On December 6th, 2013 at 4pm, my son Oliver was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 6. On that day, our lives changed forever. A little bit of his childhood was taken away and from then on he had to live with responsibilities no 6 year old should have. I will not talk about T1D and its effects here as I believe anyone reading this will already understand. What I will talk about however, is that T1D is always deadly if not diagnosed, or if it is not treated with insulin multiple times per day.
In my mis-spent youth, I was fortunate enough to live in America for a while, Oliver’s diagnosis came not long after returning from another extended visit to Wisconsin. In the months following diagnosis, I would be up at night; upset, alone, feeling isolated and to some extent, grieving for a time when the simple things in life were more carefree for us. I began to wonder what would have happened had Oliver been diagnosed whilst we were in America, or what his future would be like if we lived in a country without an NHS. I researched online and here is what I learnt.
I learnt . . .
I learnt that over 50% of people worldwide who need to use insulin do not have regular, affordable and/or sustainable access to it.
I learnt that when children are diagnosed in the developing world, many do not survive until their next birthday.
I learnt that many parents of a T1 child have to chose between paying rent or paying for insulin.
I learnt that many parents, whilst grieving, are also relieved when their child with T1D dies as the financial burden and social stigma are also relieved.
I learnt that many children are missing from the statistics as they die before they have the chance to be diagnosed, their families fearing the cost of a consultation with a Doctor.
I learnt that parents leave their child to die as they know there is no way they can afford to raise an insulin dependent child.
I learnt that parents in India face having to chose which child should die; one from lack of insulin, or their other child from lack of food & shelter as they are unable to afford all.
I learnt that many children with T1 in the developing world wish that they had HIV/AIDS instead, as this is what the humanitarian agencies concentrate on with their relief efforts.
I learnt that many children drop out of school after diagnosis, even though the need to succeed in life is greater than ever.
I learnt that many families do not have anywhere to keep insulin chilled.
I learnt that the heat in India regularly exceeds 45c.
I learnt that the stigma of diabetes often causes divorce.
I learnt that divorced women in India are as socially outcasted.
I learnt that 90% of people needing help buying insulin are female, even though T1D affects equal numbers of males v females.
I learnt that females with diabetes often remain single as no man will marry them due to the financial burden.
I learnt that there is something I can do to help.
I learnt about The Pendsey Trust and
I learnt about the amazing work they do in India to save the lives of children and young people living with diabetes.
I learnt that The Pendsey Trust improve the life chances of these people living with diabetes.
I learnt that I can sponsor a child in India and help someone like Oliver have the same chances at a healthy and successful life.
I learnt that The Pendsey Trust do not discriminate, they offer assistance to anyone with diabetes who needs it.
I learnt many other organisations have upper age limits and leave a young person unsupported and without sustainable sources of funding their care upon reaching adulthood.
I learnt that The Pendsey Trust fund educational opportunities to enable all diabetics to become independent with their medical costs.
I learnt that some young people are given business start up grants & advice to enable them to become self sufficient.
I learnt that all the work The Pendsey Trust do helps to break down the burden diabetes introduces, reducing the stigma.
I learnt that recipients of The Pendsey Trust funds are self sufficient after the funding is withdrawn, so there is no longer a need for it.
I learnt that young people in India can be supported to not let diabetes get in the way of achieving their dreams.
I learnt that people with diabetes in India can live a happy and healthy life.
I learnt that people with diabetes in India can contribute a lot to society, if given the chance.
I learnt that just £16 a month will save a child’s life, whilst they prepare to become independent young adults.
I learnt that just £10 sends a child to school for a term.
I learnt that as little as £5 can cover the costs of starting a retail business.
I learnt that £40 buys a goat, enabling a young man with T1D to become a goat farmer.
I learnt that £70 can buy a sewing machine that enables a young person to start a tailoring business.
I learnt that £150 pays for vocational college.
I learnt that every penny donated to The Pendsey Trust gets through to where it is needed in India.
I learnt that The Pendsey Trust has no admin costs as they are run by passionate volunteers who donate their time.
I learnt that charities need donations of time as well as money.
I learnt that diabetes is life threatening, but it does not have to be a death sentence.
What can you do this World Diabetes Day to enable a young person living with Type 1 in India?
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