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Michou y Mau Foundation Director General Touts Importance of Child Burn Prevention

Michou y mau

By Karla Ortiz

During most festivals, weddings, or religious events in San Miguel de Allende, one finds people lighting off fireworks and firecrackers. Not all these events take the proper precautionary measures, and the risks of injury can be great to those near unregulated displays. Serious burns, blindness, and limb amputation are just a few of the consequences.

Dr Ricardo Camacho Sanciprián, General Director of Fundacion Michou y Mau (The Michou and Mau Foundation), arrived in San Miguel to present his paper at the Expo ONG (NGO Expo), which took place February 7–8.

The Michou y Mau Foundation is well-known in México for subsidizing the entire cost of treatment for child burn victims at major hospitals in the US and México.

Camacho Sanciprián’s paper discussed his foundation’s function and its mission. It also highlighted precautions to take to prevent serious accidental burns.

“It has to do with people knowing about the foundation and people engaging in prevention,” Camacho Sanciprián said. “Attending to burn victims is 20 percent of our work; we want 80 percent of it to be about prevention.

“Fireworks are very pretty; they are used all over the world,” he said. “But in my opinion, there have to be security measures administered through Civil Protection departments. They have to be regulated and controlled. And there should be prevention campaigns. We have treated San Miguel’s children and [those] from all over the country who have played with fireworks or who have lost a hand with palomas [firecrackers that do not need to be lit in order to ignite].”

When someone suffers a burn, nothing is the same, he said. “That is why one has to watch children; they are very curious. One has to cover electric outlets, make sure they don’t come close to the stove, and watch the water when they take a bath. Eighty percent of burns suffered by children are from boiling liquids, and it’s almost always water, coffee, or a frying pan,” he said. He will be leaving prevention brochures behind with DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) (Comprehensive Family Development) for San Miguel’s use, he said.

A foundation created from fire

It has been 12 years since Camacho Sanciprián joined the foundation, when its president, Virginia Sendel, created a division of the foundation dedicated to treating burn victims and establishing burn units in different parts of the republic. These burn units have equipment paid for by Fundación Rio Arronte (The Rio Arronte Foundation), where Camacho was working at the time Sendel hired him to work with the Michou y Mau Foundation.

Sendel created Michou y Mau 20 years ago after a fire claimed her daughter, Michou, and her grandson Mau. Mau survived the fire at first, but died in a hospital in México after improper care of his serious burns. Michou’s daughter, Camila, also a victim of the fire, was transferred to Shriners Hospital in Galveston, Texas, where after 17 surgeries and medical treatments, she recovered. This galvanizing experience inspired Sendel to found Michou y Mau, which today is the most important NGO of its kind in México, assisting in many burn cases involving children 18 and under.

“Thanks to the foundation, the policy for burn victims has changed in México,” Camacho Sanciprián said.

To date, the foundation has helped 2,114 children with extreme burns, all of whom have been transferred to burn units in hospitals in Galveston, Texas, León, and México City.

“With the support of governments, DIF and the Secretariat of the Navy (which transports patients to the three hospitals), the only thing the foundation contributes is medical care, which is worth between 25,000–30,000 pesos,” he said.

After the recent pipeline explosion in Hidalgo, the foundation helped with the transfer of four injured children who were 18, 17, 15, and 12 years old. The victims are currently patients in Galveston.

Camacho Sanciprián stressed that México has good hospitals with specialists in serious burn injuries; indeed, close to 30 Mexican physicians have specialized at the Shriners Hospital. However, these hospitals tend to be very expensive, he said.

“A patient in intensive therapy can be charged 150,000 pesos per day in a good hospital. Over 30 days, that adds up to 4.5 million; it’s extremely expensive.”

Thanks to the foundation and Sendel’s efforts, Michou y Mau has an agreement with Shriners Hospitals to support families with humanitarian visas so that parents may be with their child during recovery.

The existence of so many NGOs in San Miguel is telling, Camacho Sanciprián said in his address to the NGO expo.

“It allows us to see the importance of an integrated population of expats and Mexicans, including Mexicans from other cities, being unified in purpose.”

He also stressed the importance of innovation, of prestige, and of honesty.

“One has to learn how to be an honest NGO, to have healthy finances, to take stock—to make sure that you are achieving the function for which you were created,” he said.


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