I think I’ve just spoken to an angel named Noreen Davern. She’s a massage therapist from Mountains Massage but every couple of years she spreads those angel wings and flys off to South Africa and the Congo to volunteer with the Children of Fire organisation.
Noreen’s first visit in 2007 was originally to work with HIV children but while there one little girl arrived at the clinic with burns and, as a result, Noreen discovered the Children of Fire organisation which exists to help young survivors of burn injuries, whether by fire, chemicals, hot liquids, electricity or even, horrifically, punishment.
Some of these children are so badly disfigured they are shunned which is one of the reasons massage therapy is such a huge benefit to them. Apart from the obvious therapeutic benefits of stretching skin and softening scar tissue, compassionate touch is the thing that seems to bring the greatest response. Noreen says “These children don’t get touched because of their injuries and the way they look so they really love a massage. There was one little boy who I treated one day and the next day he saw me and starting stripping off his shirt in anticipation, until I sadly explained that it wasn’t his turn that day. Lots of people that have not met these brave, courageous children may think that massage has a small impact – not so – massage has a huge impact and a big change in their lives.”
Later this month Noreen heads off to South Africa for a few days and then on to the Congo to meet up with some more angels in the form of a surgical outreach team who will be performing 100 operations on burnt children. This group of 12 are all self-sponsored volunteers from Australia, Germany, Wales, South Africa, the Congo and Italy.
I was curious to know how these trips and this work affected her. “I did a material clearance of objects in my house when I got back from my first trip, a huge de-clutter, such a horrible feeling of guilt. You realise when you’re back home that flicking a switch you have light, have clean tap water to drink, running water for a shower or bath, nutritious food to eat, mobile phones, internet, a clean place to live then you realise you have taken so much for granted and these smiling people in these villages know no different. I believe that the way we live our lives affects people in other countries. We are all one. We are all connected.”
Noreen tries to impart her knowledge to local teachers, carers and nurses so when she has to return home, they can carry on providing massage. The only problem with that is the lack of available equipment so Firm-n-Fold have happily donated two portable massage tables that Noreen will take over and leave there at the end of this trip.
Both Noreen and a one of her staff, Takako Jawor (another angel), have both been awarded AMT Massage Therapist of the Year in 2008 and 2013 respectively. This year’s award was for, among other things, fundraising by massaging at festivals, all the proceeds of which were of course donated to the Children of Fire organisation.
The irony that the lady who works with Children of Fire comes from the Blue Mountains, which has just been decimated by bushfire, is not lost on us. True to form, Noreen was down at the Rural Fire Brigade HQ for the 6am shift change to work her magic on the exhausted firefighters who she considers to be the real angels!
For more information on this charitable organisation or if you’re interested in volunteering visit http://www.firechildren.org/ or contact Noreen http://www.bmwellnesscentre.com/page4.htm