Defeating the stigma of diabetes that affects children in India (1/2)

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There are realities that hurt, and nothing has a bigger impact than seeing those realities with your own eyes. Just back from Hyderabad, the fifth biggest city in India, I believe it will take me a few days to assimilate some of the things I experienced in that place.

We went there to attend the annual ISPAD congress, which focuses on pediatric and adolescent diabetes and on how to use the newest advances in research to make these children's lives better. This year's congress motto was clear: “reaching the unreached”.

Most of these children and adolescents have lost all hope. After their diagnosis they become excluded from society: in school, within their families, in their group of friends...all caused by a grave lack of information and a very dangerous stigma. Sometimes, they don't even have access to medication, which puts their lives at real risk.

So we certainly couldn't pass up the opportunity to try to start generating some change. The program “Changing Diabetes in Children”, which we'll talk more about on this blog in the future, organized several visits to local hospitals and clinics, so I could talk to children affected by diabetes and give them a message of inspiration and empowerment.

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In these talks, I explained a little about my personal experience and my team’s story, and told them how despite being denied many opportunities and finding myself being often limited by other people, I ended up fulfilling many of my dreams and now work hard so others can live their dreams, too.

I started this post stating that “there are realities that hurt”, and I have no doubt about it. Hyderabad was a wonderful but sobering experience. In the next post I will explain the conditions in which I found those hospitals and clinics. It was so tough to witness, that for a moment I thought I would not be able to accomplish my objective there.

I only needed to hear a few of these kids’ stories, though, and see how thrilled they were to listen (and how sad they were, at the same time), to realize that I had to stay strong, because that day, I had the responsibility to make at least a small positive impact on their lives.

In my next post, I’ll break down everything that happened during our time in Hyderabad. Please keep reading. It'll be worth it.

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