Feleng, 12, Dorah, 20, Bronwen, Zanele 10, Nelson, 11, and Sizwe, 13
Published: 11 September, 2014
by JOHN GULLIVER
SURGEONS are prepared to build a nose soon for badly disfigured Feleng.
They will operate for free but the hospital in East Grinstead wants £9,000 to cover nursing and admin costs.
Feleng is just one of five badly burned youngsters Bronwen Jones has brought over to London from South Africa to raise money to help try and stabilise their lives.
I met this extraordinary woman 12 years ago when she came to Camden from Johannesburg with a terribly burned seven year-old girl called Dorah. She had no nose, no hands, holes in her skull, her lips grafted from her back and only able to see light out of one eye.
At the time I met Dorah, I wrote about her in this column and tried to help Bronwen – a former journalist who lived in Belsize Park before going to South Africa.
Living in Johannesburg Bronwen had soon discovered there was little help for the thousands of children who get burned in fires. And she now devotes her life to helping them.
Now in her mid-50s Bronwen has become a bit of a Mother Theresa figure or a modern “Jesus Christ” which David Astor the late editor and owner of The Observer jokily called her in the 1990s.
I have met many determined women over the years but few compare with her.
She just refuses to take no for an answer in her devoted quest to help the children governments prefer to forget.
And Dorah? I discovered she is now nearly 20 and lives in Bronwen’s other specially adapted home in Pinner.
After dozens of operations and aided by prosthetic limbs, she is able to get about and at times plays on the garden swing. Only those close to her can understand her “short-hand” language. In her badly disfigured state she falls outside the normal criteria for assistance by the state, and Bronwen struggles to get help from both the medical world and officials in social welfare.
I hope readers will try to help by joining in a Monopoly Walk on September 20 covering all the stations on the board game in a 13-mile route around London.
Feleng, who was burned at the age of one month in a shack fire, said: “I know I will never look the same as other children but I would really like to get a nose before I start high school.”
See Bronwen online site www.FireChildren.org