On August 1, 2014, in the middle of the night, the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung was rocked by a series of explosions caused by ruptured gas pipelines. People were shocked by images of destruction, with upturned cars, streets blown open, damaged buildings and fires burning uncontrollably. The explosions claimed the lives of 31 people, and over 300 people were injured. Among injured people, 73 people sustained burns, with 48 people being severely burned. Victims included residents of the district where the incident occurred, but also firefighters and paramedics who were responding to emergency calls.
Immediately after the incident, Sunshine mobilized its staff to visit victims and their family in the different hospitals and provide emotional support, in order to help them deal with the stress of hospitalization, the psychological impact of this traumatic event, as well as many uncertainties about the future that emerge following burns. Indeed, hospital discharge does not mark the end of the trials of burn survivors, but instead it marks the beginning of the most difficult part of their recovery: rehabilitation.
In order to ensure that burn survivors of the Kaohsiung gas explosion have access to quality comprehensive rehabilitation services locally, Sunshine inaugurated on October 16th a new rehabilitation center in Kaohsiung. Instead of having to leave their family and community to come to Taipei, burn survivors in Kaohsiung and southern Taiwan can come to this new center, which offers daily physical and occupation therapy services, pressure garment service, daily living skills training, individual/group psychological counseling and work preparation training. Burn survivors not only receive personalized services, but also benefit from the peer support atmosphere of the center.
Yan-Ting is one of the burn survivors benefiting from the services of Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center. Yan-Ting graduated from a professional school, where he studied to be an auto technician. When the explosions occurred, he was on his way back home and sustained second to third degree burns over 36% of his body, including the hands, arms and back. Due to the severity of his injuries, he was hospitalized for one month and his mother had to resign from work to take care of him full-time. After hospital discharge, Yan-Ting began undergoing rehabilitation at the new center. Yan-Ting especially wants to improve his hand functions because there are many things he cannot do, like riding his motorcycle, cooking or simply doing simple daily tasks. Also, due to pain and hypersensitivity of the hands, he is worried that he will not be able to work in his field of auto mechanics. However, after one month of physical rehabilitation, Yan-Ting is able to handle more and more objects with his hands, and he even started to cook for himself. His self-confidence has also increased, and he now knows that he will be able to recover his hand function. As the eldest son in his family, he is especially relieved to know that he will be able to regain his independence and not be a burden or a source of worry for his mother.
The establishment of the new Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center was made possible thanks to the generous donations of individuals and corporations from Taiwan and abroad, including 7-11, United Way Taiwan, Trend Micro, Delta Electronic, Michelin, Cigna and Macquarie. Together, they make it possible for burn survivors like Yan-Ting to not only regain the ability to live an independent and active life, but also regain hope for the future.