Dehradun, India-Nicole Friedland, Interplast chief development officer. Photo by John Urban.
The trip is very inspiring but also deeply disturbing. I found myself having trouble sleeping last night because it is so overwhelming. This morning we started to interview the patients to get their stories and photos. The first one was a mother and son who were both badly burned. The mother was sharing her story of an exploding stove. Our local partner came by and told us that he had learned through a source that she had actually put the child in her lap and self immolated, probably due to marital abuse. I actually was overcome and had to leave the room to compose myself. Of course, we can't know the real story, but her little boy's face is just destroyed. He's just five years old and so adorable behind all that terrible scarring across his face. Such a tragic story. Some of these people are grossly disfigured but they are just humans. I feel so badly for them. Both I and the translator were crying several times this morning. These stories are hard to hear and to see, but what is hardest is to see how much suffering is in the eyes of these people.