Akhanani is a 12-year-old boy from Khayelitsha in Cape Town. He is a sports fanatic who is crazy about soccer. He has a quiet, respectful personality and a gorgeous smile with pearly white teeth that positively lights up the room. Soccer is the one thing that brings Akhanani out of his shell and this passion would prove to be a lifesaver for him.
On 7 October 2017, Akhanani and his mother suffered a horrendous ordeal when their home caught fire. It’s not sure how the fire started but a bystander helped Akhanani and his mother escape the blazing fires. His mother was taken to the nearest hospital and Akhanani to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. Akhanani is an only child and when his father and stepmom arrived at their house the following day, they heard the terrible news and immediately rushed to the hospital.
Both Akhanani and his mother suffered third-degree burns all over their bodies as well as smoke inhalation. Akhanani’s hands, head and face were badly burnt. To add to this poor child’s trauma, not only did their house burn down to the ground, Akhanani also had to hear the sad news that his mother had passed away due to her injuries.
The news of his mother’s death placed Akhanani in a dark, depressive state, making his recovery and rehabilitation extremely difficult. For days, he was not receptive to anyone. However, once the therapist discovered his passion for soccer and gave him the opportunity to watch a live soccer game as well as meeting Bennie McCarthy and his team at the Cape Town Stadium, it was as if he was given a new lease on life. His eyes lit up and suddenly there was light at the end of the tunnel for this brave boy. The process became easier and Akhanani was well on his way to recovery.
Akhanani spent nearly two months in the C2 Burns Ward while he recovered from his injuries. He had to undergo various skin grafting surgeries on the worst afflicted areas of his body. A holistic approach including medical procedures, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, aromatherapy, art therapy as well as cultural therapy ensured that Akhanani received treatment in all aspects concerning his overall healing.
Today he happily lives with his dad, stepmom and half-siblings. He has recovered sufficiently to return to school for his final year and will attend the Red Cross Children’s Hospital as an outpatient as often as required. Dr Rene says: “His recovery has been outstanding and he has adapted very well with himself and the world around him.”
We wish this courageous young boy a happy and bright future. We are inspired by his strength, courage and tenacity.