We first introduced you to Clara and Minashe in January, and told you the story of how a $1000 donation turned into a $100 000 donation of treatment for the girls. The following is a more detailed account of the girls’ story, and includes an update on how Clara and Minashe are doing and the treatment they have received so far.
Warning – the following post contains graphic images that may be upsetting to some people. Please view at your discretion.
In August last year, Watson, Norman’s head gardener (Norman is Susan’s brother) went to Norman with a very sad story about two little girls, Clara, 8 and Minashe, 12. They were squatting with their family adjacent to the Lion and Cheetah Park, Lake Chivero, Harare. The girls had recently been discharged from the Parenyatwa Hospital where they had been minimally treated for nine months, suffering from severe burns. The shack they had been living in caught fire and they were barely pulled out alive.
They were sent “home” extremely disfigured, disabled and each blind in one eye. They had been allowed to leave without any ointment for their suppurate lesions, no pain killers, nor any form of medication at all. When they returned to school the other children ran away from them screaming , their friends did not recognize them. Minashe is an orphan and lives with her cousin Clara under the care of Clara’s parents, who are unemployed and have no means of supporting their family.
Norman went to see the girls and, taken by their plight, he decided to take them under his wing to try to give them back a normal life. Initially he moved them into a bedroom on his property under the supervision of his maid, Patricia, and her daughter Jackie who is the same age as Minashe. They suddenly had proper beds to sleep in, meals, medication, hot and cold showers, and electricity (when it is available in Zimbabwe!).
It was abundantly clear that a lot of medical treatment was required and not available in Zimbabwe, so would have to be sought elsewhere. This was when the first major obstacle presented itself – the girls had no birth certificates (Minashe did not even know when she was born), no identity papers, and no passports.
Through an introduction to Father Fidelis we were able to take the girls to meet him at Chishawa Seminary. Father Fidelis has done a lot of work with Human Rights and knew exactly where to go and whom to see – a miracle in itself. On Monday Father Fidelis went to see the Registrar General in Harare who was so taken by the predicament of the girls that he requested to meet them the next day.
On Tuesday morning Norman took the girls and family with Father Fidelis to meet the Registrar. He called in his staff and issued instructions to “Do It”, leaving no stone unturned. Within 14 days our family had birth certificates, IDs and our two girls Zimbabwe Passports – a second miracle.
We were ready to go for treatment but where?
Moira (Susan’s sister-in-law) who lives in Zimbabwe was in Johannesburg with her daughter and grandson, who was there for treatment as he had also been badly burned. Moira asked his Doctor questions and was given the name of a hospital that might be able to help. Moira contacted ‘The Children of Fire’ and they agreed to look at the case.
After copious correspondence the hospital informed us that they would admit Clara and Minashe on the 14th of January, 2013. The South African Embassy were extremely helpful and issued the girls each a 12-month Medical Visa.
South African Airways were wonderful and granted the girls a free flight from Harare to Johannesburg.
On Monday, January 14th, 2013 Moira accompanied the girls (she had to pay her own way) to South Africa where they were admitted at The Children of Fire Hospital.
Clara and Minashe are living in a house close to the hospital with 15 other burn victim children, two of whom are blind. These children are receiving private schooling which involves some fees.
Moira has just returned from Johannesburg and reports that the girls loved the flight but found the toilet a bit scary – the sucking noise it makes when you flush was new to them! They love school, all the lessons are in English and they have made friends with some of the other patients.
The Children of Fire Hospital medical care is given freely with the surgeons donating their expertise and time. They have been assessed by the Professor of Plastic Surgery of South Africa and we await his decisions on the future operating procedures. They will also be seen by an Ophthalmic Surgeon regarding their blind eye.
Minashe has had her first operation: a skin graft on her one eye that was not able to close and another on her leg. Clara had the same operation on Monday the 4th of February. Further operations will be done as and when beds are available.
Special thanks to Norman Conlon, Father Fedilis, The Registrar General and his staff, The South African Embassy, South African Airways, The Children of Fire Hospital and staff, and our donor that made this possible.