I came across this group at a diabetes conference and not only do they have an interesting story but they also offer people with diabetes an interesting opportunity to volunteer abroad with people with diabetes.
I've checked with the organisation and they have said that you do not need to be living in the US to volunteer and in the past people from Ireland have volunteered with them. :-)
They are called AYUDA; American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad. The organisation was created in 1996, by two teenagers, Nick Cuttriss and his friend Jesse Fuchs-Simon. They were 14, when they met José Gabriel, an eight year old boy who lived in Quito, Ecuador.
José Gabriel, was six-months-old when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1984. Eight years later, despite spending most of the family's income on his diabetes supplies, José's parents saw his health decline again. In an effort to understand what had gone wrong, José's family raised money for him to travel to see a diabetes specialist.
They discovered José and his parents had never received guidance regarding the management of the boy's condition and that José's blood sugar levels were not being managed correctly. For José and his parents, and for many other young people with diabetes, particularly in developing countries, the lack of diabetes education is as dangerous as a lack of insulin.
Nick and Jesse envisioned a youth-led organization that would educate young people with diabetes about diabetes issues, and help empower them to work effectively for positive change.
AYUDA's initial objective was to help with the need for basic diabetes education in Ecuador.Volunteers set up diabetes support groups in the corridors of a public hospital in Quito. These groups offered educational workshops and provided a forum for knowledge sharing.
Since 1996, they have also recognised that the cost of diabetes supplies was making it impossible for many children in developing countries to manage their condition optimally and so they set about creating and managing diabetes supply banks. It costs approximately 3000 USD per year to care for a child with diabetes; the average income for a family of four in many Latin American countries is less than 1000 USD per year.
With the help of partners such as Insulin for Life, AYUDA works to ensure that families with limited resources receive essential daily supplies, such as insulin, syringes, and test strips at subsidized prices or free of charge.