24th May 2017 4:28:24 AM

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Jose Mvula



Jose was happy to demonstrate for the journalists, that after surgery on both arms in South Africa, she can write well. And that she has retained her ability to speak, read and write in English.
She said softly to Tristan: "I wish I could come back to live at Children of Fire."



Jose was rather overcome by all the attention when Tristan arrived with other burns survivors and new ChiFi helper Samukelo Ndlovu (green Tshirt) and a television crew. Only off-camera did her radiant smile emerge at news that her friends in South Africa had not forgotten her, that they were sending her story books, eye patches and eye gel.



Tristan Jones chose to help Jose out of 200 children.
On 24th March 2013 he visited her at her home on the edge of Kinshasa, DRC after visiting Fursy Mugobe in Macampagne and Ado in Kingasani Township.
Congolese television came too, to film the success of reconstructive surgery that allows Jose to use both her arms now.



Jose just after the Easter Egg hunt on 8th April 2012, with some of her friends.



Jose having fun in the sea at East London's Orion Beach, South Africa, in late September 2011-10-16



After 11 months in our care, Jose was pleased in July 2011 to finally have visitors from the DRC who are friends of her mother's. She spoke to her family on the cell phone.





The surgery on Jose's right eye's eyelids and the left arm in 2010 were both successful and there were no complications. The eyelid which was previously inside out has now been restored and her eye is not as exposed as it was for the previous five years.
At some point an ophthalmologist would like attempt a corneal graft to try to improve vision in that eye. In late May 2011 that eye still did not close fully, especially when she was asleep.

As a temporary measure we could fit a Scleral Shell; this is almost like a contact lens which could make the eye look better and improve tear function, mostly to help with her self-esteem.

Jose's right arm was operated on successfully at Netcare's Sunninghill Hospital by Dr Martin Kelly and colleagues. From the arm being fixed rigid in a v-shape for five years, it has now extended to a position of about 135 degrees by a combination of surgery and regular physiotherapy, thermoplastic splinting, occupational therapy and pressure garments. Thanks for all the help from Garden City physios, Janet Fletcher at Milpark, and others.

Jose needs a wrist contracture release, lots more physio and serial splinting, and surgery inside her eye.





Jose all bandaged-up after arm-straightening surgery with Dr Martin Kelly at Sunninghill Hospital, in early 2011.









































Jose getting Lego from Ann Thompson of Rotary on 30th September 2010



J'aime l'Afrique du Sud car elle m'offre cette chance - I love South Africa for giving me a chance

Jose is a little girl who survived terrible burns in a strife-torn country and now is in the tranquil arms of Children of Fire, in Auckland Park. The ten year old from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was burned five years ago. On an outreach to Kinshasa in September 2009, she was one of 200 severely burned children who were screened by Africa's first burns charity.

Children of Fire paramedic Tristan Jones said: "It was heart-rending to see so many children in such dire need."

The charity first had the terrible task of helping a little girl Helen Mutondo (13), who was close to death from infected burn wounds.

One DRC doctor said they could fly her to South Africa. Jones said: We quickly emailed a photo to our Johannesburg office and the Director said that the child was not fit to travel. Helen's limbs were visibly wasted with the weight loss that accompanies severe burns.

"We took Helen to the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital. Despite it being one of the better hospitals in the DRC capital, the surgeons there could not save Helen's life."

"I saw Helen gather a glimpse of hope; a faint smile. But the next day she passed away."

Jones flew back to South Africa, deeply saddened by what he had seen.

"We were hopefully of arranging a surgical outreach to repair the healthier children, but the recession and politics got in the way."

Donations to the charity slowed, even at Christmas, as people concentrated more on their own needs.

And political interference destroyed a unique medical workshop the charity was due to hold in December 2009.

Jones said: "Without the commitment of surgeons, it started to feel as if we would never have the funds to help those long wistful lines of burned children in Central Africa."

But every dream has to start somewhere.

It was better to start with one child and then see if it was possible to help another. And another. And so on. No matter how long it would take. Jones clicked through all the photos and medical histories of the children that he had helped to screen.

"Jose's face just beamed out at me. No matter that her one eye is hideously damaged, I know the miracles of medicine that surgeons can achieve, from the work done on my adoptive sister Dorah. I decided that Jose had to be given the chance to help in South Africa."

From then on, it was bureaucracy. Sorting out the child's birth certificate, her passport, her yellow fever certificate, her visa. She needed permission from DRC officials to travel. Sean Pike Councellor: Political/Macro-Economic of the South African Embassy in Kinshasa, was hugely helpful. South African Airways agreed to fly the little girl here and back once her surgery is complete.

And now she just awaits confirmation from the surgeons who have seen her, as to the costs involved. The surgeons and anaesthetists themselves will work for no fee, a hospital group may donate some theatre time, but there are extensive consumable costs likely.

It is estimated that Jose needs to live at Children of Fire for a year. She will have surgery to try to rebuild her upper and lower eyelids on her right eye, which are turned inside out. After rebuilding eyelids, then an ophthalmic surgeon is going to work inside her right eye. And Jose will need many operations on her right arm that has been contracted into a tight V shape for five years. The veins and arteries start to migrate in such an injured limb, so the damage can only be undone slowly, operation after operation.

Jose speaks Lingala and some French. She has started to learn English. She is attending the Johannesburg School for Blind, Low Vision and Multiple Disability Children in Auckland Park because it is uniquely equipped to take in children awaiting surgery. She likes playing with dolls, has befriended a little dog, likes wearing pretty clothes and watching TV.

Most of all she would like to be pretty again. She whispers in French: "Je veux mon oeil et mon bras pour etre comme toutes les autres filles." [I want my eye, my arm, to be like those of other girls.] Shyly she says: "Je veux pouvoir porter une robe rose avec de longues manches, ce que je ne peux pas faire a cause de mon bras." [I want to wear a pink dress with long sleeves, that I can't yet because of my arm]

"J'espere que les chirurgiens pourront m'aider.[I hope the surgeons can help me] J'aime l'Afrique du Sud car elle m'offre cette chance. [I love South Africa for giving me a chance]."

Anyone who can help Jose should please make donations to Children of Fire, FNB Melville, acct. no: 614 92023919. Branch code 25-65-05, reference Helping Jose.











Jose Mvula’s most dramatic problem is her damaged eye. But in addition to that she has a severe right arm contracture making that arm useless. And her left arm has an inner elbow contracture as well.

We do not know what surgeons can and will do to help her yet, but we are going to try to get her the best surgery possible.

The first step is to fly her to South Africa on a medical visa, preferably open for a year. It would take more than a year to repair her, even if all the required surgeons agreed to assist straight away. In mid 2010 Jose is aged 10 years 6 months old.





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