Children of Fire started to work with Miss Cyprus SA in August
2000. On the premise that every beauty queen has to do something beautiful, the
link came about at the suggestion of Pretoria public relations company Platinum
South Africa has an incredibly diverse mix of people with origins
from across the African continent and from across Europe. Many of these groups
maintain their cultural links while also feeling strongly South African.
Miss Cyprus SA and PR pal Janet greet
a burn victim in hospital
The Cypriots celebrate the traditions of their forefathers, crown
a Miss Cyprus SA once a year, and play a significant role in the economy and
the well being of South Africa.
Rebecca Georgiou, this year's Miss Cyprus SA, joined forces with
Children of Fire to visit the paediatric burns unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath
Hospital and to take the children gifts. On a typical winter weekend at this
largest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere, there can be 20 serious burn cases
in the children's ward with many other children being helped as outpatients.
Janet Potgieter, Dorah, Rebecca Georgiou (Miss
Most of the children are under five years old and a large number
are burned with hot water. Two of the children we met on this latest visit had
been burned with boiling water thrown by their own fathers. With high
unemployment and a high level of alcoholism, these injuries are too common.
Debt relief from the West and investment in manufacturing (rather than in
casinos, alcohol and carbonated drinks) would have a major positive impact on
The more serious burns and deaths are from shack fires. With this
in mind, Miss Cyprus SA also went with Children of Fire to visit a squatter
camp where the charity has undertaken a lot of preventative work: the Joe Slovo
squatter camp in the Johannesburg suburb Crosby.
Miss Cyprus SA remembers the nursing
staff in the burns unit need sustenance, seen here with ward sister Christine
Rebecca had never visited any sort of informal settlement before
and was visibly moved by the experience. She saw the area of swings that
Children of Fire had introduced with the help of the German School of
Johannesburg, which is intended as a safe play place and as a firebreak where
no shack can be built. Rebecca also visited the creche and handed over a gift
of some 200 Zulu-language reading books and colouring-in books.
Janet Potgieter of PR company Platinum
Projects giving learning toys to burn victims at Chris Hani Baragwanath
Hospital, through a Children of Fire initiative
While some of these activities are peripheral to the main work of
Children of Fire, we want to work with people living in a situation almost
beyond hope, and to give them some hope. The start of a community library in
the creche shack is a good beginning. The safe play place is working wonders.
Gradually morale is improving and with it comes better neighbourliness and
Three young men trained in
firefighting through Children of Fire, holding Dorah on her latest visit to Joe
Slovo squatter camp
One of the youngest burn victims in the ward
will at least wake up to a new toy of his own
By August 2000 some 30 different people from the Joe Slovo
squatter camp have been trained in first aid, fire fighting and prevention, and
most recently, in the St John Ambulance course in home-based care. The
home-based care course covers such topics as the treatment and dressing of burn
wounds but is wide enough to even cover the nursing of a family member with
Aids, in a shack environment. Almost every South African family will have
someone dying of Aids in the years to come.
Each person trained through Children of Fire is recognised as an
asset to their community. They are praised in the media to build their status
and self esteem and, whenever the charity receives something that can be
shared, the trainees benefit.
So as Miss Cyprus SA waved goodbye to the little community living
in corrugated iron shacks, first aiders and fire fighters stood proud in their
new "Freedom for Cyprus" T-shirts. Most probably don't know where Cyprus is on
the map but they met a beautiful Cypriot descendent who cares.
In the creche with some of the Joe
Slovo squatter camp children who will benefit from the donated books