An unwavering service for children with diabetes
Tuttlingen - The level of care available for diabetic children and their families has seen significant improvements over the past ten years and all thanks to the personal commitment and dedication of Ingrid Binder. Since the Dianiño Foundation was established in 2004, Ms. Binder has built up an impressive network of volunteers across Germany and worked tirelessly to raise funds at every opportunity, creating a model which is currently the only one of its kind in the world. Today, 292 Dianiño nannies are on hand to offer their unyielding support to sick children and their families who find themselves in extreme situations. Most Dianiño nannies are pediatric nurses who take great pride in giving up their free time for these voluntary posts, but the foundation is also keenly supported by the mothers who find themselves caught up in this terrible disease, as they are only too aware of the problems faced by diabetic children.
The Dianiño nannies provide families with support and become a real lifeline when things start to reach breaking point. To date, the foundation has financed and managed in the region of 3,500 projects and now operates in conjunction with 130 pediatric clinics. Working closely with pediatricians, it provides not only medical care for the affected children, but also moral support for parents who are finding it difficult to cope with their new situation. The foundation hotline receives cries for help on a daily basis from desperate parents, doctors, kindergartens, social services, and schools, most of which are in need of urgent attention. “We are in the fortunate position of being able to respond to these situations extremely quickly without having to go through red tape. After all, it's so important to us to be able to provide the necessary help and support to all those who need it,” explains Ms. Binder. But this does not simply rely on good coordination and administration – it's absolutely essential for the foundation to be financially secure.
The foundation is funded exclusively through donations, which means it is always on the lookout for new people to win over with just how important the Dianiño support projects really are. But the “competition” is fierce. With countless social projects out there looking to secure donations, the process of standing out against the bigger players is an arduous task for Ms. Binder. But, in spite of everything, the Dianiño founder remains firmly on the ball and is committed to raising awareness of the problems associated with juvenile diabetes year in, year out. For the most part, she succeeds in convincing people to make those all-important donations, but there is always a feeling of tension towards the end of every year as she waits to find out whether there is enough in the pot to go around for all of the children and families in need.
Diabetes is a disease that most people have heard of, although it is generally only associated with the type-two variant, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes. In fact, the incurable type-one strain found in children – not to mention the incredible strain that this devastating diagnosis places on their families – receives comparatively little public attention.
To explain the disease in its simplest form, children suffering from diabetes are not capable of producing their own insulin. As there is currently no known cure for this metabolic disorder, sufferers have to inject this vital hormone up to eight times a day. The required dose of insulin is determined by measuring blood sugar levels with a lancet before it is administered, meaning that children have to undergo up to 16 injections and pinpricks every single day. Not only this, but their diet has to be perfectly balanced to maintain their blood-sugar levels, which significantly restricts their freedom of choice.
All in all, a diagnosis of juvenile diabetes represents a serious encroachment on family life and many find it difficult to cope with their new responsibilities. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are generally at a higher risk of receiving inadequate care as their social environment is already under strain, and the public resources available to offset this social deficit are unfortunately extremely limited. Without the voluntary support of the foundation, therefore, there would be a significant shortfall in terms of support.
The number of new cases diagnosed has been increasing steadily in recent years, and this is just one of the reasons why Ingrid Binder is keen to extend her network of supporters further still going forward. “The situation we currently find ourselves in is tragic, as not only is the number of new cases permanently on the increase, but the children being diagnosed are getting younger all the time. The average age for children to start experiencing symptoms was around seven back when we first launched the foundation, but now it's not unusual to see those aged two and even younger diagnosed with type-one diabetes.” Ms. Binder is particularly keen to support vulnerable children from disadvantaged or difficult backgrounds who are at special risk. These are the ones she feels deserve her particular attention in the future, and so she is increasing her involvement in this area in an attempt to alleviate their situation.
Ms. Binder's resolution for 2015 is therefore to increase public awareness of this issue in order to create greater sensitivity toward the severity of both the disease and its consequences. The foundation already receives moral support from its patron, politician Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The German Minister for Foreign Affairs opened Dianiño's tenth anniversary celebration event with the following words: “I'd like to take this opportunity to combine my heartfelt congratulations with a plea to you all: Please keep up the hard work that you're doing and make sure that these first ten years are just the start of a success story that many more children and their families can be a part of for years to come!” BINDER has also been a proud sponsoring partner of the Dianiño Foundation for many years, which is why it makes a four-figure donation to this worthy cause every year in place of sending Christmas gifts or cards.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Dianiño Foundation, visit www.stiftung-dianino.de for details.