Young Leaders from Netherlands

My name is Annelieke and I am 21 years old.
I was born in Hamburg, Germany and have lived in the Netherlands as well as in Germany since then. Because I have lived in different countries, I had the opportunity to go to international schools and therefore I speak Dutch, English and German fluently.
I am currently studying nutrition and health with a special interest for nutrition in developing countries and/or immunology.
In my free time I like to play tennis, play the drums or take walks with my camera.

I was diagnosed with diabetes during my holidays in the USA in 2002. It was 2 months before I turned 11. I remember that they really took good care of me; they gave me nice books and a bear named Rufus who also had diabetes. Their attitude changed my approach towards diabetes fairly quickly. Because I knew I could never change it, I decided to make the best out of it.
Since then I have always gone to diabetes youth camps for in the Netherlands and when I turned 18 I decided it was time for me to do something back for the diabetes world. As my life with diabetes started in the USA, my first action was to go to a camp there and be a counsellor at the Clara Barton Camp near Boston.

I’m Jonna Verdel 26 years old, living In Utrecht, the Netherlands. I’ve studied Theatre, film and television studies and scriptwriting for screen and radio. I’ve had several jobs and currently I’m working in a call centre.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 3 years old. I can’t really remember it. I know my mother recognized the signs: I was tired and extremely thirsty. They took me to the hospital where they tested my blood sugar, gave me a sugary soda to drink and tested my blood sugar again to see if it was higher than before. After two weeks in the hospital I was allowed to go home and live my life. To me that meant playing with friends, do my best in school, occasionally misbehave and always make sure I only drank diet soft drinks and take good care of myself.

My biggest challenge in living with diabetes is the attitude some people have towards it. When I was fourteen my body rejected pump treatment and I ended up in hospital with hyperglycaemia. When I returned to school and told my classmates what had happened they didn’t seem to care. “After all diabetes wasn’t something serious”. On those bad days I wish people would know more about it and understand it a bit better.