For our first post of the new year:
My recent trip to Haiti as an AYUDA volunteer involved a lot of “firsts” for me:
I was so excited to get to Haiti that I barely slept at all during the nights leading up to my trip. I arrived in Port-au-Prince exhausted but eager to get started. We spent our first few days learning about Haiti and the diabetes community in the country, meeting with FHADIMAC youth leaders, planning camp activities, and visiting the capital’s university hospital. After three days in Port-au-Prince, we headed to camp for a whirlwind few days of nutrition trivia games, 1am blood glucose checks, and a few very competitive rounds of musical chairs. Camp was equal parts fun and educational, with just a dash of exhaustion thrown in for good measure. Some moments were hectic and some were hilarious. My favorite experiences at camp were seeing the campers supporting and learning from each other. When we invited campers to talk about their experiences living with diabetes, more than one camper began with ,“When I was diagnosed, I thought I was completely alone,” or “When I was diagnosed, I thought I was going to die.” They now know that they are not alone and that they can live happy, healthy lives with diabetes. That’s a pretty powerful change. Watching campers realize that there are people all over Haiti, and all over the world, living and thriving with diabetes was one of the highlights of my trip. I am so thankful for both AYUDA and FHADIMAC. I can’t imagine sharing this experience with a better group of people – I spent my week in Haiti laughing and dancing and learning, and I can’t wait to go back.
Maria Velasquez Director of Programs
AYUDAtel: (267)239-3467, email: email@example.com
skype: maria.velasquez25 cell: (267) 239.3467
VISIT US web: www.ayudainc.net facebook: ayudainc twitter: @ayudaincEMPOWERING YOUTH TO SERVE AS AGENTS OF CHANGE IN DIABETES COMMUNITIES ABROAD~Juntos Somos Más Fuertes! Together We Are Stronger!~
The eight days I spent this summer in Santo Domingo with the Ganémosle Program made it clear that that AYUDA’s assistance is both crucial and welcomed. Our visit to Robert Reed’s public children’s hospital illustrated this, revealing the hardships of diabetic life in the Dominican Republic. Through the crowded halls we walked, witnessing the strange mixture of joy, shock, anxiety and despair that only a hospital can offer. A frail boy, with bones hardly able to support him, hobbled by with the help of crutches and his nurse’s support. The doctor touring us noticed that I was looking and said to me,“he has diabetes.” The only difference between him and I is that, being from Canada, I have had the education, access to medicine, and support from others living with diabetes that provided me with the essential building blocks to learn to live healthily with diabetes.
These things, that I have had and he doesn’t, are what AYUDA and Aprendiendo a Vivir (our Dominican partner) are working to offer and cultivate in the DR. Our mission is key to ensuring these young people live and thrive with diabetes.
For the rest of the week in Santo Domingo we raised awareness in the streets, conducted an educational program in San Pedro, and amped up for the big day: Ganémosle 2014’s 5K, 10k, and Zumba fitness festivities.
The events drew thousands to Santo Domingo’s central park, among them local celebrities and professional athletes. That morning we ran an educational day camp for young people living with diabetes, while their parents participated in the race. I was with the 4-7 year olds and taught them how to best react to extreme blood sugars and how to recognize which foods have carbohydrates and which don’t.
The race was hugely successful as it raised awareness of diabetes to those who knew nothing about it and had the participation of the entire city. At the end of the day I was doing yoga with an eager, smiling six-year old, who was a pupil at our day camp. After giggling at my inflexibility she tapped me in the shoulder and said that she had something to say to me “en ingles.” She then hugged me tightly around the waist and said, “Thank you forever.”