It is estimated that nine million people living with type 1 diabetes in low- and middle-income countries depend on life-long insulin treatment for survival, according to the World Health Organization. Type 1 diabetes is a life-threatening chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin—a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in your blood to produce energy. There is no known prevention for type 1 diabetes, however, it can be treated effectively with access to vital health services and supplies, living a healthy lifestyle, and monitoring blood sugar.
At Panorama Global, we believe investing in community-based organizations (CBOs) is crucial to providing sustainable life-saving care. That’s why we’ve teamed up with The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to launch The Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Community Fund to support CBOs in improving the lives of people with type 1 diabetes worldwide.
Below, you will meet three of our partners—some of whom know first-hand the difficulties of living with diabetes—including a youth leader from Ecuador, a mom from Venezuela, and a Programmes Manager from Zimbabwe. Collectively, they are diligently working in their communities and across borders to treat undiagnosed type 1 diabetes, raise awareness about the impact of diabetes, increase access to insulin, and much more.
The part of our work that makes me most proud is knowing that I can change the life of one person.
I’m a young leader at the Fundación de Diabetes Juvenil del Ecuador (FDJE). I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was two years old and now I am 24 years old. I am from Quito, Ecuador, I am an electronic engineer, and really like sports. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to help other people living with the same condition as I have. FDJE gave me this opportunity as they work with communities from all parts of Ecuador.
At FDJE, we offer different activities to help those living with diabetes, especially children and young people with type 1 diabetes. These activities focus on developing the necessary skills to manage the disease and educating families to provide the tools to manage the needs and challenges of those living with type 1 diabetes.
My organization was created in 2003 to help families with a member that has type 1 diabetes by addressing their necessities, fears, feelings, and lack of knowledge about the disease. Around 40 families started this organization with the aim of improving the quality of life of the type 1 diabetes community, and throughout the years, we have grown to reach more families and provide education about the disease.
Since my diagnosis at two years of age, I’ve always been pretty involved with my organization. First with education activities and as an active participant of one of the most important projects of the organization, the summer camp” Campo Amigo Ecuador.” For me, all the activities made by the organization helped me to understand and accept diabetes. It helped me to embrace it and want to take care of myself. That is one of the principal reasons why I wanted to get involved in the health sector and especially with type 1 diabetes.
My organization gave me the opportunity to become a young leader and give back everything that the organization has done for me to other kids and young people. This opportunity to become a young leader was a big help in my process of growth and gave me the opportunity to be part of the young leader program of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Through this program, I’ve had the opportunity to meet other people with the same conviction and will to help others.
Even though my career path hasn’t been completely related to the health sector, I know that I want to stay involved in this sector in any way possible. I know that I can help newly diagnosed people to embrace this disease and defeat the fear that it carries so we can move on with our lives and live the life that we are supposed to.
When a kid or young person comes to me and thanks me for making a difference and making them feel like they are not alone. I think that the part of our work that makes me most proud is knowing that I can change the life of one person. Even though we reach so many people, we cannot always touch and change the lives of everyone. But for me, when we have the opportunity to change the view on life of one person, it is worth all our effort, all the time we have suffered, and all the fight we gave in order to accomplish our goal.
Helping as many people as possible, thanks to FDJE, has made me feel true happiness. The organization has made me feel like I can do anything as long as I do everything with a good heart and with the objective of helping others and wanting to improve their situation.
I think that all our lives have been really difficult, and not all of us have had the luck of finding someone who could help us embrace our disease and fight for something better. So let us be that special person in each other’s lives. Let us be the person that young people, kids, adults, and entire families seek out to share that life with diabetes is still life, that it is worth living despite how difficult it can get.
I think we all have seen that when we work together as one community, it is much easier and we can achieve bigger things and get to bigger goals. So, let’s work together as one community, because we all look forward to the same objective: to improve the quality of life of type 1 diabetes patients around the globe. As we say in my organization, “Walking together is easier — caminando juntos es más fácil."
I'm the mother of a young adult who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 20 years ago. I am also the Executive Coordinator at Guerreros Azules, located in Caracas, Venezuela. We are a non-profit that works to improve the quality of life of children and adolescents living with type 1 diabetes and their families.
This population is the most vulnerable, since they depend on their parents between the ages of 0 and 21; if they do not have adequate information or the resources to buy supplies, they are the most negatively affected.
We believe that no one better than parents/caregivers trained in diabetes can help their peers to understand the emotional and educational processes, and thus be able to manage the condition of their children.
Guerreros Azules was founded in 2017 by a group of mothers of children living with type 1 diabetes.
People living with type 1 diabetes seem to be invisible, not only in Venezuela but in the world. There was no organization in Venezuela that looked after the needs of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes, that is why we are pioneers and a key resource in the area.
We believe that children living with type 1 diabetes, their parents/caregivers and family members should be empowered. This can only be achieved through diabetes education and awareness of the condition. If the family group is educated, diabetes becomes more manageable.
We live in Venezuela, the country with the highest poverty levels in Latin America, and extremely high inflation rates. More than 90 percent of our community depends on donations to have access to treatment.
Lack of diabetes education and financial resources makes diabetes a 24/7/365 burden for the families of those children living with T1D.
There is also a lack of insulin and testing strips (which should be provided by the public health system but are not) and new technologies such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs).
We are very proud of our work, and we have been given reports that because of Guerreros Azules, families are more aware of the need to educate themselves to help with the process of acceptance of the condition and helping their child not to see the condition as a limiting factor.
Knowing that we have been able to change the lives of patients in vulnerable situations fills us with satisfaction and encourages us to continue with this work that has brought us our purpose in life.
We have published a children's story and a handbook for parents. We also made a documentary "El Camino del Guerrero" ("The Path of the Warrior"), which won the Suncoast Emmy for Best Editing in 2021.
To those who are on this same path, we say that although it is not always easy, it is full of satisfaction. Know that you are not alone and that the fruit of your labor saves lives.
We must continue to advocate for early diagnosis and timely access to the necessary supplies for treatment. It is easier together, and together we can do more.
As the Programmes Manager at the Midlands Diabetes Interest Group, I coordinate the implementation of all projects and ensure that project targets are met and reported against each milestone. I also establish and maintain relations with stakeholders and monitor and evaluate projects to ensure they are within scope and budget.
Midlands Diabetes Interest Group is in Gweru, the third largest city in Zimbabwe and is located in the Midlands Province. The city has a population of 158,200 as of the 2022 census. Gweru is known for farming activities in beef cattle, crop farming, and commercial gardening of crops for the export market. It is also home to a number of colleges and universities, most prominently Midlands State University and Mkoba Teachers College.
Midlands is a province of Zimbabwe, an area of 49,166 square kilometres (18,983 sq mi) and a population of 1,614,941 (2012). It is home to multiple people groups. Located at a central point in the country, it contains speakers of Shona, Ndebele, Tswana, Sotho and Chewa, as well as of various other languages.
The organization was formed after the realization that many people in Zimbabwe are ignorant of the dangers of diabetes and are dying from the condition. Diabetes education is not available in schools and communities and only a small fraction of people can use or have access to the internet for information. There is virtually no awareness of the causes, symptoms, dangers, and prevention of diabetes.
In addition, there are so many myths about diabetes and the cure for the condition. There are more people who die of diabetes without knowing that they have the condition than those who have been diagnosed.
It is against this background that the founders decided to mobilize other people living with diabetes to meet at a local clinic and invite health workers to give them education on diabetes. The organization was later registered and started to expand its operations to other local clinics.
My father lived with diabetes for more than 10 years and I decided to work in the health sector, specifically diabetes, so that l can help him manage the condition. A strong interest for type 1 diabetes came up after working with many young people who struggle to live with the condition.
Access to proper medical care and the high cost of medicines.
What makes me most proud of my work is helping those in great need and seeing them living a better life.
Service above self is key in making a difference in the fight against type 1 diabetes.
There are so many myths about diabetes and the cure for the condition. There are more people who die of diabetes without knowing that they have the condition than those who have been diagnosed.
The T1D Community Fund supports community-based organizations working to improve the lives of people living with Type 1 diabetes in low- and middle-income countries. It is powered by Panorama Global—a social impact nonprofit that empowers changemakers through radical collaboration—with seed funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.