I am ME!!!!!!!!!!!

FYI...I got my VISA yesterday (finally), so we decided we needed to CeLeBrAtE!!!!!!!

Got my Visa!!!!!!!!!

     Juana, Sandra, Nick and I have a list of places where we want to eat during our time in Bolivia, so we have been eating out and checking off these restaurants off of our list.  Today, we chose to get some Charque de Llama for a Saturday treat :)  The plate includes hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, corn with Charque de Llama and cheese on top!!!  You eat it with your hands...

Charque de Llama

     As we were finishing up our meal, a little street girl walked right up to us, put her silver tin bowl down on our table and looked at us waiting for it to be filled.  See her little tin bowl in her hands?  We filled it up as she sat there with a huge grin on her face.  As she was walking away, I asked her if I could take a photo of her.  She walked back over and let me take the photo.  Nick leaned in to get in the photo with her and her cheeks turned bright red as she grinned even bigger...she must have thought Nick was cute...you can see that she leaned towards him too :)  She was so sweet!!!

Little Beggar Girl

     After we were all full, we still had some leftovers.  We bagged them up and decided to go find the little girl to give her more.  I knew that she would be on the street somewhere right outside of the restaurant.  Sure enough, we walked outside and she was on the left with her mom and another child.  This city is FULL of beggars and homeless.  Every street has someone sitting on the ground begging for money, food, your water bottle, jacket or anything that you have that they think they want or need.  It is so sad because most of these people will spend their entire lives on the streets...these children grow up on the streets, playing and begging.  

Little Beggar Girl's Family
     If you are reading this and you have children, they most likely have a place to sleep, clothes, food to eat, clean drinking water and they probably go to school.  Can you imagine if your children grew up begging for peoples scraps and spare change, spending all day, every day on the sidewalk?  Can you imagine your children working to help bring in money for your family?  Many children make money by washing car windows at red lights at busy intersections, by guarding parked cars on the streets for a few coins, by pushing wheelbarrows of produce at the Saturday markets, etc.  While your children are having friends over to play Barbies, going to extravagant birthday parties, enjoying movies at the theatre, swimming at friends houses during the summers and taking naps, these children are surviving.  This mother sits on the sidewalk, taking care of her baby, while she sends her older child into restaurants to beg for food from strangers.  But, you know what???  This little girl never stopped smiling...and it wasn't a fake smile...it was a genuine, bright, beautiful, happy smile.

     I'm not saying take all those wonderful things away from your children, but I am saying that we don't need as much as we think we need to be happy.  Right now, I am grateful for the roof over my head, my own bathroom with a toilet and hot water, a comfortable bed to sleep in, money for food, clothes and so much more.

     I know that God doesn't make mistakes.  That means that I was born at the right time, in the right place, to the right family and I am who I am supposed to be.  But, every time I see people like this little girl, I can't help but wonder why God made me who I am instead of making me a poor, Bolivian beggar girl???  Although I will never know, I am forever grateful to Him that I am ME!!!!!!!!!


Windows 11, 1, 6, 5, 4 and 9...

Click HERE to read Visa Attempt #1!!!  

Visa Attempt #2:

     Yesterday was a LOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGGGGG day...we left the house a little after 9am to get my Visa and returned around 6pm, without my Visa.  

I sat on the little green chair to get my Visa photo taken...

The Visa photos are printed in the back of a VW van...

    At 10am, we arrived back at Window 11.  Yesterday the Immigration Woman at Window 11 had said that if we came back to her with all of my documents, I would get my Visa.  Haha.  After waiting behind some missionaries who didn't have the "correct" Visa documents, it was my turn.  I handed over everything.  The Immigration Woman looked through all my documents and said that I did indeed have everything that I needed (YAY!!!!!), so I could now get a ticket and get in line.  FYI---remember those things that she told me were "required" and I didn't believe her?...Well, I didn't give them to her and she didn't even notice...hahaha...guess they weren't required after all!!!  I said, "What do you mean 'get in line'???...I thought that this is where I get my Visa???".  Turns out I DID have to get a ticket and get in line to wait, but they only give out 100 tickets in the morning and 100 tickets in the afternoon...AND I had already missed my chance to get a ticket, get in line and be seen in the morning.  So, the Immigration Woman told me to go outside, get in line and wait until 2:30pm when they re-open and give out new numbers.  I went outside, planning on getting in the line and waiting 4 1/2 hours to get a number, but there wasn't a line.  So, I went back inside and talked to the man who gives out tickets.  He told me that I could leave, come back around 1pm and get in the line to receive a ticket at 2:30pm when they re-open after lunch.

Lunch while we waiting to go back to the Immigration Office!


Visa Attempt #3:

     At 12:30pm, Nick and I walked over to the Immigration Office again so that we could get in line to get our ticket.  I don't know what happened, but on the walk over, I started to get an insane stomach ache.  By the time we arrived at the Immigration Office and got in line, we were about 10 people away from the door and I had to sit on the ground because the pain was so intense.  It finally got to the point where I knew I had to find a public bathroom...I asked around and there was not one anywhere close by.  Without even thinking, I grabbed Nick and said that we had to go home, as I am frantically flagging down a Taxi driver.  By the time we made it back to our apartment, I was seriously thinking crazy things like, "When I have a baby, I am definitely taking the epidural...no way I am doing a natural birth!!!!!".  Seriously, my stomach was NOT happy.  I was having heat waves come off of me and I felt faint.  I have been so anxious about my Visa that I honestly think that I made myself sick.

Visa Attempt #4

     We got back and the line was only about 4 people.  I figured that people got tired of waiting and left.  So, I went over near the front to sit down next to this woman.  She quickly let me know that everyone was taking naps in the park and that I was number 35 in line.  They had all apparently written down their numbers on their arms and left the line, but were planning on coming back to their same spot after their nap.  Makes sense.  So, as we sat there and fried in the sun, we saved places for 31 people who were enjoying the cool grass and shade 50 feet in front of us.

     By 2:30pm, people started coming back to get their place in line...everyone was arguing and comparing their arms for numbers to see who was in front of who.  New people had arrived and were angry when all these people woke up from siesta and walked over to push back into the front.  Then, all sorts of people starting walking up to gate without plans to even get in line at all...Nick and I were so worried that we weren't going to be one of the first 100 people and we weren't going to get a ticket to be seen today.  Finally, when the Immigration Office opened, the police started letting people in and trying to be fair to who was first...there were lots of unhappy people.  When I was trying to get through the gate, the police was having to hold back this big girl that was trying to push through and get in first...scary!!!

     We finally got inside, got our ticket and began our wait.  My number was called and I walked over to Window 1.  I hoped that I was going to have a man and I was planning on flirting...just being honest (I was in survival mode at this point and Nick gave me permission)!!!  I handed over all of my paperwork, he looked through it and said that I was missing Juana's signature on the letter of invitation.  I thought I was going to be sick and I must have looked it, because he quickly told me that I can just sign it for her.  I was totally confused and kept asking, "Do you want MY signature or Juana's signature?".  He kept saying that it didn't matter and that I should just quickly sign whatever name I wanted.  I guess my sweet talking was paying off!!!!!  So, he filled out everything for me, handed me my documents, plus some more and told me that I have two choices...go to Banco Union to pay for my Visa or wait here until 4:30pm to pay at Window 6.  I told him that I was told that HE was going to give me my Visa...he said no, that I would get it at Window 6.  At this point, it was 4pm so I decided to wait.

     As soon as 4:30pm rolled around, Nick and I went to stand in front of Window 6 to pay for my Visa.  The same Immigration Officer that "helped" us at the airport 29 days ago arrived and sat down at Window 5.  He saw us and asked if we were here for our Visa...I said yes.  He called us over to Window 5 and we paid 210 Bolivianos (a lot less than the 2,500 Bolivianos and then the 360 Bolivianos that the Immigration Woman said that we would owe).  We were handed a Receipt, told to go outside to make 2 photocopies (gotta love the photocopies), get another ticket and get back in line again.  I told him that I was told that HE was going to give me my Visa...he said no, that I would get it at Window 4.  I asked him several times to make sure what we were supposed to do because I couldn't believe that we had to get BACK IN LINE!!!

     After going outside and getting out photocopies of our Receipt, we came back in, got another ticket and got back in line again.  Finally our number was called and we went up to Window 4.  Again, our documents were looked through very thoroughly.  I was photographed and fingerprinted and then told to come back tomorrow.  Ummm...What?!?!??!  I told him that I was told that HE was going to give me my Visa...he said no, that I would get it at Window 9 tomorrow.  Yep, they kept ALL of my documents AND my passport and told me come back tomorrow.  I told that Immigration Officer that I was uncomfortable leaving my passport.  He assured me that they would take good care of it and gave me a piece of paper that I can use as my "proof" that my documents and passport are in their hands.  Great.

     So, at that point, it had been two days.  LOTS of different information from each Immigration Officer and still no Visa.  I have visited Window 11 two times, Window 1, Window 6, Window 5 and Window 4.  At EVERY SINGLE WINDOW, the Immigration Officers tell me that I will get my Visa at the NEXT Window.  So, today we are supposed to go at 5pm to Window 9...because THEY are going to give me my Visa.  I'll believe it when I see it!!!!!!!

     Nick and I got home around 6pm last night and were both totally fried from waiting so many hours out in the sun.

     Please pray with us today that when we return to Immigration at 5pm (for Visa Attempt #5) and walk up to Window 9, that they will have my Visa ready!!!



Visa Attempt #5 was a fail.  We got to the Immigration Office, got a ticket, got in line to wait to visit Window 9 and then were told to come back TOMORROW at 5pm.



Visa Attempt #6 was a SUCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Now, I am good until February 27th...yay!!!!!!!!

My precious Visa is in that beloved Passport!!!!!!!!


Burn Care International

This little girl is named Carla.  She is 8-years-old and was burned by hot oil on 
the back of her leg two days before Christmas.  Carla's family was in a hurry for her to be seen and get a Pressure Garment because tomorrow they are moving to La Paz.

Here is a photo of the Sewing Room in the Burn Clinic.  I stood on a chair so that I could get everyone in the photo.  As you can see, Barbara (our volunteer) is going through files on the left, Maria and Juana are using the sewing machines against the right wall and Nick is sitting in the corner trying to stay out of the way.  The room is very small, but the women keep it organized so that there isn't one space left to waste.

Please consider financially supporting Burn Care International!!!
     By supporting BCI, you will be providing material, thread, zippers and foam for the Pressure Garments and Suits, silicon for the difficult scars, essential oils and creams for itching skin, salaries for Juana and Maria and basic supplies for the Clinic.

     Please CLICK HERE to visit BCI's website to learn more about our important ministry.  You can DONATE ONLINE by scrolling to the bottom of the website and clicking the DONATE button.  Or you can MAIL A CHECK to:  Burn Care International, 419 Woodland Drive, Florence, SC 29501.  All donations are tax-deductible and will change the life of a burned victim!!!


Window 11

     So, remember when I first arrived in Bolivia and had some trouble getting my Visa????  
And then when I finally DID get my Visa, it was only a 30 day Visa 
instead of the usual 90 day Visa????

CLICK HERE to refresh your memory.

     Since my 30 days is coming to an end, my Visa expires on the 29th of January...two days away.  I have been dreading going back to get my Visa renewed because I knew that it was going to be difficult.  However, several friends encouraged me to go ahead and go a few days early to ask what I need to do to get it renewed.  

     This morning, we called Immigration and asked for information on what I need to renew my Visa. They said that the couldn't give me any information over the phone and that I would have to come to the Immigration office and visit "Window 11"...I could already tell this was going to be an "adventure". While I was getting ready to go and putting all my documents in my bag, I was thinking "Please let the Immigration Officer be a man...women are always SO much more difficult".

     We walked to the Immigration Office, entered the building and went straight to Window 11.  There was a man and a woman sitting there together.  I leaned over the desk so that I could be heard over the chaos and said "I need to renew my Visa".  Here is what happened next:

Immigration Woman (IW): Show me your passport.
---I handed her my passport and thought, "Of course the woman is the one that is going to help me."
IW:  You need all of your required documents.
Me:  What required documents?
IW:  Copy of your passport, copy of your Visa, letter of invitation, photo of yourself, copy of your flight schedule and a copy of your yellow fever shot.
Me:  I already gave all of those documents to the airport Immigration to get my Visa.
IW:  They gave them back and you should have them with you.
Me:  No, they kept them and I don't have them anymore.
IW:  Well, you can't get a Visa without those documents.
Me:  The first time I got my Visa 30 days ago, I had all of those documents...thats how I got the Visa. So, why do I need to show all of the same documents again just to renew the same Visa?
IW:  Those are the requirements.
Me:  Well, I don't have those document copies anymore since they took them at the airport.
IW:  Then, I can't give you a Visa.
Me:  Ok, what do I need to do?
IW:  Go see that man over there.
---I looked around at the 200 people in the room and wonder what man she is talking about.
Me:  What man?
IW:  In that office.
Me:  What office?  Straight ahead?
IW:  Yes.
---I walked straight ahead into that office and waited in line until "that man" was able to see me.
That Man (TM):  What do you need?
Me:  To renew my Visa.
TM:  Go to Window 11.
Me:  I was just there and they told me come here.
TM:  Let's walk over there together.
---I followed him back to Window 11.
TM:  Why did you send this girl to me to renew her Visa?
IW:  She doesn't have any of her documents.
TM:  She has her Visa already, just stamp the date and get her money to renew it.
IW:  No, she needs her documents and she doesn't have them.  She said that the airport Immigration kept them.
TM:  Well, the man from the airport is coming today...let her sit and wait on him.
---The man walked away and the woman moved on to the next person.
Me:  Excuse me, what am I supposed to do?
IW:  Wait for the man from the airport.
Me:  Wait where?
IW:  Here (she just motions to the 50 people that are sitting in the middle of the room).
Me:  When is he coming?
IW:  Today.
Me:  So, I am supposed to just sit here and wait all day for him to show up.
IW:  Yes.
Me:  Why?
IW:  Because you said that you left your papers at the airport Immigration.
Me:  How will he help me?...he won't have my old documents and photocopies with him.
---She just stares at me.
Me:  Just tell me exactly what I need in documents and photocopies and I will go get them again.
IW:  Copy of your passport, copy of your Visa, letter of invitation, photo of yourself, photo of the person who invited you, copy of their Carnet (ID card), copy of your flight schedule and a copy of your yellow fever shot.
---I noticed that she added "photo of person who invited me" and "photocopy of their Carnet (ID card)" to the list of requirements, even though she didn't name those when she first talked to me...
Me:  Can you please write down those things so that I can remember.
---She opens her desk draw and shuffles through a bunch of old pens, trash, paperclips and scrap paper...then she pulled out their Visa list of requirements...how they stay organized amazes me.
IW:  Here is a list of the requirements to get your Visa.
---She marked by the ones that are "officially required" and then told me the extra ones that I'm pretty sure that she just made up herself.
IW:  The cost is 2,500 Bs to renew your Visa (this is a little over $350).
Me:  No, that's not the correct amount.
IW:  Yes, if you want your Visa, you have to pay that amount.
Me:  At the airport I paid much less and was told a different amount...the amount you are telling me today is not correct.
IW:  How much did you pay at the airport?
Me:  $55 for a 30 day Visa.
IW:  I'll go ask.
---She walked away and I was fuming.  Not only was she telling me her own unofficial requirements for me to renew my Visa, but she was also trying to swindle $300 from me.
IW:  You were correct about the price.
---She scribbled out the 2,500 Bs and wrote down 360 Bs. in it's place.  She picked up the paper and handed it to me with this smirk on her face...she knew that I knew that she had just tried to pull one over on me.
Me:  So, you are telling me that if I bring every single document and photocopy, plus the extra things that you named and my money, you will give me a Visa.
IW:  Yes
Me:  So, if I come tomorrow with all of those things, I can get my Visa tomorrow.
IW:  Yes
---Window 11...see you tomorrow...

"The Official Requirements Document" that the Immigration Woman pulled out of her desk...


Cristo de la Concordia

     Yesterday was a holiday and Juana told us that she wanted to make sure that we had an adventure.  She LOVES to get out in the city, walk around, go on short trips, etc.  We were trying to figure out what to do and we were all lost on ideas...so we got out a book on Bolivia that someone else left here at Juana and Sandra's apartment.  I was reading through ideas of what to do in the city and saw a paragraph on the Cristo!!!!!!  Perfect idea for a day trip :)

Trufi Ride

     Juana didn't want to take a Taxi because she said that they are too expensive...it costs about $2 for all of us to get across town (I know...what a rip off)!!!  So, we hopped in a Trufi (basically a mini-van) and all rode to the Cristo for a little over $1.  It's amazing to live in a city where you don't need a car and you can get everywhere you need to go for SUPER cheap!

We used to take the stairs...

     When I was growing up here in Bolivia, we had visitors from the USA pretty often...they would usually visit in teams from churches.  My family would always take them to the Cristo while they were here.  Some of us would be dropped off at the bottom of the hill and hike up over 2,000 stairs to meet the rest of our group.  It was always SO hard and we would whine and wish that we had gone in the car, but it was always so fun at the same time!!!  Having guests from the USA was always the best and we enjoyed every minute with them...especially if they brought American candy and peanut butter (just being honest).  One time, a team from North Metro Church in Georgia brought me a green American Eagle shirt and I treasured it for YEARS.  I wore it as often as it was clean and always remembered how surprised I felt at their generosity and thoughtfulness.  When you are living overseas, little American gifts are amazing!!!  If you have friends and family living in another country...treat them well...spoil them.  Anyway...long story short...its no longer safe to take the stairs, so the city built Cable Cars so that people can get to the top without being mugged :)  Yay!!!

Riding up to the Cristo

Riding up to the Cristo

     Isn't the Cochabamba Valley beautiful?!?!?!!?  Surrounded by the Andes mountains and known as The City of Eternal Spring...can't get much better than this!!!  The older I get, the more I am amazed that God blessed our family by allowing us to grow up in a place like this.  When I was younger, I thought it was totally normal and every one was doing it...I was living an adventure without even realizing it :)

Our apartment is behind us somewhere...

     Cochabamba is the 4th largest city in Bolivia with a little over 1 million people!!! I took this Panoramic photo, but I'm pretty sure it only captured about 1/8 of the city...

The Cochabamba Valley

The Cristo

     In the summer of 1997, my family spent time in Peru and Bolivia.  We climbed the Cristo and took a photo right here, with us all six sitting on these rocks behind Nick and me.  It's special to return to a place and take a photo again to see how much the city has changed and you have grown...at that time I was 11 years old...now I'm 29 (and married)!!!  Needless to say...a lot has changed!!!

Taking a photo in front of "THE" rock

Juana and Sandra

Trying to get the Cristo in the photo

     Once we came down from the Cristo, we had already planned that we would eat lunch at Los Castores because we were all craving Salteñas.  Juana loves to walk all over the city and assured us that it was only a few blocks...Sandra, however, doesn't like to walk that much and kept saying that it is too far.  So, we decided to make a bet, walk and count the city blocks.  23 blocks later, we made it.  We were all exhausted and told Juana that we can no longer trust her distance perception.

Salteñas for lunch

     After lunch, we still had to walk home.  Juana was (of course) happy and said, "But it's not far"...Nick, Sandra and I gave her "the look" and we all burst out laughing.

The river during the rainy season

     This river runs right through the center of town, so we cross it almost overtime we walk somewhere.  During the dry season, there is barely any water, nothing green and lots of homeless people and animals live under the bridges.  However, during the rainy season, it looks more like this and can sometimes flood, drowning the people and animals who seek shelter.


Burn Care International

     Last Monday, Nick and I visited the Burn Clinic that Burn Care International has here in Cochabamba, Bolivia.  Please CLICK HERE to read a more detailed explanation of how BCI was founded, what the ministry does, what the clinic and patients look like, etc.

One of the entrances to Hospital Viedma.

    Every hospital in the USA (at least that I've ever been to) has been VERY clean and sanitized and offered kids play areas, food, coffee, music, gift shops, good parking, heating and air, etc...can you imagine if you were sick or injured and had to go to and stay in a hospital that looks like this?  Or have your child play on this playground below?  Although these conditions may not look good, BCI is an amazing ministry and changes lives here and in developing countries around the world!!!  No patient is turned away and all receive treatment with Pressure Garments and Suits, when needed.  Financial supporters like you and me are what keeps this Burn Clinic open!!!

     When someone has some type of trauma and they need their skin to heal properly, it can sometimes be a difference of life...or barely living.  Many people don't have good healthcare and never receive treatment.  Because of this, they grow new skin that actually takes over.  The skin is a very strong organ and can pull a person body into positions that causes them to become handicapped for the rest of their lives!  Having terrible, visible scars is bad enough...but what about the type of scars that grow and twist your body until you can't turn or lift your head or use your limbs???  The Pressure Garments and Suits that are sewn at the burn clinic are vital in helping skin heal correctly, smooth and flat so that these patients can lead normal lives after their accidents.  BCI doesn't just provide Pressure Garments and Suits...they provide a better life for these patients!!!

The Kids Play Area at Hospital Viedma.

     Today, Maria put me to work!!!  I got to sit at one of the sewing machines and help her sew a little pair of pants for a child's Pressure Garment.  Let me tell you...I was SUPER slow, but it was fun getting to help out and Maria actually used what I sewed!!!

Helping with the Sewing
     As I was sewing, the patients started showing up.  This 1-year-old baby girl is named Marilu.  She was burned on December 9th by hot water while she was at home.  She was so terrified, while in the Burn Clinic, that she screamed the entire time.  The mother tried to soothe her by nursing her.  However, each time we got near her, she screamed so much that she would choke and throw up.  It was hard to watch because the mother was upset about her baby being burned and the baby wouldn't calm down.

Marilu's burns
     Here is the mother, trying to hold Marilu still, so that Juana can zip up her new Pressure Garment.  

Marilou trying on her new Pressure Garment

     Here is Marilu with her new Pressure Garment.  She was mainly burned on her chest and neck, so the Pressure Garment only had to cover a very small area.  The chest is a difficult place to heal scars because it is tricky to get the right amount of pressure and tightness.  Maria and Juana added extra sponge and material for additional  pressure on Marilu's chest.

Marilu in her new Pressure Garment
     Strollers aren't a popular thing around here for the typical country women...they use these colorful blankets to hold their babies on their backs all day...while they take care of the home, roam the city, work, etc.  The babies are always sitting there, with their little heads popped out watching the world go by :)  See Nick sitting back there in the Sewing Room?  Marilu immediately quit crying once her mom threw her over her back and strapped her in...she knew that it meant it was time to go and she couldn't wait to get out of the Burn Clinic!

Marilu is ready to get out of here!!!

     Remember last week when we visited the Burn Clinic and we met a little patient named Emily?  Well, Emily was released that same day and has been home for a week.  She returned with her mom to try on and take home her new Pressure Garments.  Just like last week, Emily was all smiles, happy and jumped up on the table to get ready for her appointment.  See what hot water did to her poor little back, shoulders and chest?

Emily's burns
     Each time I asked her to pose for a photo, she happily did!  Here she is with her new Pressure Garment!  She doesn't need pants because she was only burned above the waist.  She will have to wear this 24/7, except for when bathing, for several years!!!  It's a good thing that she has such a great little attitude.

Emily in her new Pressure Garment

     Although BCI mainly deals with burn victims, sometimes they have patients who weren't burned.  Some women come for help with their c-section scar, some people come for help with scars left from car accidents, etc...it's not only burns that leave ugly, uncomfortable scars on a person's body.  This little girl below is named Sheila.  She is 7-years-old and was hurt on December 2nd.  She was at home, in her kitchen, trying to make some juice for herself and her family.  As she was juicing the carrots, she used her hand to push them down, instead of the juicers hand piece.  The machine not only juiced the carrots, but also her fingers!  This photo below actually doesn't do her fingers justice...they were so awful looking, I had a hard time taking this photo.

Sheila's hurt fingers
     She is currently receiving treatment in the physical therapy area of the hospital because she is not able to bend her fingers...those three fingers are all stuck out at awkward angles because it hurts her too much to move them.  Even though she was not burned, this is something that a Pressure Garment can help!  Maria took a few measurements of Sheila's hand and then drew an outline on a piece of paper.  Sheila will come back in two days to receive her Pressure Garment (a glove).  She will have to wear the glove 24/7, except for when bathing. 

Sheila getting measured for her Pressure Garment

These children need OUR help.  

In the USA and in other countries around the world, there is great heath care...however, this
is not the case in every part of the world!!!  Look at the conditions of this hospital, this play ground, the Burn Clinic's tiny two room area...help us make sure that these patients get the treatment that they need in a safe and clean environment!!!

     By supporting BCI, you will be providing material, thread, zippers and foam for the Pressure Garments and Suits, silicon for the difficult scars, essential oils and creams for itching skin, salaries for Juana and Maria and basic supplies for the Burn Clinic.  

     Please CLICK HERE to visit BCI's website to learn more about our important ministry.

-You can DONATE ONLINE by scrolling to the bottom of the website, click the "DONATE" button.  -Or you can MAIL A CHECK to:
Burn Care International
419 Woodland Drive
Florence, SC 29501

  All donations are tax-deductible and will change someone's life...

Please GIVE a Child a Chance!!!


Burn Care International

     In 2001, my family was involved in an accident and my mom was burned very badly.  Over 30% of her body was 3rd degree burns.  We were living in Bolivia, South American at the time, but had to move to the USA to save her life!  After 5 months, we returned to Bolivia and my mom made it her mission to help burn victims like her.
     Burn victims need special treatment and need to wear a Pressure Suit or Garment for up to two years!!!  It depends on how badly they were burned and how much of their body was burned.  Most people don't know how devastating burns are and how, if not cared for properly, can destroy a person's life.  Once burns have grown new skin, the hardest part begins!  The skin is an incredibly strong organ and can pull a persons body into positions that create handicaps...this is why Pressure Suits and Garments are SOOOO important!!!!!  My mom saw this need and created Burn Care International!!!  Although BCI does many things, the main focus is creating the Pressure Suits and Garments so that skin can heal correctly, smooth and flat.
    BCI's clinic is found in three small rooms inside Hospital Viedma in Cochabamba, Bolivia...a Patient Room and a Sewing Room, with a Bathroom in between.  Once you have arrived at the hospital grounds, you enter this door to the Physical Therapy area of Hospital Viedma.

Entrance to the Physical Therapy area of Hospital Viedma.

     Then, take the first door on the left to enter BCI's Pressure Therapy Clinic...when you walk through this door, you are in the Patient Room (you can see the sink straight ahead).

Entrance to BCI's Pressure Therapy Clinic.

Burn Care International---Improving the lives of burn victims around the world!!!

     Once you are inside the Patient Room, you turn to the right (walk past the bathroom door) and you arrive in the Sewing Room.  The room looks big because I took a panoramic shot, but when four of us where in there, there was no room to move.

Sewing Room.

     Right outside of the bathroom door is this shelf full of materials.  It looks like a lot, but they go through this stuff fast and are constantly needing more!!!

Materials for Pressure Suits and Garments.

     Maria is the head seamstress and she keeps her work organized on this shelf...you can see some small Pressure Garments waiting on patients to come get them.  Not only does BCI's Clinic get new patients all of the time, who need measurements and new Pressure Garments and Suits, but they also have returning patients who need adjustments made so that the fit continues to be very tight.  Maria has a lot of work cut out for her!!!

Shelf used to keep patients' Garments and Suits in order during sewing.


Sink in Patient Room.

     Barbara is a volunteer who comes twice a week and has been coming for years.  She takes care of a lot of the organizing, staying on top of stock, keeping in touch with my mom, handling the money, etc.  Barbara is so important to this ministry and we really appreciate how much she willingly and freely gives to us!!!

Sitting area and file cabinet in Patient Room.

Me getting more files ready for new patients.

Paperwork filled out for each patient.

Nick calculating the total December expenses.

     Nick is organizing in the Sewing Room...behind him is the bathroom and through that door is the Patient Room.  You can see that BCI's Clinic doesn't have much room to work with, but they make it work well!!!

Nick organizing the materials in the Sewing Room.

     This little patient below is named Emily!!!  I really like her name :)  She was so cute and so sweet.  We kept asking her if she wanted a toy while she waited and she kept saying, "no".  Then, we starting asking her what her favorite toy is and everything we named, she would only reply, "no".  Obviously, she is a child and I'm sure she loves toys, but she was top secret around us!  Maybe the giant Americans were throwing her off :)  All of the children who walked over from the Hospital Viedma had shaved heads...boys and girls alike.  The hospital does this so that they don't have to deal with the child's hair much during their stay!!!!!!  Imagine what parents would do in the USA if they came to the hospital to visit their child and found their head shaved without permission!!!!

Emily in the Sewing Room to be measured for her Pressure Garment.

     Emily was burned by boiling water...this is VERY common among the children who come in for help!!!  The hospital staff had her wearing a bathrobe and crocs that would fit a child 5 years older than her!!!  See how they have the sleeved rolled WAY up?!?!!?  But, she had no idea that she shouldn't be the happiest little girl in the world...so sweet...

Emily patiently waiting to be measured in the Sewing Room :)

     Juana (on right) and Maria (on left) are a great team!!!!!!  Juana invites patients in...she is so friendly and welcoming, especially to the scared little children.  Then, as Maria measures, Juana jots down notes so that Maria can sew the perfect fit for each patient.  You wouldn't believe how many measurements they take down for each part of the body.  The Garments and Suits must be tight like a glove in every surface of the skin, even in the difficult places like chest, neck and all of the curves and places that bend.

It's finally Emily's turn!  She returns to the Patient Room for her measurements.

     Neymar (the boy below) was so scared and cried the entire time that he was in our Clinic.  He cried when he came in, when they got him to stand on the table, when they got him to sit down, when they took off his clothes, when they looked at his burns, when they measured him, when they put his clothes back on, when his dad picked him up to leave and even, as they were leaving the building, he continued to cry until they were too far away to hear him anymore.  It was so sad because he had such horrible burns all over his body...even his private area had been mostly burned off.  He was a difficult patient to witness...

Neymar's burns cover almost his entire body.

     Neymar, just like the little girl Emily, was burned with boiling water...

Juana and Maria measure Neymar in the Patient Room.

     After Juana and Maria measured Neymar, Maria sewed this entire Pressure Suit within minutes!!!!!  They put him in his new suit to make sure everything fit just right before sending him off.  He will have to come back every few weeks to get his suit re-adjusted.  As long as his parents continue to bring him, he will need to wear this suit everyday for the next two years.  

Neymar with his completed Pressure Suit.

     Each patient goes home with two of each piece needed to cover their burns...two sets of pants...two sets of gloves...two sets of shirts...etc.  One is to wear and one is to wash.  The patients must wear their suit 23 out of 24 hours a day!!!  I'm telling you, getting burned is a horrible experience.  It is more than just waiting for your burns to heal, it is years of work and your life is never the same.

Maria drawing out and cutting out the fabric for a Pressure Garment.

     Juana and Maria have now been working here with the burn victims for 10 years!!!  

Maria sewing a Pressure Garment.

     These burned patients need OUR help.  
These burned children need OUR help.  
Burn victims around the world need OUR help.  

     Please support BCI so that WE can help them...ALL of them!  Getting burned is a terrible experience, but imagine being burned in a country without good health care!!!  Imagine your burned skin turning into thick scars that continues to grow tight until you are left handicapped for life!!!!  Imagine not having the options that we have in the USA!!!!  Most people can't imagine...but, for many, this is their life!!!  
     By supporting BCI, you will be providing material, thread, zippers and foam for the Pressure Garments and Suits, silicon for the difficult scars, essential oils and creams for itching skin, salaries for Juana and Maria and basic supplies for the Clinic.  
     Please CLICK HERE to visit BCI's website to learn more about our important ministry.  You can DONATE ONLINE by scrolling to the bottom of the website and clicking the DONATE button.  Or you can MAIL A CHECK to:  Burn Care International, 419 Woodland Drive, Florence, SC 29501.  All donations are tax-deductible and will change the life of a burned victim!!!