Tzu Chi volunteers cooled the burn wounds of patients with water and assisted in triage, individually caring for each injured person. (Photo by Dario Nhacale; Nhamatanda, Sofala, Mozambique; 2023/09/06) 

In the right place the right time

In Sofala Province, central Mozambique, on the evening of September 6th, 2023, a small hospital had a tragic accident. An ambulance caught fire due to a gas explosion, and it spread to the exterior walls of the hospital. The cause of the accident was an oxygen leak that ignited while a 16-year-old pregnant woman was undergoing a delivery procedure.

A group of Tzu Chi volunteers who live in a Tzu Chi dormitory just over 100 meters (about 328.08 ft) away from the hospital, heard the explosion and rushed to the scene to help.

When they arrived, they found the ambulance engulfed in flames. Its crew had managed to escape, but the pregnant woman, who was convulsing during delivery and was tied to a bed inside the burning vehicle, could not escape. Even her newborn baby was left in the burning ambulance.

Tzu Chi volunteers swiftly identified the hospital's shortage of medical supplies and immediately helped to purchase them. Denise Tsai (second from left), Luisa Sheila Chambala (right), and Ilda Nuvunga (second from right). (Photo by Dario Nhacale; Nhamatanda, Sofala, Mozambique; 2023/09/06)

Without a second thought, Tzu Chi volunteer Soares reached through the window and rescued the baby. But he could not save the mother before the entire vehicle was consumed by the fire. The tragedy claimed the life of the baby's mother and left 12 individuals with varying degrees of injuries.

The construction team members and volunteers rushed to the site of the fire incident to assist. They urgently contacted a closed supermarket to purchase drinking water and other essential supplies and brought them back to support the hospital. ‌(Photo by Dario Nhacale; Nhamatanda, Sofala, Mozambique; 2023/09/06)

In the chaos that ensued, Tzu Chi volunteer Denise Tsai organized Tzu Chi vehicles to transport the severely injured to a hospital in the provincial capital of Beira, for treatment. Those with minor injuries were treated at the local hospital. But, upon admission, it was discovered that essential supplies such as gauze and saline were lacking. The volunteers quickly reached out to a closed convenience store, requesting it to allow the volunteers to purchase the necessary supplies. They were eventually able to properly dress the wounds of the injured.

We Will Take Care of You

Tzu Chi volunteers visited the surviving baby, in the arms of the volunteer Soares who rescued her, cherishing the precious life. She was peacefully sleeping in his embrace. (Photo by Dario Nhacale; Nhamatanda, Sofala, Mozambique; 2023/09/15) 

Due to a lack of sufficient clothing for the little baby, the child's grandmother sought help from Tzu Chi. On September 15, volunteers brought clothes to the family and dressed the baby in a new outfit. The surviving baby is now being cared for by her aunt. Tzu Chi volunteers will continue to provide ongoing support and wish her a safe and blessed upbringing.

Story by Emmy Chen, 2023/10/17