Guatemala is currently facing a diabetes epidemic, and especially at risk is the large indigenous population living in rural communities. In fact more than 25% of the indigenous people suffer from type 2 or pre-diabetes because of their genetics, diet and lifestyle.
Luisa (age 72) lives in a small house in one of the many alleys of San Pablo La Laguna. She has a big family; 7 children and 21 grandchildren. Currently, she shares her home with 12 of her family members, between her children, in-laws, grandchildren and husband the house is never quiet. “I enjoy being with my family. Sometimes we all eat together, and that makes me very happy because we get to talk and share a moment. When there’s no one home I feel lonely because I have no one to talk to”.
Most of the men in her family are day workers at the fields. “We live day by day with what my husband gets paid. We usually spend what he earns that same day. It’s hard because he doesn’t have a salary we can count on, and everyday there is less work”.
When Luisa was first diagnosed with diabetes she didn’t really know what it was, but as soon as she find out it can’t be cured she started crying. “I thought I was going to die soon, especially because I had lost a lot of weight”. Doctors told her that they were going to give her medicine, and that she could be stable if she stopped eating foods with a high sugar and fat content.
Luisa started to go to a doctor in one of the neighboring towns, who charged her around $40 for one consultation and she needed to buy her own medicine. This was an expense she could not keep up with. “Where are we supposed to get the money for the medicine when there is no work?”
When Luisa found ODIM she felt relieved by the support she got. “I felt like the program gave me a new chance at life. We learn about diabetes and they show us how to exercise and what we should eat. Now I exercise every night before going to sleep”. Luisa also has access to all the medication she needs to keep her glucose levels under control. All of this is possible thanks to her sponsor, who covers the cost of her participation in the “Let’s Walk Together” program.
The “Let’s Walk Together” Diabetes Club focuses on inciting lifestyle changes and breaking down social stigmas surrounding diabetes with lessons on the disease, healthy cooking classes and a support group. Patients also receive monthly health consultations and the necessary medicine . There are currently 63 patients enrolled in our program.
You can change one these patients’ life by donating $80 a month.This would cover the costs of their monthly check-ups, medication, tests, lessons, cooking classes, activities and the support group. By supporting one of our participants you are enabling them to lead a healthy life with diabetes.