The global award in photography and sustainability

Brent Stirton
Burns Capital Of The World

Kumkum Chowdhary, 12, plays by herself on the roof of a small donor hospital in Varanassi, India. Kumkum is a victim of severe burns from a gas fire. India has one of the highest incidents of severe burns per capita yet has very few proper burns units throughout the country. Kumkum was severely burned when a naive boy in her village asked to hold a candle while he tried to transfer gas from one canister to another. He promised Kumkum a sweet if she would help him. The resultant explosion burnt her over most of her body, the boy was uninjured and ran away. Kumkum has been in this condition for more than three years with only basic medical care. Her parents are poor people and they cannot afford the necessary travel let alone medical care she requires. This hospital in Varanassi is one of the very few the poor can access. It is based on the efforts of a single doctor, a plastic surgeon who has made it his priority to serve the poor who would otherwise never be able to access this kind of surgery. Kumkum will first have her hands repaired to offer some use and then her face and body will be attended to. It will require at least a year of surgeries and recovery before she will be able to lead a normal life. This recovery is not something she would ever be able to access without the help of this unique facility.

Series: Burns Capital Of The World, 2013