International Women and Children's Burn Foundation (IWCBF)
is a non-profit humanitarian foundation dedicated to healing burn victims in underserved areas of the world by creating clinics which provide ongoing rehabilitation and education to severely burned women and children and train and empower local residents to achieve their clinic’s self-sustainability within the first three years of inception.
The mission of the IWCBF, a 501 C-3 organization, is to help establish comprehensive burn rehabilitation centers and to educate the local medical professionals in developing countries to help improve the physical and psychological conditions and outcomes following burn injuries.
The objective of the IWCBF is to establish or improve the capabilities of the burn medical staff within countries to meet the current and future rehabilitation needs of burn victims on a permanent basis. The training of local health care providers to become both clinically and administratively capable of managing every facet of comprehensive burn rehabilitation is paramount. The objective is explicit and long term.
The vision of the IWCBF is a world in which no human being suffers physically or emotionally from a preventable or repairable burn deformity or injury. To achieve that vision, IWCBF partners with volunteers, other organizations, and oversees medical colleagues in order to educate and empower local communities so that high quality medical care is available where it was not before.
Based in Connecticut, Rick Sieller established the International Women and Children’s Burn Foundation in 2005 to provide burn compression garments, splints, and masks to people whose bodies and limbs have been severely injured. These items work to reduce swelling, maintain healing, and preserve mobility. Sieller learned how to make the custom garments on an industrial machine and then enlisted local seamstresses to make them too, using an "teach the teachers" approach. This, says Sieller, provides a job with a living wage, and in-turn, offers burn victims a priceless service. The effort eliminates overseas suppliers whose costs are prohibitively expensive.
IWCBF has opened comprehensive burn-rehabilitation clinics in nine countries, including Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Sri Lanka, where thousands of people are accidentally burned each year. Most clinics have two trained seamstresses sizing and making garments for patients. He collaborates with or helps to establish "a like" in-country non-governmental organization (NGOs) with the goal of having the clinic self-sustainable within three years.
When Sieller launched his non-profit organization, he recognized that there were too many burn victims, literally thousands, with at least 3 body parts requiring reconstructive surgery. There is simply not enough surgeons to do this reconstructive work. On an early visit to Managua, he toured a clinic with 10 young burn victims, all under the age of 5, badly burned in need of help. There were no pain medicines, no dressings, or supplies. Sieller realized that there wasn’t enough time or money to establish operating facilities, find skilled doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, and support staff. He decided, to "prevent the contractures and deformity following the burn". What the IWCBF could do immediately – and meaningfully - was offer victims relief by providing them with custom compression garments that help prevent skin breakdown and scar maturation. The garments, along with thermoplastic splints, would allow victims to move and position their injured bodies and limbs. Without them, deformity can set in and, over time, future movement can be lost.
Sieller and the foundation has seen children’s chins pasted to chests, hands connected to the back of forearms and elbows permanently bent. The foundation works to prevent constructure and supplies transparent UVEX face masks to prevent scarring and deformity. Authorities measure the extent of the situation. In 2018, the World Health Organization called burns a global public health problem and further reported that an estimated 180,000 deaths occur annually from severe burns with the rate of child deaths over seven times higher in low- and middle-income countries. Sieller maintains that this news is often overlooked. Unknown to most people, he says, is that there are millions of non-fatal burns each year that cause prolonged hospitalization, disfigurement, and disability, often followed by a double-dose of emotional damage: stigma and rejection.
The ICWBF, a 501 (C-3) foundation, using 50 percent of his own money and relies on donors for the rest. Additionally, the organization partners with various organizations to support care for people affected by burn injury.
The IWCBF and Sieller has traveled across the world on more than 110 medical missions since the 1990s. Sieller has helped many people navigate through the healing process both physically and mentally. Mental healthcare is important for victims as well as parents who often suffer associated guilt for not protecting their children from the flame.
2002 - Nicaragua
Sieller/IWCBF establishes first comprehensive rehabilitation clinic in Managua, Nicaragua with partnerships with Aproquen and affiliation with Dr. Charles Horton.
2003 - Dominican Republic
IWCBF establishes second comprehensive burn rehabilitation clinic in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic partnering with Dr. Carlos De Los Santos and Pearl Ort burn unit.
2004 - Guatemala
IWCBF establishes third comprehensive burn rehabilitation program in Guatemala City, Guatemala partnering with Dra. Lourdes Santiso, chief of pediatric plastic surgery at Nino Sano and Hospital Roosevelt.
2005 - Palestine
IWCBF establishes fourth comprehensive burn rehabilitation program in Ramallah and Nablus, Palestine through partnerships with Dr. Eid Mustapha, plastic surgeon from Texas.
2006 - Launching of the Burn Consortium
The Central American and Caribbean Association for the Prevention and Treatment of Children with Burns (the “Burn Consortium”) is launched. The consortium is an eight country alliance of the following: Costa Rico, Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the United States.
2008 - Panama
IWCBF establishes fifth comprehensive burn rehabilitation clinic in Panama City, Panama in the pediatric hospital.
IWCBF President Sieller lectured in Managua, Nicaragua before the International Burn Conference.
Established IWCBF database which is utilized in Sri Lanka and Nicaragua. Pediatric Burn Hospital opens in San Salvador, El Salvador through a public-private partnership.
2010 - Honduras
IWCBF establishes sixth comprehensive burn rehabilitation center in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with Mr. Ramon Sanchez and partner organization Crisaq.
2011 - Sri Lanka
IWCBF establishes seventh comprehensive rehabilitation center in Colombo, Sri Lanka at the National Hospital with partner, Dra. Chandini Perera.
2012 - Nicaragua Anniversary
Ten year anniversary celebration of Nicaragua burn rehabilitation center.
IWCBF President Sieller lectured at the International Society of Burn Injuries (ISBI), Edinburgh, Scotland. IWCBF became member of ISBI rehabilitation committee and the ISBI database committee.
2014 - Guatemala Anniversary
Guatemala celebrates ten years of comprehensive rehabilitation center with one year anniversary of a dedicated burn rehabilitation center which was created through public-private and government partnerships.
2015 - Bolivia
IWCBF mission to Bolivia in June, 2015.
2022 - Nigeria
IWCBF mission to Nigeria in September, 2022.
What We Do
Many times the burns cover the victim's faces. IWCBF offers transparent UVEX face masks to help promote healing, and reduce swelling providing a better more improved healing process.
IWCBF offers thermoplastic splints which allow victims to move and position their injured bodies and limbs. Without them, deformity can set in and, over time, future movement can be lost.
IWCBF offers relief to burn victims by providing them with custom compression garments that help prevent skin breakdown and scar maturation. Sieller learned how to make the custom garments on an industrial machine and