It is estimated that 3.2% of the South African population annually sustains serious burn injuries and an astonishing 68% percent of South African children younger than 14 have experienced scalding burns in their short lifetime.
The Avela Foundation, founded in 2015, is a non-profit organization that is committed to helping these kids on their road to physical and emotional recovery.
“We provide hope to those kids who are in desperate need of physical as well as emotional care after having suffered life- threatening or debilitating burn injuries”, says Palomo.
Hoping to raise awareness and much needed funds for South African burn victims, Founder of the Avela Foundation, Cami Palomo, assembled a dream team to accompany her on a journey to Base Camp, on the might Mount Everest.
In collaboration with the Smile Foundation, 12 individuals begin their journey on 29 April 2018 to Kathmandu, Nepal. The hike, expected to take 9 days will begin on the 2 May 2018. Hoping to crowdfund a total of R2 million rand on Donations-based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy, the team have begun vigorous training. Funds generated will contribute to the refurbishing of Kimberley Hospital’s burn ward in the Northern Cape and also help launch Avela’s Umattersupport network, a psychological support network for burn survivors and their families.
“The physical pain of a burn is horrific, but the worry, fear, and emotional pain it causes to survivors and their families can be just as difficult. Emotional support is crucial for recovery. By providing the right psychological support to burns survivors and their families, burn survivors will become an asset not a liability to our society. ” Says Palomo.
In November 2016 the Avela foundation teamed up with the Smile Foundation to donate the first ever R1.5million laser machine to the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital, a machine that has dramatically improved the appearance of scarring in children who have suffered from severe burns. Joining forces for a second time, the respective charities aim to once a again bring hope to burn victims.
“This journey is about overcoming challenges for both the climbers but just as importantly for burn survivors. In this instance base camp is a light for these survivors”, says Hedley Lewis, Smile Foundation’s CEO.
Among those survivors is the Head of the Avela Mentorship Programme, William Baartman, who at age of three years old, was a victim of gross Human Rights violation when his home was petrol bombed by local students. He sustained 75% burn wounds and lost his younger sister, Grace in the fire.
“When I met William Baartman in 2015, he was a timid, soft-spoken man that barely looked me in the eye when we spoke. William’s story is not of self-pity and hate; it is of triumph, courage and positivity and that touched my soul and didn’t let go. He has become a brother to me over these years and has blossomed into a leader and healer and is changing the lives of the children who are burn survivors every day. “ says Lindiwe Suttle, of the Avela Foundation.
William hopes to raise R75 000 to join the mount Everest hikers to inspire others who were once like him.
“I was too afraid to leave the house because I was scared of what others might think and now I’m wanting to climb Mount Everest! I hope to send a message to those hiding from the world, that there’s hope for them, hope they think doesn’t exist.”- says William
Get William to Base camp by donating here.