D4D would like to thank Aly, Camp Kudzu and AYUDA volunteer, for connecting us to AYUDA through Jon, and for Jon to connecting us to Melanie and Chris who have been involved with AYUDA for years. It’s a small world. Melanie is creating a CDN chapter at Washington University in St. Louis, and Chris is getting in touch with other students at Boston University to start a chapter there.
Thrive with Diabetes Instead of just Survive with AYUDA
With Chris Noble
*The next article in this newsletter came from a phone interview with Chris Noble and information from the AYUDA website.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you view Diabetes?
Chris has been thriving with Diabetes for over 20 years. He feels lucky enough to have had a lot of opportunities like access to insulin, education, a support system and much more. He doesn’t feel that Diabetes has been a limiting factor in his life. He wants to THRIVE instead of just survive with Diabetes. It is all about perspective. (For instance- He was the captain of his cross country team and a tri-athlete.) Instead of having a condition that is debilitating Chris wants it to be a source of inspiration. Diabetes has been nothing but an opportunity for him. If you look at it intelligently, knowing and using resources, you can live a long successful life. This might not have always been available 20 years ago, but in the United States and in other countries this has changed, but there’s still so much more to be done.
What is AYUDA? What’s great about AYUDA?
AMERICAN YOUTH UNDERSTANDING
Means “Help” in Spanish
The AYUDA Story-
“In 1984, José Gabriel, a six-month-old boy in Quito, Ecuador, went into a coma and was diagnosed with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes. Despite the efforts of his parents, both of whom were physicians, José could not stay healthy. His parents spent most of the family’s income on insulin, but to no avail. Eight years later José lapsed into another coma. With no other option, his family saved money and sent their son to the U.S. for treatment where they discovered that a lack of education is as dangerous as a lack of insulin.
AYUDA was founded in 1997 by two teenagers with a vision inspired by the plight of José Gabriel. Since then, AYUDA has grown significantly in capacity and reach to become an organization that is recognized as an international leader in the development and delivery of diabetes education, advocacy and youth empowerment. AYUDA’s successful growth is a product of the diligence and dedication of its volunteers. AYUDA’s volunteers range from high school students to health care professionals. The majority of volunteers that participate in AYUDA’s programs are students in college or graduate school. (AYUDA Website).”
“1.A lack of education is as dangerous as a lack of insulin.
2. Youth can serve as powerful agents of change.
3. Understanding is just as important as doing.”
Chris: AYUDA started in Ecuador 16 years ago with a local foundation camp. They train young leaders, provide education series, information, etc. The program in Ecuador is now at the point they have surpassed AYUDA’s training. The leaders there now implement everything and AYUDA is no longer in a direct teaching role. (They are leaving Ecuador). AYUDA wants the same thing for the Dominican Republic. AYUDA hopes for a fully functioning institution like Ecuador in the Dominican Republic. The next steps are in Haiti, they’ve just started there.
“AYUDA is working with” FHADIMAC, a local Diabetes organization based in Port-au-Prince in 2012. Since then AYUDA has facilitated an international exchange program for youth with Type 1 diabetes in Haiti and neighboring Dominican Republic. (AYUDA Website)” The women who leads it is amazing, her family has been advocating for diabetes health throughout Haiti for generations. During the earthquake in 2010, her foundation kept running, and it became well recognized at local as well as international levels. They primarily offered education before the earthquake but became a main health care center then. The foundation has a great infrastructure in education, and they are going to empower young leaders through AYUDA’s summer camp program. By changing how they think about their condition, the young leaders can now help others as well.
“AYUDA doesn’t focus on people with Type 1 being weak. Diabetes is not a defining factor. It can be a source of inspiration. (Chris)” Empowering people and allowing them to be their own leaders is effective for making a difference. Education and teaching people is one of the best things people can do. AYUDA has a great a model for interacting in various countries. Sometimes just sending doctors is needed, but it is a quick fix. In emergency situations, there is not necessarily time for education. Immediate action and supplies are needed, but effective change requires something else. When people come in they cannot always relate. Once those people leave, the education and work doesn’t stay. AYUDA doesn’t give out supplies or replace the work people are already doing. They work hand in hand with the people there and local partners. They train with, work with and educate with the community through lesson plans, preventive actions, management actions, curriculum, Type 1 and Type 2 information, and much more.
What is the biggest thing you have gotten out of AYUDA?
Some of the biggest things Chris has gotten out of AYUDA are the connections that he has made in the United States as well as internationally. He also likes to see others living with the same condition as well as living successful lives. He feels like a “medical anthropologist.”
Why is it important to be involved?
“We know it best. We live with it every day. (Diabetes), it’s always on our mind. (We) are the masters of our own conditions. (We should) share our knowledge and experiences with others who might not have it.” Chris almost feels obligated. We have abilities and talents, and we should share them. What often happens with Diabetes Advocacy makes him cringe because we are not suffering. He does not think he is suffering. He wants to change the stigma.
Chris is 24 years old and from San Diego, California. He is currently a Masters in Public Health candidate at Boston University studying Global Health and Pharmaceutical Access. Chris has participated in a number of AYUDA Programs in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and is acting In-Country Liaison for the DR programs assisting in program development, recruitment and grant writing throughout the year. Chris has been living with what he calls his “Live”-abetes for coming on 20 years and believes that everyone should have the opportunity to thrive alongside their condition as he always has.
To check out the rest of our newsletter, click here –> September 2014 Newsletter
Thanks from all of us at D4D!