It was a sticky, humid day in Colombo, Sri Lanka when I met Kassun.
I was visiting the Sri Lankan Diabetes Association to meet young people supported by the program and the health professionals caring for them. The association had arranged for me to see the kids with the biggest challenges, none with HbA1c below 11.5%.
One of the first patients I saw was Kassun, he was diagnosed with type 1 at 6 years of age. He was a really bright young man, full of hopes, dreams and smiles but is struggling with the challenge of managing his diabetes. He has been admitted to hospital with severe hypos and in DKA many times.
Kassun doesn’t receive any financial support from his family and, as he struggles to find regular work, wouldn’t be able to afford his insulin and test strips if it wasn’t for Life for a Child. Thanks to your donations we are now able to help Kassun with his management, ensuring that he has access to a regular supply of insulin, education and support through the diabetes centre.
Kassun now thinks of the centre as his home away from home, and obviously feels very comfortable there. He would travel through the night on a bus from miles away, just to come to clinic and did so these on two consecutive days while we were there.
Team games and dancing
On the third day of my visit we held an activity day at the centre for sixty-six young people aged between 6 and 26 years old. At the beginning of the day the girls sat to one side of the room and the boys opposite to them – everyone was very quiet and no one mingled at all.
However, after a packed day of talks, small informal group discussions, team-building games and a parent Q& A session, things changed. Everyone was singing and dancing, laughing, chatting and having fun. This was so heart-warming to see and demonstrates the power of peer support. Kassun attended the activity day, and as one of the oldest in the group, he was always running around, generally helping and looking after everybody.
During my visit to the centre I also had the opportunity to visit the home of two sisters, Nuzaira and Nazara who have been supported by the program and are now doing really well. Nuzaira was diagnosed age 10, is a teacher and has a 6 year old daughter. She was very happy to chat to us and share her experiences of living with diabetes, she told us she once fainted in front of her class with a hypo – luckily the headmistress knew what to do to help her. The sisters and their mother made us feel very welcome and were so grateful for the support your donations provide.
For me, the visit really reinforced the importance of the support we give to these children in this wonderful but under-resourced country. Not only are we saving lives with the insulin we provide, we are making it possible for these young people to lead normal lives and follow their dreams to become teachers, carpenters, parents and doctors. Thank you.