.”
As a Chinese saying goes, three women can play a drama. But if three women form a team to work together, they can generate enormous energies. For thermal burn prevention, one of the best places for publicising the idea is schools and nurseries because its main target population is children. However, at the beginning, the attempt of publicising their idea suffered big resistance in schools and nurseries. They had to communicate with schools by using their own methods. Later they got to know Professor Mao Zhenming from Beijing Normal University, who has been an expert on children's development and safety after he studied physical education in Japan. Professor Mao learned about the fund and told Tang and Zhang that Beijing Normal University developed 96 safety classes for children but none of them have detailed contents like their project based on the ways children like to learn. Mao wondered if the Beijing Normal University invested to introduce some schools for opening the fund's courses of thermal burn prevention.
Zhang emotional recalled: “This was a rare opportunity for the fund. At the beginning of 2016, we developed a thermal burn prevention project, which was introduced into a primary school in a rural area in Henan Province in November. In April 2017, Professor Mao came into our organisation to listen to our report and decided to introduce schools in Beijing to us. We think this is a good promotion, helping us develop from a high starting point.” One of the staff members in the fund said: “They quit their jobs and do the public welfare project. What they do is admirable. They go forth to carry out the project with neglecting no detail. ” One tree does not make a forest. The fund overcame many obstacles and won a bright future. How to cultivate in
‘Seeds for Promoting Burn Prevention’ Gathering Resources around the Country
this hopeful land is a problem needing to be solved. Though the road ahead for doing public welfare is difficult and full of challenges, with this warm inspiration, the fund gathers more public-spirited persons to create a favourable environment to help more needy people.
The fund established the Aiwuhen Burn Rehabilitation and Care Centre on June 27, 2016 to carry out “The Keeping away from a Hot, Little Monster” project across the country. Over the past two years, its team members have visited 305 schools to train 2,300 mentors and benefit more than 50,000 children. They know that this is far from enough though. Even the strongest team can be overwhelmed when facing the entire country and its vast geography. Moreover, burn prevention is often neglected in daily life, because many people think that this kind of accident will never happen to them.
Zhou mentioned: “We cannot do this alone. We are the seeds for promoting ideas about burn prevention. We have selected 50 public welfare organisations to form an alliance across 26 provinces throughout the country. We raise money for these organisations to carry out our projects. Only understanding first aid treatment concepts for thermal burns and prevention ideas can help to improve the situation and help people be more aware.”
The 50 public welfare organisations use specific actions to influence people and try to raise awareness about burn prevention around the country. Zhang elaborated: “We are very impressed by our team members. Some of them taught thermal burn prevention classes in remote mountainous areas, carrying textbooks and teaching aids. Some rural primary schools have limited resources and may even lack a screen for projectors to watch videos on. Our team members had to work with students to make a curtain using the materials that were at hand to ensure the children could receive lively and interesting courses. A woman named Pan Yu is one of our volunteers in Hebei Province's Gu'an County. She used her spare time to teach burn prevention classes in villages. First, she needed to train teachers. After a class, a teacher asked if she could teach it at a village, where her parents live. After that, someone requested that Pan teach it in a village where her mother-in-law lives. Pan was never bored and began to travel from one place to another to volunteer more and more.”
Teng Changbo is part of a volunteer association that supports education in Chongqing Muncipality. He has been engaged in public welfare for more than 10 years and has a wealth of experience planning and operating public welfare projects.
In 2017, Zhang and Tang went to Chongqing to visit him and exchange ideas about burn prevention.
Teng said: “I felt the team members worked with their hearts and really helped children. There are so many burned children in China. They are very poor, but most of the tragedies could have been prevented. This project has not been done before. If it can help 50,000 children prevent burns each year, it will be a good reduction. Social organisations can help alleviate social problems. We promote burn prevention in China, especially for children. That's why I wanted to join it. I have carried out public welfare projects for more than 10 years. I was glad to find this project, and I must support it. If the project wants to be long-term, we must run it according to a certain framework. That way the fund can manage the project and allow qualified social organisations to implement it, which will ensure that it can be carried out around the country.”
With the participation and support of many public-spirited people, a larger and more efficient public welfare alliance has formed. Fifty non-governmental public welfare organisations joined the cause of thermal burn prevention in a package structure. A package means 1,000 children. There are 50 organisations nationwide, which can spread the idea of thermal burn prevention to 50,000 children if they each carry out one package. Teng also drafted a set of standards for the project and designed a management platform for the burn prevention welfare project.
Teng began to play a role in supervising the project when the
platform was ready. He checks gaps in the implementation of the project, monitors deficiencies in the platform and fixes them in a timely manner. He explained: “As the designer of the platform, I must be involved in its operation and find problems. It is not always easy to establish the credibility of social organisations. We can't allow small problems to get in the way. The fund not only promotes national burn prevention but also advances the development of social organisations across the country.” Many people think that burns are far away from their lives and neglect this possible injury. Thermal burns are like a devil that lurks people's lives and will exert destructive power in their physical and mental health if they ignore it. If more than 10 percent of someone's body is burned, he or she will need to receive treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU). Ten percent of one's body (about an area of 10 palms) sounds like a relatively small area, but it may be life-threatening. Having more than 10 percent of one's body covered in burns can be considered “hell on earth.”
Many people have devoted themselves to helping to prevent burns and stuck with it because they have seen horrific scenes of burned patients in ICUS, a fate worse than death.”
A public-spirited person who visited the Southwest Hospital, which contains China's largest burn unit, recalled his experience with lingering fear: “In the hospital's inpatient wards for people who have been burned, we can see horrible, heartbreaking and thoughtprovoking scenes. Burned patients were almost naked and their injured areas were hung up to keep them away from other parts of their body. The pain of burns can be unbearable when someone is awake. Adults in the ICU cried out in pain. Physiological pain and psychological fears can be unendurable for children. Many burned children can have issues with post traumatic stress disorder. When I went into the inpatient wards, I had a strong feel for what hell on earth is like.”
Zhang Daiyu was once a medical expert who treated burns. Over the decades, she has seen negative changes in many children's lives and in their families as a result of burns. She once aided a child for half a month. The child never dared to look at Zhang during this period. When the gaze of the two finally met, Zhang saw a pair of frightened eyes. She said with emotion: “We should take actions to prevent burns and reduce children's suffering. After seeing hell on earth, many people will be depressed, which is called an alternative trauma. My husband has also been engaged in treating thermal burns for many years. Doctors are looking forward to better preventing burns and helping more burned patients. They not only save their patients but also help themselves. We are doing a very meaningful thing. Doctors in Southeast Asia, Europe and North America have already carried out these kinds of projects. We started recently and must further our work as soon as possible. Instead of simply promoting burn prevention, we are dealing with an issue of keeping children away from this hell. Each of us has a social role and can spread information about burn prevention. Anyone who knows anything about it should have an obligation to promote it. We hope that the public can support our work and that schools can open their gates to our team members.”
Creating a beautiful China is part of the Chinese dream. If every family is beautiful, China will be beautiful, and society will be harmonious. Burn prevention is important for every family. Over the past four years, the Burn Care Public Welfare Fund has worked to implement the “One Fewer Burned Child, One More Happy Family” idea. We are in the initial stages. Our work must continue. Our goal is to help Chinese children learn basic first aid about thermal burns and not suffer from burns. According to traditional Chinese culture, “love is invisible, and true water is not fragrant.” In the context of the “new era, new mission and new standard of public welfare,” the fund leads many public-spirited people to dedicate themselves to the mission of burn prevention using scientific educational methods to help create beautiful families and realise the Chinese dream.
‘One Fewer Burned Child, One More Happy Family’ Creating Beautiful Families
China Social Welfare Foundation’s Burn Care Public Welfare Fund educates students.
Preventing Thermal Burns across China Project was launched on May 21, 2018.
A teacher explains how to prevent burns.
The fund works with children in rural areas.
The fund creates printed materials about burn prevention.
Putting together teaching aids covering burn prevention
Children read a book about burn prevention.