7th June 2010
Winter warning (southern hemisphere)
Children of Fire helped survivors of two domestic fires in the past week, in formal brick-built housing in Alexandra Township.
Both fires were triggered by electrical faults.
The first was in the three-roomed home of an asthmatic diabetic woman Nomsombuluko Zulu (55) in 19th Avenue, who also had high blood pressure, had suffered a heart attack and was in hospital before the fire. She had an oxygen cylinder in her house, to help with her asthma.
When the fire started as flames came out of an electrical socket, maybe it could have been contained. But with the oxygen cylinder, there was no chance. It exploded.
Her daughter Nolwazi Zulu (31) her sister (36), her daughter Masadi (18) a matriculant, two of her sister's sons Gift (14) and Sipho (16), were among the extended family who lost all their possessions.
Another fire in 9th Avenue three days later was also attributed to an electrical fault. Jack Makhupetsi, a taxi driver lost everything he owned apart from a sofa that his neighbours dragged out for him.Neither family had any insurance for their homes, nor for the contents.
Now while most of those that we help are burned in squatter camp homes and rural huts, people are also burned in formal housing.
Fires and burns increase in winter months.
This is just your own safety reminder.
If there is a power cut, and you use a candle, use it in a secure holder and not near a curtain or anything else likely to come near the flame.
Do not stick it on a saucer, but use a proper holder. Even a jam jar half-filled with sand is better than a saucer.
Do not place a "night light" or short fat candles directly on the edge of a bath - most modern baths are made of a type of plastic and if the candle is forgotten, it will melt through the plastic and start a house fire.
Do not leave candles unattended and do not leave children alone with candles or access to candles and matches.
Buy a fire extinguisher.
Get it serviced once a year.
Buy a smoke alarm.
Teach your family an escape route.
Identify the weakest family members (little ones and grandparents usually) and talk about how they would get out if there was a fire.
Agree where the keys are and make sure even young children learn how to use them.
Teach the children to crawl low under smoke (the air is cleanest close to the ground).
Teach children to get out, even if the grownups keep sleeping (maybe already overcome by smoke).
Check your household electricity.
80 per cent of electrical compliance certificates (in South Africa) are false.
Now in a recession you think you cannot afford to make your electricity safer. Can you afford to die?
The most common burns are still due to hot liquids. Boiling pots on the stove reached for by a curious toddler's hand, can leave a child without a scalp for ever.
Mothers drinking hot tea with their child on their laps, cause devastating injury when the child suddenly moves and the tea spills all over them.
Don't misuse appliances. Heaters are not clothes driers.
Stoves are not heaters.
Bar heaters are not peanut roasters.
Winter is a time of danger. Avoid it. You know how.
Candle in the Wind
It is below freezing in the Maluti, the Drakensberg, the Magaliesberg, the Highveld, even the Soutpansberg. What better time of year to empathise with the miserable conditions of at least four million South Africans who continue to live in makeshift shacks? To imagine them huddled around a tiny paraffin stove for warmth. To picture the guttering flame of a lone candle in the wind.
Fifteen years after Dorah Mokoena lost her face and hands to the flames of a fallen candle, her will to survive has led to a remarkable advertising campaign that will save lives.
Children of Fire, assisted by Saab, is shooting adverts this week, that look at three causes of terrible injury and death: candles, hot water and lack of escape routes.
The adverts are part of an intended campaign of ten typical burns scenarios.
While the charity is contributing the intellectual capital, it has some unusual allies. A car company and schoolchildren contributed to the costs. Renowned advertising agency The Jupiter Drawing Room provides the creative input and copywriting. Family Films adds the pizzazz and latest technology. Burns survivor Tapera Jani (3) plays a unique role. And then there's the little Reconstruction-and-Development Programme house in Newclare, Johannesburg, and other locations that bring it to life.
It's a pendulum of emotions swinging between images of life and nearly-death.
As the thin curtain sallies back and forth in the breeze and the candle flame flickers, so the hectic sounds of words pile up and up and up in a crescendo of imminent doom. If you don't blow out that flame, then neighbours, relatives, fire fighters, paramedics, nurses, doctors, surgeons and so many more, will have to figuratively blow out its damage, for you. Blow out its damage for the child lying there, maimed for ever.
When the advertisement is aired, remember what you read here.
Remember that single indifferent moment when a mother went out and left her child alone with a candle.
Dorah, for one, will never forget.
Jupiter Drawing Room
Copywriter Thembalethu Msibi (biographical notes below)
Creative Director Jonathan Deeb (bio notes below)
Assistant Lutho Mgadle
Creatives previously also involved: Chiquita King; Matthew Barnes.
Director: Chloe Coetsee (bio below)
Producer: Adam Thal (bio below)
Director of Photography: Robert Wilson (bio below)
Actors: Rea Maladi, Sibusiswe Nkopo, Emmanuel Jackson, Tapera Jani (burns survivor).
Children of Fire's Director Bronwen Jones first pulled together a list of ten topics and scenarios in early 2006.
Others in the team who have contributed ideas include: Lindiwe Ngwenya, Africa Outreach Manager; Christopher Wilson, Central Africa Project Manager; Tristan Jones, Fire Fighter and researcher; Marietta Neumann, Medical Researcher; Mitta Lebaka, Burns Survivor and intern.
Why the delay from 2006 to 2009?
In August 2006, Children of Fire was defamed by a television station. Despite that, by being open about the facts in a meeting four weeks post-defamation, an insurance giant offered to sponsor the charity with a vehicle and ultimately to pay the cost of producing the infomercials.
This was agreed to go ahead in January 2008 with filming in February 2008. Around that same time, an alleged government agent from Sudan, hell bent on preventing the charity from helping a Sudanese burns survivor, sent a copy of the defamatory television programme to the board of the insurance company.
The massive financial support for the infomercials was then withdrawn without explanation and without communication.
After attempts to film the adverts with a Soweto cameraman and a British film student, it was decided to seek the expertise of The Jupiter Drawing Room for a more seasoned approach.
Greenside High School pupils in Johannesburg had raised money to help with the project and Saab also made a significant commitment.
The three Adverts that Educate are the first step in a series of infomercials that Children of Fire hopes can be used across the continent of Africa for years to come.
How many lives might have been saved and how many injuries prevented if the initial safety advert campaign had been shot, edited and aired before the winter of 2008, we will never know. But lives would have been saved and that thought can rest in the minds of the malicious defamers for ever.
Chloe Coetsee - Director
She's a 27 year old energetic, creative arm-waving director with ash-blonde Annie-type-curls, whose core focus and skills lie in docudrama-style productions with real people and real scenarios. Coetsee has directed commercials and music videos for big blue chip clients such as Multichoice, Discovery Channel, Samsung, Sony BMG and lots more. Coetsee has won numerous awards including three Promax awards (a marketing and design awards annual event normally in the USA but it also roams the globe), a Gold Loerie, a Pendoring award (award in South Africa for Afrikaans advertising products) and recently a Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions; the most prestigious advertising award ceremony that takes place annually in Cannes, France. The highest award you can win is a Grand Prix. She is passionate, enthusiastic and funny, calling lots of things "kif" and "hoiing" ideas around.
Adam Thal is quite quiet compared to Coetsee, but he's also 27 years young. A former Afda student with an honours degree in Motion Picture Medium, his work Kofifi was shortlisted at the International Berlin Film Festival in 2004. He is executive director of Earthbox Southern Africa, co-founder of Star Productions and now part of Family Films. He has produced 15 music videos, 20 commercials and five short films. He hopes to "push the boundaries, dream and to realise the impossible".
Robert Wilson (43) is a Director of Photography, a Camera Operator and a Focus Puller. He has worked for clients ranging from Omo to Toyota, Mazda, Chicken Licken, Nandos and South African Airways to Johnny Walker, Tastic Rice, Hyundai, Discovery, Sunlight (soap powder), Action Aid and many more. He's also worked on films such as Hotel Rwanda and Flight of the Phoenix.
The Jupiter Drawing Room:
Thembalethu Msibi has been at The Jupiter Drawing Room for more than four years. In that time her creative efforts have been devoted to numerous brands such as Absa, Discovery Health, SAA, Sasol and lately Luster's hair care and Children of Fire. A trained copywriter and a natural dancer, with a "managed" passion for making furniture, she sometimes knocks together a few wobbly bits on weekends or just sleeps. She also like writing and reading books about women who change the world and daydreaming about how to lose ten kilograms without doing a single thing.
Jonathan Deeb has Lebanese roots. He has been working at the Jupiter Drawing Room for some years now, on banking, Bettaway and beer. He is known for a campaign to differentiate Absa Capital from its competitors through the 60 second intricate animation of 'Born to Redefine'. All animation was carried out by McGuff.
Also to re-launch the ABSA Capital brand in South Africa. Deeb and colleagues produced "The Power of 3" in 100 limited edition manifestos sent to the top 100 business people in country. Termed "The Cubism Manifesto" each edition contained 99 pages of design, typography, illustration and photography that delivered the Power of 3 philosophy to individuals who could best benefit from ABSA Capital's investment knowhow. The result was that Absa Capital's profits rose 51 per cent.
He also worked on the Absa Currie Cup television commercial in a team effort between Jupiter Drawing Room and Fresh Eye Film Productions.
Shot at Ellis Park, it showed a fan in the stadium trying to eat a hotdog while the child behind keeps kicking his chair. The hot dog landed on the ground three rows ahead. The facial expressions of the actors carried the commercial. Jupiter creative Deeb said he set out to entertain. "We delivered within a tight deadline and the performance was funny."
Then working on Bettaway's multivitamins, "Our brief was to conceptualise and create an inventive TV campaign on a restricted budget within a week," said Deeb, then Art Director. "It is amazing that we managed to flight the campaign within three weeks of the client's brief." Each of the three advertisements gave a light-hearted approach to vitamin supplementation, with only 10 seconds with which to engage the viewer. Deeb said "To create the greatest visual impact, we placed each of the ads in a separate era, specifically the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s." Deeb said: "Although the ads are slightly off-the-wall, they delivered a strong product message."
And Deeb worked on beer. Castle Light drinkers are said to be a step ahead and in control. They can drink for longer and still retain the respect of their peers. That is the message in two Castle Lite commercials moving it to become the premium beer of choice for young, aspiring and professional black people, aged 24 to 35. The first of the 45-second commercials produced by Fresh Eye and named 'slide' was set in a pub with a funky barman, who slid glasses of beer down the bar counter so fast no-one could catch them. Then he sent a Castle Lite bottle hurtling down the counter and an avid fan of the brand dives over everyone to grab the beer. The voice over at the end says: "CASTLE LITE - the one to have when you are having more than one."
Deeb is a founding member of the South African Lebanese Education Advancement Foundation (SALEAF) registered in 2006. The founding members pledged to donate sufficient funds to enable SALEAF to fund at least one qualifying student in his/her tertiary education in 2007. Other members and directors include people working in accounting, banking (Absa, Peregrine), marketing, surgery, washing powder, mining and the law.
So all this talent is combining to help Children of Fire in its mission to prevent burns injury, while also trying to improve life quality for those who have been burned.
For more information, contact:
The Jupiter Drawing Room
Children of Fire
Children of Fire is working on a series of safety infomercials for public television and for use in schools, tackling the primary causes of fire and burns injury.
Children of Fire has started shooting Safety Infomercials to teach people the dangers of every day items.
The crew started filming at Chubb premises in Midrand, Gauteng, in July 2008.
Thanks to Chubb and to Sony for their help.
Cameraman/director, sound recorder/engineer and communications manager: Nicky Makgamathe, Joyce Makoeng and Pete Jones .. pictured in serious and in silly mood