Group has all the goods

2017-05-30 06:00

A Tafelsig woman wants to empower community members to beat diabetes by helping them to be better informed.

When Vanessa Kallend visited her doctor for a minor infection, a blood test showed raised sugar levels and she was diagnosed with diabetes.

She showed no symptoms of diabetes before that, but now 16 years later, she wants to use her experience to give back to the ­community.

Kallend started a support group for people suffering from diabetes, and hopes to create an opportunity for residents to learn together and share their experiences.

Kallend has been living in Mitchell’s Plain for 32 years, moving to Tafelsig in 2009.

“My mother and father had diabetes, two of my siblings have diabetes, my one son has diabetes, even my grandmother had diabetes,” she says.

“I want to empower people with information so they can take better care of their health. The worst for me is to see people suffering from amputations, which takes away their independence.”

Kallend sought help from her long-time friend who also runs a diabetes support group.

Kallend’s support group is now also supported by Diabetes South Africa, which provides guidance and information resources.

The organisation also recently sent Kallend on a four-day training workshop to improve her knowledge of diabetes care.

“The workshop was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. What I found most surprising is the food information; it is really not about diet foods, but using everyday foods in a healthy way,” she says.

The support group was started at the end of last year and is gradually gathering ­momentum.

When asked what the biggest challenges are, Kallend says: “I think people are scared to come and be told what to do and what not to do. But that’s not like that. It’s about creating a place where you can learn more and share your stories, good and bad. I am excited to see how eager people are for more information on diabetes.”

The support group meetings are hosted at the Tafelsig community centre every second Wednesday from 10:00 to noon.

Attendees have their blood pressure, sugar levels and weight checked before a guest speaker hosts an informative discussion. Topics include food, medication and ­exercise.

At the next meeting on Wednesday 14 June Jennifer McKenzie of the Heart and Stroke Foundation will discuss blood pressure and heart diseases. The foundation also donated a blood pressure machine to the group and recipe books to hand out to new members.

V Anyone interested in attending can call Vanessa ­Kallend on 064 419 0895.

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