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Port Harcourt
Monday, May 20, 2024

THE FOUNDATION FOR CHILD DIABETES AWARENESS IN NIGERIA IN COLLABORATION WITH THE PEDIATRIC ENDOCRINOLOGY AND DIABETES UNIT OF THE PORT HARCOURT TEACHING HOSPITAL

By Blessing Bliss Chukwuma

The Children Day Diabetes Awareness and Management camp was held on the 1st of May, 2024 at the Unity Hall of the Port Harcourt Club 1928.

The Foundation for Child Diabetes Awareness in Nigeria (FFCDAIN) is a beacon of hope in the fight against diabetes amongst children. Founded by Mrs. Amiediki Emmanuel Georgwill, , whose personal experience with child diabetes inspired her to make a difference, FFCDAIN stands as a pillar of support and education for families dealing with this condition.

The Founder of the Foundation Mrs Amiediki Emmanuell Georgewill, a lifestyle and fashion enthusiast, is the CEO KolorKraft, Oak Residence Shortlet Apartments.

FFCDAIN activities highlight issues of paramount importance to the children living with diabetes in Nigeria and keep diabetes firmly in the public spotlight. The Diabetes Awareness Campaign provides a platform for Children living with diabetes, health professionals, diabetes advocates, media, the public and government organizations to raise diabetes awareness in order improve the lives of Children living with diabetes.

The one-day camp for child diabetes awareness and management organized by FFCDAIN, Mrs. Amiediki Georgewill in collaboration with distinguished panel of experts including seasoned doctors, pharmacies, diabetic supplies distributors, professionals, professors, nutritionists, and dietitians. Their mission was clear: to educate both children and parents about diabete, to create awareness about diabetes, – what it is, the different types, and most importantly, how to manage it and children living with it effectively.

At the camp there was blood sugar test and eye test(courtesy of pro-sight international eye foundation) for the children by seasoned professionals and medications were also given out immediately.there was an overview lecture on diabetes, camps and self care by Prof. Tamunopriye Jaja MBBS, MSc Med Edu FMCPAED. There was a sick day care for children living with diabetes by Dr. Yarhere there was trivia games which more like. Quiz bothering around diabetes. There was a lifestyle lecture by Dr. ununuma Oguzor ( a consultant and family physician at RSUTH). Nutritional Information and Demonstration showing healthier snack alternatives and diabetic friendly recipes by Rita Akalazu.

The event served as a platform for diabetes patients and parents of diabetic children to share their stories and experiences. Through heartfelt testimonies, they shed light on the challenges they face and the strategies they have adopted in managing diabetes on a daily basis. Their stories resonated with the audience and underscored the importance of awareness, support, and community in confronting this chronic condition.

Miss Nimi Emmanuel Georgewill the daughter of the foundation’s founder shared her Diabetes story, her
Journey with diabetes and how she has been managing herself as a girl living with diabetes. She also wrote :

“At the tender age of 9, standing at a mere 4 feet tall, my life took an unexpected turn. I was catapulted into early adulthood by an unwelcome companion named “Diabetes,” giving me responsibilities that I wasn’t prepared for. The innocent joys of indulging in cake and sweets at parties were abruptly replaced with the harsh reality of managing a chronic condition. Her mother, herself acquainted with the nuances of diabetes, was my initial lifeline, guiding me through the ups and downs of this life-altering disease.

“When I first got diagnosed with diabetes, I was overwhelmed. The sheer volume of new information and the radical shift in lifestyle expectations were too much for a 9-year-old. The daily task of pricking my finger to test my blood sugar , coupled with the realization that even a seemingly harmless hidden treat could dictate my blood sugar levels and other symptoms, often left me feeling defeated and helpless”..

“Fast forward to boarding school, my understanding of diabetes matured, and I knew what I had to do to be healthy, but sometimes I just didn’t care. The weight of judgment from my peers became too burdensome. The inquiries about my different meals like Amala instead of Garri , the puzzled looks at my choice of snacks like an apple instead of all the yummy pastries everyone else had, and the well-intentioned yet ignorant jokes about avoiding sugar like it was a life-or-death situation took a toll on me. The daily routine of visiting the nurses for my medication and sharing my blood sugar readings with my house parents became a dreaded task . For someone who didn’t like attention or to be singled out, it was surely devastating”.

“Over time, I’ve come to understand that diabetes is like a beast that can be tamed and controlled with a strategic lifestyle shift and the right support system. I quickly realized that living with diabetes isn’t just a personal journey; it’s a transformative experience that touches the lives of those around you. In my case, my family had to make adjustments like swapping regular soda for diet soda. The staff at school involved in my care also underwent a learning process, gaining insight and understanding about diabetes. Diabetes has been called a “silent disease” and a “silent killer” because there’s no one-size-fits-all appearance for diabetics, and most people don’t show symptoms until way later in life. This emphasizes the importance of awareness and education”.

“I went from being the angry, rebellious 9-year-old who felt helpless and cheated by fate into a determined adult ready to confront my fears head-on. This change has been a testament to the power of awareness, patience, resilience, and the unwavering support of a nurturing village—from my parents to my pediatricians, to the staff at school, including the kitchen crew, nurses, and house parents. Today, I’m not just surviving, but thriving. Diabetes might be a part of my story, but it doesn’t define me”.

Mrs. Amiediki’s vision for FFCDAIN goes beyond mere awareness – it embodies a commitment to empower families with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the complexities of diabetes. By bringing together a diverse range of experts, the event not only imparted crucial information but also fostered a sense of solidarity among participants.

A lady whose daughter is just four months old also shared her touching story, she talked about how she has been managing her infant daughter, how she discovered that her daughter was diabetic and how she has been caring for her. She also encouraged other diabetic children parents to be steadfast and never give up.

Children living with diabetes were also allowed to share what their experiences had been like and how they’ve been coping.

The presence of doctors and healthcare professionals provided invaluable insights into the medical nuances of diabetes, dispelling myths and offering practical guidance on treatment and monitoring. Professors shared cutting-edge research findings, deepening understanding and highlighting the importance of ongoing education in the field of diabetes management.

Nutritionists and dietitians played a critical role in emphasizing the significance of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle in managing diabetes. Their expertise underscored the impact of food choices on blood sugar levels and overall well-being, equipping attendees with practical tips and guidelines for maintaining a healthy diet.

The stories shared by diabetes patients and parents offered a human touch to the event, illustrating the resilience and determination required to cope with this condition. Their narratives of triumph over adversity inspired hope and instilled a sense of solidarity among all present.

As the day concluded, the resounding message of the event was clear: diabetes is a challenge that can be overcome with knowledge, support, and a determined community. Mrs. Amiediki Emmanuel Georgewill’s unwavering commitment to raising awareness and providing resources for child diabetes underscores the vital role of organizations like FFCDAIN in addressing the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations.

In the wake of this impactful event, FFCDAIN continues to be a beacon of hope for Nigerian families grappling with child diabetes. Through education, advocacy, and community engagement, the foundation stands as a testament to the power of collective action in improving the lives of those affected by diabetes. Mrs. Amiediki Emmanuel Georgewill’s dedication to this cause serves as an inspiration to all, demonstrating the profound impact that one individual can have in creating positive change in their community.

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