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Tiny Treasures of Love...

Tender Care for Young Burn Victims in New Zealand

In July 2003, a devotee was in the office of his printing company in a suburb of South Auckland, New Zealand, and happened to notice a small column in one of the local newspapers. It said that the burns unit of the children’s wing at a public hospital was struggling to find funds to purchase specialist therapeutic toys that the staff could use to help in the rehabilitation of children who had been admitted with serious burns.

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The city of Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand

The specialist wing, called ‘Kidz First Hospital’, is part of the Middlemore Public General Hospital that serves a large community in the South Auckland region and comes under the control of the South Auckland Health Foundation. The hospital, as are all public hospitals in New Zealand, is Government funded and is free to all New Zealand citizens, but still has to rely on the generosity of the local community when a special need arises.

Answering a Special Need

The devotee immediately saw that here was a real need and a great opportunity for the Sai devotees in the Auckland area to help. Without hesitating, he telephoned the Hospital and spoke to the Public Relations Officer offering support and suggesting that a meeting could be arranged. At first, it seemed as if the plan to help would be rejected due to uncertainty on behalf of the Hospital public relations staff; they were unsure whether the offer was genuine or not. Quite a few times in the past, different organisations had offered help, but with certain strings attached such as advertising the event, or something similar.

But, as usual, the devotees saw His Hand working, when after a few weeks, one of the hospital doctors, who happened to be a Sai devotee, was talking to one from the public relations team and was asked if he had heard of the Sathya Sai Organisation. Over a cup of coffee, he explained the philosophy of the Sai Organisation and reassured them that selfless service was the only motivation of Sai Organisation, and that Sathya Sai Baba Himself is continually reminding millions of devotees throughout the world of those precious words, ‘Love All, Serve All’.

The next day, the devotee who had made the original contact, received a telephone call in his office, and was asked if he could meet with the Public Relations Officer, Claire Del, and the head nurse of the burns unit, Robyn Maria at the Hospital. That is how the Lord ensured that the noble intention of the devotees find its fruition.

The meeting was held the next day, and after introductions, informal and friendly discussions went on for some time on how the Sai Organisation could help and in what capacity. It was clear that the need was for the supply of new, specialty water toys that could be used in the saline baths that seriously burned young children were placed in to aid the changing of their dressings. Instead of the suffering small patients concentrating on the terrible pain they experience, these specialist toys placed in the bath with the child would help in taking their minds away from the pain, and give them brief respite, as they reached out to touch and hold the toys. New toys, not used toys were requested, for obvious reasons, as most on the list could only be purchased from one or two specialist suppliers, and also because of health requirements.

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Head Nurse, Ms. Robyn Maria, ready to distribute toys
Eager staff ready to help

Relief of the Kid’s Pain

The Hospital anxiously produced a list, and it was suggested to the Sai Organisation representative that maybe they may find it easier to donate money and the hospital staff could do the purchasing. But after reassuring Ms. Robyn Maria that the purchase list was not a problem, the Sai devotee then explained that this project would be very suitable for each of the ten Sai centres and groups in the larger Auckland area to be involved in, and that it would involve family groups going out, sourcing and purchasing each of the items on the list. This would ensure that these devotees would feel part and parcel of a new service project, and also help in drawing them together as a unit.

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Peaceful gardens...
Beautiful and fun artwork...
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And rooms filled with toys...
All these are a welcome distraction for the traumatised

Altogether, the list totaled over 60 specialist toys with the majority of them to be used in the baths. A date was agreed upon for the first delivery, after which deliveries would be every 4 months for a total of 3 times per year. Thanks to the devotees’ enthusiasm, this service is still carrying on to this day as originally initiated. And Ms. Robyn Maria, head nurse of the children’s burns unit, had these moving sentiments to share in November 2007.

‘God answered my prayers’ - the Children’s Hospital Head Nurse

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Ms. Robyn Maria, Head Nurse of the burns unit

“Kidz First is a dedicated hospital for pediatrics, built with mainly donations from the people in Auckland. There are 80 beds divided into three units: the medical unit, the surgical care unit and the emergency unit.

“One of the most exciting things I have come across is suddenly when you least expect it, someone will say that ‘I know where I can help you’ or ‘I know where we can get that special item that you need’. If someone sees a need that we may have in this Hospital, then I am very happy to work with that person to provide that for the children in this Hospital.

“The first delivery that the Sai Organisation made, a few years back, caused me to burst into tears when they arrived with the delivery. I had been worrying about where to get the finances from to purchase the toys that we needed here, and it was obviously God that answered my prayers.

“We now have an excellent working relationship with the Sai Organisation here in Auckland, and I have been to six centres over the past couple of years, and talked to the members about just how wonderful their donations and collections are to us.

Ongoing Service

“One of the concerns we have with the children who have serious burns is infection. Often they will have to have a bath which is a painful procedure, and it is also quite traumatic for the child. The bath involves a nurse, a parent and quite often a play specialist.

“I think one of the most exciting things I see is how children actually manage to endure a dressing change, and something as simple as blowing bubbles with one of these bubble toys for us is really important, as it gives the children something to concentrate on apart from doing their dressing change. It’s something that is really gentle, and when you ask the children to take a deep breath and blow the bubbles out, you are getting them to relax the muscles in their body. And it is one of the most calming things for them to do at that time. It is something that the child finds really gentle and peaceful in the middle of something that is painful and stressful, we call that a ‘coping strategy’.

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Taking a bath to prevent infection can be painful...
...but can also be fun with the use of a few toys

“One of the things that the Sathya Sai Organisation has done for us is that they have worked very hard in finding and purchasing the most wonderful, soft, and gentle specialist bath toys. The child can reach out and grab them, and it distracts the children from their pain and stress. The whole range of toys that are supplied to us is incredible as there is such a variety, and a big range of toys which really gives the children such a big choice. And what is sweet is that tucked up in the toys that the Sai Organisation donates us are little treasures that can be used in many different ways. Treasures that soothe, treasures that engage, treasures that stimulate, and treasures the children just have great fun with.”

Dear reader, this service initiative maybe tiny, but the impact it has in the Hospital, and the relief it has brought to the troubled little ones can never be overstated – it has to be seen to be really felt. Unfortunately, for reasons of privacy, we cannot have pictures of their special smiles. Bhagavan Baba says, “Joy lies in giving, not in receiving. The bliss that you derive from service is something that cannot be experienced from any other activity.

The thrill that a kind word, a small gift, a good gesture, a sign of sympathy or compassion can bring to the distressed, is something that is beyond words to describe… God will not ask when or where you did service, but with what motive you did it, and what was the intention that prompted you. You may weigh the service and boast of its quantity, but God seeks quality - the quality of the heart, the purity of the mind, the holiness of the motive.”

So wherever we are placed, if we only look around, there are a million ways we can reach out to each other. And no activity is too small. Mother Teresa said, “Without that single drop, the ocean would be less”. Let us keep our hearts filled with compassion and fill our lives with real joy.

- Mr. Doug Saunders
the Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 6 Issue 04 - APRIL 2008
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