Getting Personal for a Good Cause

The members of the Lions Club of Dar es Salaam Tanzanites have decided it’s time to come out with their story. In the small Tanzanian city, where everyone knows everyone, there is still a social stigma about health conditions like diabetes.

Lion Attar Kaur Saini was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her 28th week of pregnancy. She shared her story on social media in an effort to destigmatize the disease in her community.

But the Dar es Salaam Lions know that being aware of the early signs and acting on them—getting to a doctor, getting diagnosed—can have big health ramifications. So, they’ve decided to start outing themselves on social media in an effort to raise awareness and destigmatize diabetes.

Lion Attar Kaur Saini shared her story as part of a series the club has called “Real People, Real Stories.” Expecting a child in December of 2018, Attar was experiencing a smooth pregnancy until her 28th week. “I started feeling extremely tired,” she writes in her awareness post. “I would have a frequent need to visit the loo, felt thirsty and [had] cold sweats.” Concerned, Attar mentioned it to her doctor. Further testing revealed she had gestational diabetes.

“Obviously, the first thought in my mind was what will happen to my baby,” wrote Attar. But the doctor explained to her that it isn’t uncommon, especially in women with a family history of diabetes, and there are steps she could take to keep her and her baby healthy. Unmanaged, gestational diabetes can have health effects on the baby and contribute to a difficult birth.

Attar paid close attention to her diet and began taking medication to help keep her blood sugar in check. “I request all expecting mothers to please be alert,” she writes.

The charter president of the club, and current GST coordinator, Bhavika Sajan, hopes that by using social media to spread personal stories of those affected by diabetes, the people in her community will not only be more educated about the early signs and symptoms, but be more willing to talk about them with their doctor.

“People still take diabetes very lightly,” she says. “However, the responses we have been receiving are overwhelming. The posts are doing really well.”

Saini delivered a healthy baby boy on November 26, 2018.