It’s hard to imagine a mother who sets her own baby on fire, leaving them with severe burns.
Sizwe was just a one-year-old when his mother set him alight in his hometown of Durban, South Africa.
“Soon after, I was sent to a children’s home,” said Sizwe now 14, “Then I was chosen out of 1000 children to come and stay with the charity.”
“They said, ‘Do You Want This Kid?'”
The charity, The Children of Fire took Sizwe in and he was later adopted. “They had to test whether I had HIV before I was adopted to make sure I was safe,” he says. He was the first of three burn survivors to be adopted by the same woman, Bronwyn who is also involved in the charity.
The Children of Fire have enabled Sizwe to have ongoing treatment both in the UK and South Africa, but he finds that being a burn survivor is easier in South Africa, “The way you talk to people in South Africa is the way that they will talk to you, regardless. I’m very shy here.”
“People in south Africa don’t look at me like I’m a monster.”
Sizwe has had more than 16 operations caused by severe burns to his hands and face. It’s not the physical pain that hurts him the most, “The staring and the gossiping about me hurt me a lot. I try hiding sometimes so I can’t be recognised.”
Through The Children of Fire, Sizwe has found a passion for swimming and has gone to teach the skill to other children at the charity, “Swimming is the best thing. It’s the only thing that occupies your mind.”
I really like being surrounded by other burns survivors.
With a passion for aviation, ambitious Sizwe now hopes to become “the boss of a company that runs in Heathrow Airport and JFK Airport.”
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