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American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad, Inc., also known as AYUDA, is a small organization with a lofty goal: to bring the diabetes camp experience to underprivileged children and youth with type 1 diabetes around the world.
For the past three years, I have been a volunteer camp counselor. In August 2007, we held our eighth diabetes camp, Campo Amigo Ecuador, in Quito, Ecuador.
Eleven-year-old Lisette was one of our campers. Small for her age, she has cataracts, hearing problems, an A1c of 11%, and a troubled home life. When she arrived at camp, her blood sugars were constantly in the 300 to 400 range. One day, when we finally got her into the 100s, she came running up to me and said how much better she felt. Then she ran off again to play with her new friends.
All I could do was smile, but I really wanted to cry. By the end of camp, Lisette was injecting herself and drawing her own insulin doses. She told me that she wanted to come back next year, and I told her that I'd be waiting for her.
We are able to help children like Lisette because of our volunteers, passionately idealistic youth and healthcare professionals from all over the world who raise money and give their time to make diabetes camp a reality for children in developing countries. We have only two full-time and one part-time staff members. Everyone else, including the members of our Board of Directors and Advisory Board, is a volunteer.
Laurie Basloe volunteered as a camp counselor for the first time this summer. She's had diabetes for twenty years and, like me, had never been to a diabetes camp until Campo Amigo Ecuador. As her initial shock over the campers' lack of diabetes education wore off, Laurie set about debunking the many misconceptions the campers had about diabetes, especially their fear that they were doomed to become fat and blind.
"I was baffled by a girl who ate only apples, cucumbers, and broccoli for fear of not being in control if she ate other foods," Laurie said. "As each day passed, it was incredible to see how much the girls grew and how eager they were to continue learning more about their health. I was proud to be at Campo Amigo as a counselor, role model, friend and camper in my own way."
In 2008, we would like to hold a camp in Belize, a country where twelve percent of the populace has diabetes and diabetes healthcare professionals are practically unknown. We'd also like to eventually bring camps to Bermuda and Eastern Europe. To do this, we need your help. Our volunteers do their best, but a small organization like ours can only go so far without outside support. Please consider donating to AYUDA and helping children around the world who have diabetes. For more information, visit our website at www.ayudainc.net.
Juntos somos más fuertes. Together we are stronger.
Sep 28, 2007
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.