I’ll never forget the day I found out I was going to India. I had applied through Lilly’s Connecting Hearts Abroad program, which matches employees to volunteer opportunities across the world. I remember being so thrilled that I would be participating as a documentary photographer. For the first time, I would get the chance to marry my passions for adventure and service with my love of photography.
We partnered with Population Services International (PSI), a non-profit organization, to help improve health outcomes for people with diabetes in
India through treatment, communication and education. With a population of around 1.3 billion, India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world – and approximately 69 million people there have diabetes. To put the latter number in perspective, that’s almost double the population of Canada.
Our work with PSI included creating a photographic timeline showing the impact that the awareness and education efforts of the PSI UDAY project have had in helping people with hypertension and diabetes over the last 5 years.
During my time in India, I was able to talk with people who were living with diabetes, as well as local pharmacists. Despite our language barrier, my conversations with them helped me gain a greater appreciation for the importance of working together to overcome global health challenges. In many cases, the men and women I spoke with lived in rural villages with little to no access to a healthcare provider or medical care. In such remote areas, family and institutional support networks are crucial in helping people with diabetes access the support they need. It was thanks to PSI and partners such as Lilly that they were able to make the positive changes they required to understand and manage their diabetes. The people at PSI have a true passion for what they do. Their resiliency in the face of adversity, and their commitment to improving health outcomes was inspiring.
My experience with Connecting Hearts Abroad was life-changing, and one I’ll remember for years to come. The best part of it all is knowing that I was able to volunteer my time towards a noble goal – improving health outcomes for people with diabetes. To travel to a country with such a fascinating culture and experience the day-to-day is something I’ll always cherish.