In 1984 just before Christmas six year old Samanta in Equador was dying of her diabetes – because she had no insulin. Insulin for Life (IFL) heard, found her family and got insulin to her. Today little Samanta has graduated from university and is thriving.
That was the beginning of this humble Australian organization that now collects and transports unused insulin and diabetes supplies, like test strips, to children, women and men around the world. They have already:
- Saved 20,000 people’s lives
- Given out 4,000,000 mls of insulin (400,000 vials)
- Saved $12,000,000 worth of insulin from landfills
In short, they are repurposing what many of us casually see as waste to save lives: Collecting unused insulin and strips and transporting them to where people die without them. Yes, this is an ask, yes you should keep reading.
Insulin for Life’s mission is to bring viable insulin from the first world to the third. To ensure that 25,000 people in 50 disadvantaged countries will have insulin by 2020.
In 2005 I attended a diabetes conference where I met the founder of IFL, Ron Raab, and his daughter Tali. I have met them many times since. This is a small, amazing organization doing incredible work. They have been doing it for 32 years – and they need help.
They have two major problems. One is supply. Tens of thousands of vials of good, usable insulin and unused test strips get thrown into landfills and incinerated. How? Why? Often because patients’ treatment regimens change. Without thinking, we dump our leftover insulin and strips into the trash. Without realizing that every 6 seconds someone dies because they don’t have any insulin. Without knowing where and how to send them to those in need.
In some countries like Australia as much as 75% of discarded insulin is still usable – if it’s unopened, unused and in date. If you have viable insulin and/or test strips, please send them to Insulin for Life.
Problem two is transportation. Something so basic yet without funds for getting insulin where it needs to go, it doesn’t go. Fifty percent of people around the world who need insulin only get it when the plane lands with it onboard and the truck drives it to town.
Here’s the solution: $5 transports enough insulin for a child to live another month. $260 buys someone’s life for a year. Donate if you can here.
The other man I met in 2005 at the IFL booth was Neil Donelan. This giant, big hearted Aussie is still going into South American jungles to get these supplies on foot, and by river raft, where they need to go. He mesmerized me with his stories and made me draw a new picture of “hero.”
Today, World Diabetes Day, be a hero to someone whom you may never meet but whose life you’ll change forever. Donate supplies if you have them and any dollar amount you choose. As they say, ”Pay it forward.”
You’ll get serious joy all day from helping. Plus you can celebrate your generosity and watch for what good deed comes winging back to you from someone else who’s just paid it forward too.
Originally published in The Huffington Post.