Save Children Burnt by Caustic Soda!
    By Tommaso Dorigo | April 19th 2009 05:18 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    sierra leoneIn Sierra Leone mothers use caustic soda to home-make soap, and children often exchange it for water and drink it. During 2008 alone, 249 children have been admitted in the surgical pediatric unit of the Emergency center in Goderich, near Freetown - a number twice higher than that recorded in 2007.

    Patients who ingested caustic soda are subjected to periodic esophageal dilatation, which is the only way to give them the hope of autonomous nutrition and thus a life.

    Emergency is an independent, neutral and non-political Italian organization, which provides free, high-quality medical and surgical treatment to the civilian victims of war, landmines, and poverty. It promotes a culture of solidarity, peace, and respect for human rights.

    goderich endoscopyThe Emergency hospital in Goderich (right) is the only place in the whole country where this procedure is possible. The endoscopes which have so far been used by surgeons there require urgent repair, and two new instruments have to be acquired, one for children and one for teenagers. The total cost of the operation is of about 26,000 US dollars.

    If you are sitting on some extra money and if you care for the life of children wherever they live, you might consider contributing to the repair and purchase of endoscopes by donating money with your credit card at the Emergency web site. Please be sure to specify "Sierra Leone - programma di dilatazione" in the form.

    Further reading:
    Documentation on the program (in italian only)


    Just as a curiosity, wouldn't some money be well spent making families aware how dangerous it is?   As a kid living in the country we made soap (not all things 'natural' are better - I won't eat jelly bought in a store, for example, I make my own, but I don't make soap) and none of us drank lye.  Our parents told us not to and sometimes you ignore your parents but when they have that definitive tone in their voice (' do not eat this or you will go to the hospital') kids tend to listen.
    Yes, kids do listen, but a culture of prevention is not easy to instill in the population of third-world countries. However I agree with the principle.
    My great grandmother famously (at least in my family) died as a result of having her clothes catch fire while making soap on a wood stove. It's one of those dangerous things that should be done by big factories rather than people at home.

    Thank you for having this article on your pages from all the volunteering group of Emergency located in Padova and from Dr. Mario (left in the pic). He's just back from Goderich and takes to Italy the endoscopes to be repaired!

    Dear Emergency Padova,

    thank you for your note. Curiously (or maybe not so much), we are close geographically - I work at the University of Padova. My best wishes to Mario and to you for your important commitment.

    mamma mia ... !
    (I see the mess I did on writing here – please, if possible, keep my last comment … only …)
    I didn’t read your profile before - just surf through your article but now … I think, yes, your name is familiar in Padua :) … so time for wishing you good luck for your studies and work!