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The Scars Remain, but the Pain is Gone

One girl’s story of miraculous healing after a horrific burns accident.


burns survivor

Rihanata’s winning smile belies the pain and suffering she has endured in the past couple of years.

The seven-year-old sponsored child slipped and fell into a large cooking pot outside her home in Leo, Burkina Faso. She was badly burned by the hot liquid inside, suffering third to fifth-degree burns across 80 percent of her body. Her mother Nematou rushed to be with her daughter at the local hospital.

“I have never seen someone feel as badly as my daughter," she says, remembering that awful day. "I couldn’t even hold her, because she had been burned on different parts of her body. It was hard for me to see my only daughter bleeding and screaming in pain. I thought it was finished, and I started to weep too."

Rihanata's burns were so bad that doctors quickly realised they would need to transfer her to the country's capital, Ougadougou - 200 miles away – if she was to have any chance of survival.

burns survivor family

However, the hospital fees were out of reach for Rihanata's family. They were faced with the horrible realisation that they simply could not afford the care needed to save their cherished child's life.

But this was when Compassion and the local church came alongside the family.

Funds from Interventions

Rihanata was already registered with a Compassion project at a nearby church, and the team there answered her mother's desperate call for help.

A health specialist at the project, Patrice, travelled in an ambulance with the family to the hospital in Ouagadougou, and Compassion pledged to pay for all of her treatment using funds from our Health Interventions.

burns survivor and compassion health specialist

Rihanata was admitted into intensive care, where doctors gave her pain relief and planned surgery to repair her skin and cover the large burns on her legs, arms, stomach and face.

In the end, Rihanata spent 15 months in the paediatric hospital at Ouagadougou.

“Not abandoned”

Nematou says she was touched by the great love and support provided by Compassion throughout this incredibly difficult time.


The project staff provided every kind of support, and I didn’t feel abandoned.


"Patrice travelled regularly from Leo to Ouagadougou to visit Rihanata. He also called every three days to get information about her health status."

In all, Rihanata's treatment cost $1,000 USD, an amount funded entirely by Compassion Interventions

Aside from this financial help, Patrice remembers clearly how Rihanata's love of Jesus, fostered by the Compassion project, had given her courage and determination in her recovery.

“Rihanata kept praying to Jesus for her healing" he said. "One day, when I was leaving the paediatric area, Rihanata reminded me and said that I shouldn’t go without praying for her recovery. I stopped and prayed, and she said ‘Amen!’"

Rihanata, meanwhile, remembers how her faith helped her:


The doctors said that I’d be healed, and I believe that it was God who healed me. Now I feel good without pain. Everything is back to normal, even if I still keep the scars on my body.


One courageous burns survivor

After many difficult operations, Rihanata was finally able to leave hospital and return to her family.

She's now enrolled in primary school and is doing really well. Her positive attitude has amazed both her tutors and her family.

brave burns survivor

If you were to pay her a visit today, you'd find a happy girl who loves to play. Her favourite games are hopscotch, hide-and-seek, and running around the house with her cousins.

And although her scars are still visible, she is no longer in pain.

She continues to attend the local Compassion programme, and hopes to fulfil her dreams.
Her mother Nematou believes that Rihanata’s healing is a miracle, and says that her daughter's future would have been very bleak without Compassion's help.

"At a certain point I was desperate and wanted to run away from the hospital with my daughter. But Compassion saved the life of my Rihanata following this accident," she says.



WORDS : Serge Ouegraogo, Victoria Scott

PHOTOS : Serge Ouegraogo


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