On Monday (25 July 2016), the High Commissioner to South Africa Dame Judith Macgregor held an investiture ceremony at her residence in Pretoria. During the ceremony Bronwen Jones, founder and director of Children of Fire International, was presented with the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to young survivors of burn injuries in South Africa.
Speaking at the occasion Dame Judith Macgregor said:
It is in recognition of these valuable services that Her Majesty The Queen has conferred upon you a British Empire Medal. It is with great pleasure that I present you with your Medal. Many congratulations.
Eight children were also presented with medals for outstanding achievement in various areas such as academic performance, hardwork and great humour.
Bronwen started her work thirty years ago after giving up a career in journalism. She has since dedicated her life to children in Africa that have been severely injured in fires. She founded the organisation after she took on the challenge to help Dora Mokoena (now Jones). Dora is believed to be the most badly burnt child in the world to survive a shack fire when she was 7 months old. Bronwen challenged herself to obtain funding for reconstructive surgery to save Dora’s eyes and rebuild her face. She has since adopted Dora and Sizwe, another burn survivor.
Children of Fire International now educates marginalised communities on fire prevention and how to attend to burn injuries. It promotes the tolerance of physical disfigurement through media campaigns and educational talks. Where possible they try to arrange surgery through state systems and the private sector. The organisation also funds equipment and provides an extensive range of post traumatic care for burns survivors including psychological counselling to deal with trauma and distress.
The organisation has seen 350 children through complicated surgery to date.