Claudia Torres was preparing a pot of hot water for her family’s laundry when she turned away for a moment. In what is every mother’s nightmare, her two-year-old son, Tomas, stepped into the pot and suffered third-degree burns to his right foot.

This is a horrific scenario that plays out much too often in the developing world, where someone suffers a burn injury every five seconds. For these children, having access to specialized burn care is the difference between a life of possibilities and a life of disabilities.

Immediately after his accident, Tomas received treatment that helped prevent infection. But the heavy dressing that served as his initial wound care prohibited him from keeping up with his friends. He became increasingly sedentary and isolated. 

A few months after his accident, Claudia and Tomas were referred to Yinna Martinez for treatment. Ms. Martinez is a physical therapist with Hospital Simon Bolivar in Bogota, Columbia, where Physicians for Peace recently held a regional acute burn care training session. Through physical therapy skills taught by Physicians for Peace, Ms. Martinez used splints, then compression garments, to treat Tomas and get him back on his feet.

“I always wanted to work with burn patients, but I felt like I had a lot of limitations in what I could do for them,” Ms. Martinez said. “After working with Physicians for Peace for three years, I now feel empowered to provide effective therapy."

Claudia was quick to offer praise for Ms. Martinez and her skills.

“The experience that we went through was very difficult,” she said. “And through working with Ms. Martinez, Tomas has started to feel confident again and has even begun to walk."