UTTARAKHAND: Rekha Negi (29) recalls with dread her six months of nightmare four years back in dealing with her undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes which left her debilitated to the core. But then, she mustered her will power to tell herself that she must save others like her. Type-1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, making the body incapable of balancing the blood sugar levels.
When her suffering eased a bit, she started Uttarakhand Diabetes Awareness Initiative (UDAI). She has so far helped over 100 families, including children as small as two years old, diagnosed with the condition.
The reach of her comforting hands has extended to many countries -- Pakistan, Australia and the US. “I had lost almost everything. I went through HIV, cancer and every other test while I was bedridden due to complications to find out what was wrong with me,” she says.
“My biggest fear was that I would be found dead all alone, away from my loved ones. I did not want anyone to go through the suffering, so I thought of helping others overcome, understand and live with Type 1 diabetes,” says Rekha, an MBA in marketing and human resources with a B. Tech degree. During the Covid period, she has helped young children deal with the condition and their families to accept and understand the situation to deal with it better.
“Imagine a six-year-old child in a remote village of Rudraprayag district with little facilities. Apart from a physical condition, the disease takes a toll on one’s mind. I try to counsel the families and make them aware that perfectly normal life is possible with this condition.” She says many celebrities such as Sonam Kapoor, Kamal Hassan and Nick Jonas are dealing with the condition successfully. “I want to reach out to more and more people through UDAI and assure them that they are no less than others,” she says. She and her team assist such people. The team includes volunteers, doctors, social workers and people from all walks of life.
The group, which also has government officials, helps children acclimatize with the surprises life has brought to them. Ashish Sethi, a doctor from Dehrdaun who works with Negi, says the group has come across children as young as six years old with sugar levels of 400, which is extremely dangerous to their life. “In UDAI we provide medical, financial and other assistance to save lives as well as improve the quality of life, making the child and the family believe that normal life is possible,” says Sethi.
The group supplies Ketone test strips, medicines and other essential items in remote areas with scarce facilities. “The most daunting task is not making medical or financial arrangements. The challenge lies in making parents understand that their child can lead a normal life. Every day at least a couple of children are added in the group from Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and other states,” says Negi, who worked in the corporate sector for two years in Mumbai and Delhi. The group also runs online and offline awareness campaigns about the medical condition, educating people to not associate themselves with any fear or taboo.
Helping children deal with the conditions
Rekha and her team that includes government officials, volunteers, doctors, social workers and people from all walks of life, assist people with Type 1 Diabetes. They help children acclimatise with the surprises life has brought to them. Ashish Sethi, a doctor from Dehrdaun, says the group has come across kids as young as six years old with sugar levels of 400 which is extremely dangerous to their life.