I would like to share with you the story of one of our diabetes patients named Maximiana. Maximiana was diagnosed with diabetes about two years ago. After the diagnosis, she decided that she wanted to change her life and be healthier. She heard about our work at the local hospital and came to visit us. We enrolled her in our monthly follow-up program and referred her to the exercise group that Katie and I lead three days a week.
The Program for the Care and Education of Diabetics (ProCED) is a community development program designed to 1) prevent diabetes and raise awareness in the community, 2) identify people who are at-risk or who have diabetes but don’t know it, and 3) holistically support diabetic patients and their families with the information and resources they need to manage the disease and prevent complications.
I'd like to give you all an update on our exercise group. We started this group in July 2015 and you can refer back to my first article about it. Things have been going really well lately. There is a group of about 6-8 women and they recently asked if we could meet more than just once a week. So now we are meeting on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings.
As a part of the Living Libraries program, the teachers are required to attend continuing education training sessions each month. Lucia and Nancy lead these, teaching reading strategies to the teachers. Past years, these training sessions have focused solely on reading strategies, but they decided that this year, since CUDA’s mission is to promote holistic wellbeing, they would try to do just that. Lucia has asked Jeremy to lead a few sessions on ethics and the PuraVida team to teach on health.
About six months ago we had the idea to start an exercise group for the patients we see in the clinic. We discuss the benefits of being physically fit with the majority of our patients and we wanted to give them a free resource to learn and participate in exercises. I wanted to create something that women of any age and fitness level could be a part of. I also wanted to build a space where relationships can be made. Katie has also been a huge part of this exercise group and has co-led with me.
CUDA’s health branch, Pura Vida, is launching its newest initiative this month. We’re calling it ProCED (Programa de Cuidado y Educación para Diabéticos), a play on the Spanish word proceder, meaning “to proceed”. We are proceeding from and building on last year’s work done mostly by Andrew and Bethany Gray in the clinic in Arequipa’s district of Hunter. The Grays started doing free Diabetes screenings for patients in this clinic a little over a year ago and have established a great reputation for CUDA there. Finger-stick blood glucose readings allow us to see who has abnormally high blood glucose. We’ve screened over 850 people thus far.
Part of CUDA’s philosophy is to foster programs that are sustainable and holistic in nature and avoid paternalism and dependency. The medical branch of CUDA, called Pura Vida, is still in its beginning stages. We chose the name Pura Vida to communicate that our aim is for people to attain wellbeing in all facets of life: physical, mental and relational (also part of CUDA’s philosophy) and that this way they may be blessed by a pure life. We hope in time to be able to recruit Peruvian volunteers who will partner with us, become passionate with the work, and will continue the work once we have gone. For now, we strive to be culturally contextual and get input from local Arequipeños in all we do.
As I sat in our planning meeting the other day, it dawned on me that my new job as a volunteer with CUDA is to spend all of my time doing, in my opinion, the best part of these doctors’ jobs because they don’t have time. I couldn’t help but feel downright giddy about the prospect. What a gift from God!
I participate in the health team meetings with lots of questions and input but the project that I hope and pray I get to be a part of is in its very beginning stage: the dreaming stage. Truly, it's one of my favorite stages, but not a very informative one. I was encouraged, however, to share my dreams. To show you once again, from a newbie perspective, what it's like to dream and plan and learn to work on Peruvian timing mixed with the big ideas of a new missionary who is in the middle of cultural adjustment with life 'busy-fied' by two small children! As you read, envision with me and join me in prayer for God's hand, his wisdom and guidance to be completely integrated into this project.
We have now seen over 200 patients in the Diabetes Program. We have had meetings with the Doctor which has helped us know where we need to steer the program and also has given us a bit more control of the program. We have a very successfully team meeting about ideas, thoughts and procedures. We are excited that Sarah Morgan will be joining us with education programs soon. I have started some new systems to help keep track of patients and follow up with care. We are excited about the progress we are having and are excited for the future. We would love to introduce some friends from the clinic in Hunter that have helped us, had good conversations with and always give us big smiles.