Sufia, age 17, lives in the burn unit of the Dhaka Medical College. It has been her home for the last eight months and before that she lived in the district hospital of Narail, about 150 miles north of Dhaka, for five months. She has not known any other home since she was burned.
Here is the story of how she suffered her disabling burns. The rice harvest was done. The men bundled the paddy and threw it in a high heap in the middle of the courtyard. It is the women’s job to process the plants into edible grain – get the grains off the stems, dry it, husk it in the foot pedal and store it. In addition, all the routine cooking and housework of course had to be done. Sufia was at wits end about how to cope with her two sons – the 4-year old did not need much, but the two-month-old son wanted to be breastfed every two hours.
She had a heated quarrel with her 55-year-old husband and went to bed after dinner. As it was Ramadan, she’d have to get up at 3 AM to cook the meal that they would eat before sunrise; nothing to eat is allowed, not even water, during the day.
In the middle of the night, she woke up with a start to find someone sitting on her chest holding her mouth shut. It was her husband – his brother tied her both hands over her head, another brother tied her both feet together. They dragged her off the bed to the corner of the room, poured a cold fluid that smelled like kerosene that was used to fuel the lamps, set her on fire and fled...
To read more about Sufia and the rest of the patients and volunteers in Dhaka, Bangaldesh, please visit the Dhaka, Bangladesh surgical volunteer team blog.