At Direct Relief, May is for moms. Throughout the month, we will regularly honor mothers around the world who inspire us. Today’s story comes from El Centro Vivir con Diabetes in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Doña Julia was able to get the help she needed to treat her diabetes, allowing her to earn a modest living and send her children to school, thanks to Direct Relief’s partner clinic in Cochabamba, Bolivia, El Centro Vivir con Diabetes (CVCD).
When she lost her husband in 2010, she also lost her access to the health insurance she had been receiving from the government. Without proper care, Doña Julia’s diabetes – a disease she’s had for over 20 years – went untreated and her health began to decline, preventing her from being able to work and provide for her children and grandchild.
When Doña Julia’s health showed no signs of improving, a family member – who had heard of CVCD and the incredible work they do to help those living with diabetes – took her to get help. When she arrived at CVCD, Julia could no longer walk, she had no feeling in her lower extremities, arms or legs. Over time, her vision had worsened until she completely lost her ability to see.
Through CVCD, Julia was able to gain access to the insulin she needed and learn more about maintaining a healthier diet. With treatment, Doña Julia was able to recover her sight. She was moved to tears when she saw how much her children had grown during her year of blindness.
“I have been cured thanks to CVCD,” said Doña Julia.
Since receiving care, Julia has been able to return to selling candy and goods on the street where she earns just enough to pay rent, although she receives some help from her neighbors. She is now living much more comfortably and is able to provide a future for her children. Doña Julia’s story exemplifies the importance of mothers having access to health care, as they are an invaluable resource to their children and grandchildren.
The number of people who have diabetes in Bolivia continues to grow each year and more than 80 percent of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Many people like Doña Julia do not have health insurance, so organizations like CVCD that provide them with not only treatment, but information and education on how to live a healthy life with diabetes are a life-saving resource.
Since 2008, Direct Relief has provided more than $1 million in medicines and supplies to CVCD so they can continue changing the lives of Bolivians like Doña Julia.
Watch this video created by staff who met her in Bolivia for more on her story and how CVCD helps Bolivians with diabetes.