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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-4

Israel burn camp visit: Reflections and reactions

1 Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Jupiter Hospital, National Burns Center, Co-Editor, Indian Journal of Burns
2 Department of Plastic, Reconstructive Surgery and Burns, Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication13-May-2013

Correspondence Address:
N Venkateshwaran
Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Jupiter Hospital, National Burns Center, Co-Editor, Indian Journal of Burns

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-653X.111771

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How to cite this article:
Venkateshwaran N, Puri V. Israel burn camp visit: Reflections and reactions. Indian J Burns 2012;20:3-4

How to cite this URL:
Venkateshwaran N, Puri V. Israel burn camp visit: Reflections and reactions. Indian J Burns [serial online] 2012 [cited 2023 Jun 8];20:3-4. Available from: https://www.ijburns.com/text.asp?2012/20/1/3/111771

Burns as we all know too well, scars the body and the mind. The painful and often invasive care a burn victim receives is equal to if not more than the physical trauma of suffering the burn itself. These problems are compounded in children in whom the basic foundations of social adjustment are ill laid down. It wreaks havoc on the victims' self-image, confidence, interactions, and personality. [1] After the burn victim fights for his or her life during their treatment in the hospital and is discharged to face the world with his/her disabilities and scars, we surgeons divert our full attention and talent toward saving the next burn patient, unwittingly leaving the survivor to face his/her fate without preparing them for it. Surgeons in middle and low income countries like ours have enough on our hands trying to juggle available time and resources to meet the relentless waves of disease battering the shores of our hospitals. Treating the victims' psychological scars and giving social rehabilitation seem a far cry and is really low on our list of priorities. So who is to blame for this lapse of attention, this seemingly casual neglect? Is there some way we can make amends and strive toward completing the circle of care for burn victims? A burn camp appears to offer the very panacea we seek.

Organization of burn camps as a part of the rehabilitation process of a burn survivor is a well known, well accepted and evidence backed technique. [2],[3] A plethora of information is available on the internet regarding the organization and conduct of such camps. [4],[5],[6],[7],[8] We had the opportunity of visiting one such camp in Israel held for child burn survivors between the ages of 7 and 14 organized by an American organization called Burn Advocates Network. The purpose of the visit was to study the manpower, resources, and logistics involved in an effort of this kind so as to consider organizing the first of these kinds of camps in India with their help.

First and foremost, there has to be a belief in the cause and empathy toward the mental suffering of these patients. Surgeons may often think that only an operative camp is worth spending money and time in a country like ours. Sadly, the same attitude may be shared by the patient's relatives. This thinking needs to change. Secondly, there is a need for a dedicated and sincere team who are willing to take responsibility for the safe conduct of the camp. Last but not the least, funding and infrastructure play a key role for realization of these plans. All the requirements were met in good measure at Camp Sababa, Israel's annual child burn survivor camp now into its fifth year. The occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and child psychology team of Schneider's Children's Medical Center play a crucial role in the tracing and counseling of patients and parents regarding the need for their child to attend the camp. They also share the sole responsibility for the safety of the child until the camp ends. The camp was conducted for 4 days, at the Jordan River Valley Foundation, a state of the art center built for the sole purpose of conducting recreational camps for children with various medical conditions. At Camp Sababa, the children were taught to handle a variety of activities ranging from simple tasks like bed making to complex physical exercises like tree plantation, rock climbing, horse riding etc. The highlights of the camp were voluntary visits by role model personalities like foresters, top chefs, make up professionals, musicians, and a 70% TBSA burn survivor who is now a survivor skills trainer in the army (the phenomenal story of whose recovery and courage can inspire the most pessimistic of souls). The children attending the camp showed good improvement in communication skills, team activity, self-confidence, and blended well despite the diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.

Which brings us back to the moot point; does India need a camp like this? Despite the uphill tasks of contact tracing (nonexistent records), fund raising, not having a designated camp site, fears of safety at overnight camps, uneducated parents, and religious limitations, we believe it does. For the survivors it is an absolute win-win situation. Also, the surgeons and therapists who spend every waking moment treating and operating burn victims here have a chance to see the same children in all their innocence as just that - "children," and not as patients or cases. We get a second chance to treat their scars, only this time it's not the physical ones. This may give many of us the closure we seek and act as a balm on our troubled consciences.

We hope we can conduct a similar camp in India successfully and are open to positive inputs from the burns fraternity as a whole, be it in the form of ideas, volunteers, sponsors, prospective campers or just plain good vibes and blessings! Godspeed to the venture!

  References Top

1.De Sousa A. Psychological aspects of paediatric burns (A Clinical Review). Ann Burns Fire Disasters 2010;23:155-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Doctor ME. Burn camps and community aspects of burn care. J Burn Care Rehabil 1992;13:68-76.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Rimmer RB, Fornaciari GM, Foster KN, Bay CR, Wadsworth MM, Wood M, et al. Impact of a pediatric residential burn camp experience on burn survivors' perceptions of self and attitudes regarding the camp community. J Burn Care Res 2007;28:334-41.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Available from: http://www.iaburncamps.org [Last accessed on 2013 Mar 14].  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Available from: http://www.britishburnassociation.org/burn-camps [Last accessed on 2013 Mar 14].  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Available from: http://www.childrensburnfoundationoffl.com [Last accessed on 2013 Mar 14].  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Available from: http://noordinarycamps.org [Last accessed on 2013 Mar 14].  Back to cited text no. 7
8.How to organise burn camps, clubs and other support programmes for Burn survivors. Available from: http://www.euroburn.org/userfiles/users/36/pdf/guidelines/BCC_How_to_organise_July11.pdf [Last accessed on 2013 Mar 14].  Back to cited text no. 8

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