My Journey Continues!

Campo Amigo 2016
Campo Amigo 2016

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Peninah Benjamin
100 percent of goal achieved.
Goal: $6,500.00
Achieved: $6,522.00

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Hola from the Dominican Republic! 

I can't believe Campo Amigo, the first of AYUDA's programs, is over. These past three and a half weeks have flow by. These past three weeks we collaborated with Aprendiendo A Vivir (AAV), our local partner foundation, and the local families to run two outstanding camps on the weekends, visit two cities to do home visits, and tour the local hospital in Santo Domingo. The first weekend we ran Día de la Familia (a single-day family camp) and Campo Amigo (a two-day camp). This year, I worked in Grupo Azul (Blue Group) with campers ages 8-12. The past three years I have been in either the youngest or oldest group, so I was excited to wok with this age group because they're transitioning from depending on their parents for their diabetes management to becoming independent. 

Día de la Familia was aimed towards educating and empowering families (parents and siblings) to help motivate their children living with type one diabetes. During this one day camp, the entire family was in our classroom, so we had activities aimed to educate both campers and their families. My favorite activity was the Role Reversal one: where we had parents check their blood sugars with the help of their children. This activity put the parents in their child's shoes. Campo Amigo, on the other hand, is geared towards newly diagnosed and at risk kids. Our group empowered each other to take control of their diabetes, especially at this age. They challenged themselves and each other to learn something new or try a new place to give an injection. 

The two home visits and hospital vist put into perspective the background and life of many of our campers. We were able to see where many of them are diagnosed with diabetes and the atmosphere of the hospital. Our two home visits were in San Cristobal, 1 hour west of the Santo Domingo, and San Pedro, 1 hour east of the city. Like the hospital visit, these home visits allowed us to see the home life of what it was like living in more rural cities, with limited water, food supply, and diabetes supplies. 

Four summers later, and I still love every moment of my time here, and am able to see returning volunteers, campers, and their families. This reminds me why I keep coming back year after year. Although my time here is almost over, I will continue my involvement with AYUDA, hopefully both in and out of country. 

Thank you for all of your love and support, and for supporting me throughout the past four years. This is why I am able to keep coming back. 

For more stories, check out my blog that I kept throughout the program: https://ayuda2017blog.wordpress.com!

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Thank you for visiting my fundraising page!

I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has continued to support me and the work I have been doing with American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad (AYUDA) since my first summer in 2014! Diabetes has made me aware of the power that an invested community can have on an individual’s life, and I would not be where I am today without you all. Thank you for always being there for me since day one from JDRF Walks to Cure Diabetes, to supporting me each summer in the Dominican Republic.

Through AYUDA, I have made friends locally and abroad for a lifetime, have expanded my diabetes network, have seen the impact our volunteers can have on local communities, and have learned about other cultures while living apart of them.

Not only does AYUDA foster this social entrepreneurship in its volunteers, but it also makes a tangible impact on the communities with which it works abroad. Each summer, I return to Campo Amigo – the day camp for children with diabetes and their families – and am met with excited faces of returning campers who cannot wait to tell us how their management of their diabetes has improved since last year and new campers eager to have the same experience. We are able to connect and continue our relationships with previous campers each summer and even throughout the year. This personal connection keeps me coming back; they are not only campers and families I see each summer, but they are people who I have formed continued relationships with.

A particular story from last summer that stands out to me is from the second weekend in which we had a 2 day camp – Campo Amigo. This weekend is for returning campers, and many times the campers know each other or have been to camp before. This past summer was my first time teaching the Grupo Amarillo - Yellow Group (ages 13+). As part of the education session, our group did an activity called “Misconceptions about Diabetes.” In this activity, we had a large white poster that had “Juntos Somos Más Fuertes” (Together We Are Stronger) written on it. We had each camper come up and write one thing they did not like about having diabetes or something bad they were told about it. They wrote “I want to live to my 15th birthday,” “I don’t want to lose my eyesight,” “I don’t want my hands or feet to fall off,” “I don’t want my brain to shrink,” and countless others. We then talked about each one and acted as “myth busters.” Finally, we took paint and put our hand prints all over the sign to show that these social misconceptions were false and diabetes cannot stop us from doing anything.

I hope that you are able to see just how important AYUDA’s programs are both for its volunteers and for the communities with which we work and how these would not be possible without the dedicated support that donors have provided each year. To volunteer, I have to raise money to support AYUDA summer programs, and my goal is $6,500. Fundraising by volunteers, like myself, contributes to the majority of the costs to run AYUDA’s programs and sponsor local diabetes projects. For example, $100 can support a child to attend a day at the Campo Amigo diabetes camp this summer. The impact any donation has on a child's life living with diabetes is immeasurable. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation this year in support of AYUDA to allow this organization to continue creating sustainable programs and empowering youth to be agents of change in diabetes communities.

I will be returning to the Dominican Republic in June, but my journey begins today!

Donation Information:

        1. You can make a tax deductible donation online

 2. You can mail in a check made payable to AYUDA with my name in the memo field (Mail to: AYUDA Inc, 1700 N Moore St, Suite 2000, Arlington VA 22209

Thank you for all your love and support, and I will keep you posted on my progress.

Love,

Peninah Benjamin

¡Juntos Somos Mas Fuertes! Together We Are Stronger!

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