At 16-years, Binti Hendari is living with Diabetes. “I used to feel tired and thirsty all the time. My mother took me to the hospital and they tested me. They told me I have diabetes,” narrates Binti. Her life changed after the diagnosis. Her mother knew many other family members who were living with the condition. “But all our relatives who have the condition got it when they were old. Binti was 7-years-old when she was diagnosed with the condition,” Binti’s mother, Mariam Mustafa, states. Mariam did the best she could, getting advice from Binti’s doctor at Kilifi County Referral Hospital and her relatives, to manage her daughter’s condition. However, Binti still struggled to control her diabetes due to her young age, and lack of knowledge on the same. “Binti could not play with her friends in school, and often missed classes due to her condition,” confirms Mariam. Due to this, she dropped out of school.
Getting Life Back on Track
However, one year back, Mariam’s neighbour and good friend, Amina Awadh, was trained as a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) on Proper Management and Control of Diabetes and Childhood Asthma, by Amref Health Africa’s Institute of Capacity Development. “Amina has been very useful in getting Binti her life back. She is Binti’s friend and advices her on controlling and monitoring her condition,” adds Mariam.
Amina was trained on Leap, the mHealth platform. “I learnt through my phone. We first had a face-to-face session, then lessons started coming through our phones. We even had exams and I passed well. I might be old, but I am very smart!” says a happy Amina.
“Bibi (Grandmother) Amina has taught me how food affects my diabetes. She has even taught my mother how to prepare the food, and the right portions I should take to make sure I regulate my blood sugar. I rarely feel sick these days!” states Binti.
Binti and her mother are grateful as she is also able to inject herself with insulin. “Now she can attend school as I will not be worried about who will give her the insulin shots. My baby is healthy and happy. I am happy,” adds a smiling Amina.
Amina went further and told Mariam to ensure all her children test for diabetes as it was very common in her family. One of her older daughters tested positive for pre-diabetes and was put on medicine to reverse it. She also had to change her lifestyle. “I only wish Amina had been trained earlier as a CHV! Binti would not have had to live with Diabetes as she is now. But I am still grateful as she teaches us how to live a normal life even with the condition,” asserts Mariam.
A Diabetes Champion
Binti is now seen as a Diabetes champion in her community and will be joining a newly formed support group for Diabetic children in Kilifi County. “I believe that everyone has a right to health. Sometimes, people are affected by different things that make access to healthcare difficult. For me, it was the right knowledge,” she states.
To Amina, her greatest joy is seeing Binti going back to school. “Binti can be very naughty at times. In her age, she gets a lot of invites to parties and events and she at times is tempted to eat food that would spike her blood sugar levels. Together with her doctor and mother, we have been mentoring her such that she can still attend her friends’ birthday parties and enjoy life, but she takes care of what she eats at all times. She has shown great maturity for such a young age, and I could not be more proud. I believe it is now time for her to resume school,” concludes Amina.
Amina Awadh was trained through the Proper Management and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases Project on Diabetes and Childhood Asthma by Amref Health Africa’s Institute of Capacity Development. The project, which is funded by GlaxoSmithKline, has also trained over 2,600 health care workers on the same. Over 40,000 people have been screened on the two conditions in the four project implementation areas. The four areas are Nairobi, Nyeri, Kakamega and Kilifi. Overall, the project has reached approximately 3.7 million people directly and indirectly.