Posted on December 22, 2019

Twenty years ago, there was an urgent need to provide a platform from which children in Qatar with diabetes could learn how to live with it - including by adopting healthy lifestyles – in a time before social media and with diabetes awareness not being at the level it has reached today.

Qatar Diabetes Association’s Al Bawasil Camp filled this gap. And as it marks two decades of supporting children with diabetes, Dr. Abdulla Al Hamaq, the Qatar Foundation member’s Executive Director, has looked back at the launch and the evolution of the camp, which is held under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, its Honorary President.

Dr. Al Hamaq said: “Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, identified the necessity of establishing a camp in Qatar where children from different countries who had been diagnosed with diabetes would meet to provide them with a unique and enjoyable experience in a safe environment. “Now the 20th edition of Al Bawasil Camp is being held under the slogan ‘We Can’ from December 21-26 December. It will host 50 children aged 7-11, from 12 countries from the region and beyond: Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Sudan, Algeria, Libya, Palestine, Iran, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, and South Africa."

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Al Bawasil Camp offers a daily educational program that includes a range of recreational activities, some of which are held in cooperation with QF’s Recreation Center, to help children learn the best ways of controlling diabetes and coexisting with diabetes. It also allows children with diabetes to meet in one place and exchange their experiences with each other. The camp is run by a qualified team consisting of resident doctors, nurses and dietitians, and administrative teams, including people with diabetes who have previously participated in Al Bawasil.

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Awatif Hussein El-Sayed, public relations officer, QDA, said: “The first experience that the children we help had of a diabetes camp was in the US, and it was a very good experience for all them. “This led us to launch our first camp in 1999, including children from all the GCC countries, and after 10 years the camp became regional by opening the door to children with diabetes from countries across the Middle East and North Africa. "Over the years, the Al Bawasil Camp has become one of the largest and most important diabetes awareness-raising activities in the region. The International Diabetes Federation announced in 2013 that it would be considered a global camp that can receive children from around the world to build and promote a successful coexistence with diabetes.

"The camp runs for a week and provides educational and entertainment programs that include medical workshops, in a fun and easily-understandable way. It offers a healthy environment for children living with diabetes and teaches them how to avoid any complications that may affect their lives."