Guido, FDJE youth leader, leading camp protocol
This July, 15 AYUDA volunteers, 2 volunteer mentors, 2 volunteer assistant mentors, and 5 volunteer health care professionals traveled to Quito, Ecuador, to take part in the 2012 Summer Ecuador Volunteer Program (accompanied by AYUDA staff). Over the course of 3 weeks, AYUDA volunteers, working with AYUDA's partner organization the Fundación Diabetes Juvenil Ecuador (FDJE), experienced an extensive training program that prepared them for their in-country experiences, particularly the home visits. They also took part in outreach activities, visiting the homes of their campers; planned camp activities with FDJE youth leaders and became committed Campo Amigo counselors.
For the volunteers, two of the most powerful experiences were the home visits and camp. The goal of the home visits, led by FDJE youth leaders, was not just to give volunteers the chance to meet first-time campers prior to Campo Amigo but most importantly to give new campers the opportunity to connect with their counselors before camp and for parents to feel comfortable with some of the team who would be taking care of their children during Campo Amigo. It also gave volunteers a greater understanding of the daily lives of those living with type 1 diabetes in Ecuador. Volunteers and youth leaders, were able to gather information from families about diabetes care prior to camp, and also answer questions from parents about the program.
The home visits helped prepare volunteers for Campo Amigo Ecuador, which was attended by 72 campers from ages 5 to 18, all with Type 1 diabetes. Working together with youth leaders, counselors-in-training, FDJE’s technical staff, endocrinologists and a medical team, volunteers supported campers through education, nutrition, sports and arts activities during the five-day program.
Learning through doing was a major emphasis of the camps – even meal times served as key learning opportunities with discussions encouraged at each table around portion size and carbohydrate counting.
Below are some thoughts from the volunteers.
Jeanette Schnierle To be honest, I have no idea how anyone could ever choose “negative experience” or “no impact” [when talking about AYUDA]. I learned so much through AYUDA, especially about all the aspects necessary to facilitate change for a global health issue. I only hope that I had an impact on people I was fortunate enough to meet as much as they impacted me. Volunteering with AYUDA has undoubtedly been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and has only reinvigorated my passion and interest in Latin America and working in the global health realm.
Courtney Jones First, AYUDA has helped me with my own diabetes care. I really can’t thank the program enough… after 17 years, I felt like I had kind of lost my way with my management. I feel like I am back on track, and for that I feel grateful. AYUDA has truly opened my eyes to varying levels of healthcare in the world. I realize I have been living in a bubble, and now I want to study more and get back out there and help more. I know that camp wouldn’t have been what it was if I hadn’t have raised $6,000. I think it was also really empowering for campers to see other people with diabetes not from Ecuador…so they can learn that they aren’t alone, and that others are doing okay living with the same condition.
Suzette Morabito “ I don’t have enough space to describe AYUDA’s impact! It not only helped me to understand diabetes with a world perspective but also to embrace my own diabetes. Working with all sorts of people with different perspectives on diabetes helped me to see it in such a new light.”
As always, thank for your continued support of AYUDA and our partners - as AYUDA's motto says "Juntos somos mas fuertes! Together we are stronger! We look forward to continuing to make a measurable differences in the lives of children living with diabetes in Ecuador and beyond.
If you think you might be interested in volunteering in our 2013 programs, our online application process opens on October 19th - check out www.ayudainc.net for further details!
AYUDA medics prepare for campers arrival
Lowering your blood sugar through dance!
Campo Amigo Ecuador 2012!
One of the boys group at camp (11-15yrs)