Brave faces of burn survivors
EMOTIONAL relief was brought to the lives of 16 young burn survivors at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein this week.
The youngsters in the National Burn Association of South Africa (NBASA) group are mainly from Orange Farm and other areas in Joburg.
In rehearsal for an "industrial" production about a burn survivor, the young victims took the stage to act out scenes that affected them personally as part of a two-day theatre camp in conjunction with a rehabilitation programme.
The programme includes counselling, workshops and skills and self-development, spearheaded by Pilisiwe Twala-Tau, executive director of the Johannesburg community development department.
One of NBASA's ambassadors and burn survivor Phindile Mokoena, 27, has lived with a scarred face and body most of her life and has been part of the organisation since 2007.
She also works with "Youth on Fire", a pilot project in the Orange Farm area.
Mokoena only recalls that she was living with her two siblings in a rural area in their grandmother's house after her death. She was sleeping when the fire started and her siblings tried waking her up but failed. They got away in time and her uncle saved her from the fire.
Though she thought she had gotten over the pain and wounds, Mokoena admits it is difficult to brush off the effects. "I have anger that I don't know where it comes from. I thought I was over it but it keeps haunting me as I grow."
Mokoena's experiences with friendships and relationships are two-sided.
"I make friends easily because I'm very talkative, although I do weigh out their personalities before I get close. In relationships I have issues with myself which lead to me leaving most of the time," she said.
NBASA strategy director Colin Lee said that the activity was part of the beginning of a support group that evolves over a year.
This leads to the development of self-help groups, such as an entrepreneurial programme that trains and places survivors in franchises where they sell products related to fire and educate people about safety.