With more than 422 million people worldwide grappling with the challenges of diabetes, raising awareness and providing education have become critical components in the global effort to combat this escalating health threat.
Committed to this mission is the Bovell Cancer-Diabetes Foundation (BCDF), a non-governmental organisation dedicated to enriching lives affected by cancer and diabetes. Founded in December 2008, the foundation operates as a voluntary, incorporated, and non-profit entity.
Its mission, as articulated by Dr Adelia Bovell-Benjamin, a director, is to provide financial resources, support, preventive and management education for individuals living with cancer and diabetes.
The foundation is managed by a board of 12 directors who share a collective vision of making a positive impact on the lives of those affected by these chronic conditions. It was created in honour of Mildred and Theophilus Bovell, for their extraordinary commitment to enriching lives. Their daughter, Bovell-Benjamin, said, “Their passion for helping others and enhancing the community in which they lived impacted many individuals. They inspired young people to pursue their education, and older adults to enhance their skills in adult education classes.”
The foundation continues to raise awareness, provide education, and advocate for improved healthcare. With a steady pool of approximately 35 volunteers, and with additional volunteers mobilised for specific projects, the foundation recognises the invaluable role of volunteers in realising its mission.
“One of the most important assets of the foundation is its volunteers.” Bovell-Benjamin said. “BCDF is proud to give people the opportunity to incorporate service into their lives while making a difference in their community, country, and perhaps in the world.”
The commitment to raising awareness and supporting affected individuals is well represented in the calendar of events. As part of activities to mark World Diabetes Day which was observed on November 14, the foundation hosted the 15th Annual Diabetes in the Limelight event on November 10, at the Cyd Gray Sporting Complex in Roxborough, Tobago, with the theme, Know your risk, Know your response.
The all-day health fair featured booths offering blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol testing, diabetes-related information, weight clinics, footcare education, stroke education and spirituality. Also, a food demonstration by a qualified nutritionist showcased the preparation of a healthy, culturally-appropriate dish.
Bovell-Benjamin see the observance of World Diabetes Day as a call to action for everyone. She said, “It is a call to action for individuals, communities, and nations to work together in creating a healthier future and ensuring that people living with diabetes have the knowledge and resources needed for effective management and well-being.”
Among its diverse activities the BCDF's education drive also include, the Children and Teen Hangout, small group workshops, and monthly So in Love with my Feet sessions.
Students are engaged in the activities through the Video Monologue Contest and the School Children Poster competition. The monologue contest, which started on October 1 and ended on November 6, saw secondary school students competing for the title of Bovell Cancer-Diabetes Foundation Monologue Champion by creating two-minute videos addressing the 2023 slogan, Know Your Risk, Know Your Response. The poster competition engaged students between the ages of six-15, fostering awareness and education about diabetes prevention and management.
Despite the challenges posed by the covid19 pandemic, the foundation continued its work by adapting to the circumstances. Virtual jamborees in 2020 and 2021 successfully recreated the annual face-to-face experience, allowing participants to engage in diabetes and stroke prevention messages, healthy cooking demonstrations, and other activities. In 2022, a return to face-to-face events marked a mixed experience, with the introduction of the new spirituality booth.
However, the pandemic era brought challenges in securing sponsors. Bovell-Benjamin said, “In the post-pandemic era, sponsors continued to be a great challenge. This highlights the ongoing need for support to ensure the foundation’s impactful work can persist."
For 2023, Bovell-Benjamin explains the thinking behind the theme, Know Your Risk, Know Your Response: “The campaign focuses on the importance of knowing your risk of type 2 diabetes to help delay or prevent the condition and highlighting the impact of diabetes-related complications and the importance of having access to the right information and care to ensure timely treatment and management.”
How does the BCDF assist individuals and families?
“We assist people living with cancer or diabetes with things like travelling between the twin-island state for medical purposes, (and) those who are unable to pay medical bills. Our Life of a Child project meets the immediate needs of a child with diabetes, etcetera.”
In recognising the importance of collaboration in achieving its mission, Bovell-Benjamin said, “The Bovell Cancer Diabetes Foundation collaborates with any organisation which is above board and where the relationship benefits all involved.”
The foundation is an active member of the NCD Alliance, the Cancer Society, the Diabetes Association, and the Cropper Foundation for World NGO Day, the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, and participates in the Netzkraft Movement.
For more info on the Bovell Cancer Diabetes Foundation and to stay updated on its activities and events, visit www.bovellcancerdiabetesfoundation.org, call (868) 667-2576 or WhatsApp (334) 590-3073 or visit its social media pages.