Little Raushani (left) gazed at Malaysian volunteer Lo Mei Hua (right), a fateful encounter that changed her destiny. (Photo by Chen Li-Xiu; Bakraur, Bodh Gaya, India; 2023/09/26)

On the morning of September 26, 2023, nine Tzu Chi volunteers left the Tzu Chi Bodh Gaya Chapter in Bihar, eastern India and went to Bakraur Colony to visit a young girl named Raushni Kumari.

Raushani's Fire Tragedy and Fateful Encounter

The sight of two-and-a-half-year-old Raushani is heartrending. When she was just one year old, she accidentally fell from her bed into a fire used for heating. The incident caused severe burns to her face and right hand. Despite immediate treatment at a private clinic and subsequent transfer to a community clinic, Raushani's injuries left indelible scars; physicians deemed them untreatable. It was an encounter between Raushani and a Malaysian Tzu Chi volunteer Lo Mei Hua (駱美花) that transformed her life.

Lo Mei Hua first arrived in Bodh Gaya on May 12, 2023; Raushani was one of the cases she took under her wing. She actively sought out plastic surgeons for her,  from inquiries to scheduling appointments. Nine days later, with other Tzu Chi volunteers, Lo Mei Hua brought Raushani and her mother to the clinic of Dr. Sunjay for evaluation.

Dr. Sunjay recommended an initial phase of skin grafting and reconstructive surgery around Raushani's eyes and upper and lower lips due to the skin drooping; this affected her vision and made her unable to close her mouth.

Raushani (left) and her mother (right) felt helpless on learning of the medical expenses in Dr. Sunjay's clinic. (Photo by Chen Li-Xiu; Bakraur, Bodh Gaya, India)

The diagnosis of Dr. Sunjay brought a long-lost smile to the face of Raushani's mother. However, the surgical medical expenses became a source of great distress. With a family of seven and only the sporadic income from the father's casual labor, they were incapable of bearing this financial burden. Then Lo Mei Hua appealed to the Tzu Chi Headquarters in Hualien, in eastern Taiwan, for assistance to cover the medical costs and bring hope for the treatment of little Raushani.

Hope Arrives: Phase One Treatment

On Lo Mei Hua's request, Tzu Chi agreed to cover Raushani's medical expenses. The surgery was scheduled for May 26, 2023. During the pre-operative examination, it was discovered that Raushani had low hemoglobin levels and needed a blood transfusion. Two days later, the surgery was successfully completed.

The burns not only affected Raushani's facial features but also resulted in muscle contracture in her right palm, making the hand useless. Dr. Sunjay suggested waiting until Raushani's mouth could close and her eyes regain vision before considering corrective surgery for her right hand. He evaluated that Raushani's fingers had a high chance of recovery.

The right palm of little Raushani lost its function due to the burns. (Photo by Chen Li-Xiu; Bakraur, Bodh Gaya, India;2023/09/26)

During the hospitalization, to ease the burden on Raushani's family, Tzu Chi volunteers arranged for her mother, younger brother, and grandmother to stay at the hospital. They provided financial assistance to lighten the family's economic pressure.

Raushani Awaits Phase Two Treatment

Driven by poverty, Raushani's mother once resorted to begging; she showed Raushani's scars to attract sympathy and donations. Initially hesitant about Raushani receiving treatment, her mother eventually gave in to her affection for her child and allowed the surgeries to proceed.

Raushani currently wears a pressure garment on her face for recovery, continuing to play carefree in the village.

On September 26, Tzu Chi volunteers visited Raushani (middle, in pink dress) and took this photo with her, her mother Rika (left), and her siblings. Raushani's facial condition showed a slight improvement. (Photo by Yang Wen-Hui; Bakrarur, Bodh Gaya, India;2023/09/26)

Although Raushani still cannot close her mouth, Tzu Chi volunteers have commenced preparations for the next phase of treatment. In an October 8, 2023 video conference, Dr. Sunjay collaborated with Dr. Yeh Tien-hao (葉添浩) from the Tzu Chi International Medical Association in Taiwan to plan forthcoming surgeries; they focused on reshaping Raushani's nose bridge and restoring hand function.

Online Medical Meeting for Raushani: Lin Jin Yan (right), Dr. Sanjay Kumar (center), Seema (left) (Photo by Yang Wen-Hui; Bakrarur, Bodh Gaya, India; 2023/10/8)

When Dharma Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi, learnt of Raushani's story and medical plans, she expressed great concern. She emphasized that consideration of Raushani's treatment should consider not only physical functionality but also  her appearance.

Raushani's journey to recovery is about to enter its second phase. The hope is that, despite the scars left by the fire, her future path will be smoother and less filled with obstacles.

Author: Wei Yuxian | 2023/10/20
Chinese Editor: Yang Ya Ying