AYUDA (American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad Inc) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization has been offering life changing educational and empowerment programs abroad for nearly 20 years. AYUDA was established in 1997 with the vision that youth can serve as agents of change for other youth in diabetes communities around the world. AYUDA was founded in reaction to seeing children with diabetes who had access to insulin and basic medical treatment, but still suffered complications and early death because they did not know how to manage their condition. To this end, AYUDA operates under the guiding principle that “a lack of education is just as dangerous as a lack of insulin.”
AYUDA uses an innovative peer leadership model through which international volunteers serve as catalysts to empower local youth living with diabetes to manage their diabetes. AYUDA’s volunteer service-delivery model includes a robust pre-program training (online and in-person), meaningful experience abroad, and post-program evaluation. AYUDA’s volunteers work in partnership with local diabetes organizations to support and enhance diabetes education and outreach programs that target underserved youth with diabetes. In the countries where AYUDA volunteers work, AYUDA’s empowerment model directly impacts young people with diabetes and their families, local health professionals, local governments and ministries of health.
Since 1997, AYUDA has trained over 500 volunteers who have served in over 20 countries. The volunteer program is distinguished for its excellence by the International Volunteer Program Association and has been recognized for social entrepreneurship and innovation by Ashoka, the World Bank as a 2007 Development Marketplace Finalist, and the United Nations as an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (UNESCO). AYUDA’s model is unique in that we place an unprecedented responsibility on our volunteers.
AYUDA selects volunteers from a competitive pool of high school, university, and graduate students throughout the United States and abroad for an extensive semester training and outreach program to benefit youth living with diabetes. Once accepted into our program, every volunteer participates in the intensive semester-long AYUDA Volunteer Training Program (VTP). Volunteers typically spend anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks abroad working with the local diabetes community to motivate youth to live happier and healthier lives with diabetes. In addition, volunteers are eligible for 200 to 400 hours of service-based learning credits and often receive course credit and community service credit for their work with AYUDA. By involving all of our volunteers in multiple elements of our program preparation and delivery, we provide hands-on experiences that inspire and empower them to serve as agents of social change, not only internationally but in other areas of their lives as well