Chaya Malka Abramson founded the CHAYA MALKA BURN FOUNDATION in 2003. While in Toronto she spoke about types of burns, prevention, and treatment. The following is an interview done by TFM with Chaya Malka and important prevention and treatment information that she shares with her audiences.
How long has your foundation been in existence?
I began visiting burn patients 30 years ago to offer support
and advice based on my own experience as a burn victim.
These visits were extremely helpful and I was a positive role
model for them. Here I was a survivor who endured the
painful and difficult healing process and emerged as a fully
Officially, I began the organization 11 years ago while on a
visit when I was approached by one of the burn patients to
collect funds to help defray the incredible costs of pressure
suits and creams that are not totally covered by the health
insurance plans. I agreed, though I had no experience as a
fundraiser. Since then, the Chaya Malka Burn Foundation
has helped hundreds of burn victims become burn survivors.
From my own experience of years wearing pressure
garments, I know that the Israeli summer heat is impossible
to bear. Therefore the Chaya Malka Burn Foundation also
provides funds to pay for air conditioners, so there is at least
one room in the home where a burn patient can find respite
during summer heat waves. Therapy is very often necessary
and we help fund that as well.
Is there a particular reason why you started this
Yes. I was home alone with my elderly grandmother and 3
children, all sleeping, in my apartment in the Old City of
Jerusalem when there was a sudden gas explosion. I rescued
all of them by entering and re-entering my burning home.
Unfortunately and unknowingly I received 2nd and 3rd degree
burns over 85% of my body in the process. In spite of the
odds against survival, I am here today, Baruch Hashem. The
fire was 32 years ago.
The pain and trauma of bandage changes and wound
cleaning twice a day for 4 months is something I will never
forget. Any advice or prevention information that I can share
with others may spare them from the terrible suffering I
Our foundation works on burn prevention education and
teaches First Response Burn Care. In Israel, most people do
not know about the concept of “STOP DROP & ROLL” if one
is on fire, so we educate them. Today we know that STOP
DROP & ROLL does not work when one is wearing synthetic
clothing. One needs to use water or dirt to put out the
smoldering clothes. I speak to a lot of high school girls as
they are often the ones responsible for the well-being of
children as babysitters, teachers, counsellors, and of course,
mothers. I find that is the best way to get the information
What are your credentials?
I studied fashion design at FIT, and then finished my BA in
painting and sculpture at U Conn.
I am honest, I love the Jewish people, and I have a need to
share information that could be helpful to others. I have
survived 2nd to 3rd degree burns to over 85% of the body…
so I have been there…I understand. Sometimes I am the
only person that a burn victim will speak to.
I co-authored the book “Who by Fire”, that tells our story,
published by Feldheim.
I am the mother of 10 children. Our 9th child was born with
Down Syndrome and is now 21. Our youngest is almost 19
years old and is now studying Special Ed.
Does your foundation serve solely as a fund raiser or
do you work in conjunction with doctors and other
professionals to teach people about burns?
We work with doctors, nurses, and burn experts. We
network with different burn centres in California, Phoenix,
Johannesburg, and the Sheba Medical Center in Israel to
get an idea of the newest treatments that work to hasten
the healing of burns, to eliminate trauma, and to reduce
We are trying to facilitate first aid neighbourhood burn
stations in Israel and abroad that can assist a burn patient,
as a stepping stone to the hospital or just as a kindness to
direct, to advise and to help them with the quickest method
to draw out the heat of the burn, as the benefit of immediate
response to a burn is so great.