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Story Publication logo October 26, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors: Open Fire Burns

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Rose Kandodo is cooking nsima, a maize porridge, on an improved cook stove in Nessa village. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2016.
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Globally, cooking smoke causes over 4 million deaths per year. Can improved cookstoves save lives...

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Jacqueline. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Jacqueline. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

Jacqueline, 2,  has just come out of the operating theatre. She suffered severe burns and had to have her second surgery in Kamuru Central Hospital in Malawi's capital Lilongwe.

Loveness. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Loveness. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

Loveness lies in her mother's arms—around 80 percent of her body burned when boiling water fell on her. Unes, her mother, is 18 and cringes when Loveness yelps. Her wounds hurt and cause her difficulty sleeping.

Mary. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Mary. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

Mary suffers from epilepsy. Her face and hair burned when she fell in the fire—she remembers only pain. Now she is getting treatment on the Kamuzu hospital's burn ward and is on the mend.

Jacqueline with Eliza. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Jacqueline with Eliza. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

Jacqueline's mother Eliza and grandmother Aida holding the baby—still dizzy from surgery.

Head nurse. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Head nurse. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

Head Nurse Chrissy Nyiendra inspects the medicine cabinet of her colleague.

Jonah. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Jonah. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

Jonah is 16 years old and suffers from epilepsy. He has been in the hospital for several months now. His mother Gloria explains that he fell in the fire when he suffered a seizure.

Epilepsy. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Epilepsy. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

Many burn victims suffer from epilepsy. Open fires are a dangerous trap for them.

Regina. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Regina. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

Regina Phirie, 24, had a pot with burning fluid fall over her legs. Both legs are burned to the third degree. Regina's mother keeps her company in the hospital and reads to her from the Bible.

Aida. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Aida. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

"When I was cooking he fell in the fire," says Aida, the mother of this two-year-old boy. Her son Chisommo's lower back has been burned to the third degree. Nurse Chrissy laughs when she sees the boy: "When he came in he was so bad, but he is getting better now."

Kamuzu hospital. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.
Kamuzu hospital. Image by Nathalie Bertrams. Malawi, 2017.

Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi's capital. The hospital has a special burns ward. The patients are mainly women and children who were injured in accidents with open fires.

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