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Freedom Swim South Africa - Annabelle Slingerland

We would like to feature Dr. Annabelle Slingerland, a fellow medical professional working to bring awareness to pediatric and adolescent diabetes.

On Freedom Day, April 27, 2017, Dr. Slingerland who is an avid swimmer, swam from Robben Island to the shores of Big Bay, South Africa, an incredible feat done in the name of diabetes awareness and research. 

See below for Dr. Slingerland's personal statement.


Personal message

" 'For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.' Nelson Mandela

April 27th is Freedom day that went viral, from South Africa to worldwide liberating many from their own thoughts. After an accident, I was litterally chained to bed, but liberated mainly by swimming, it took me nearly a decade but got me out of hospital and rehabilitation centres back to my doctor and researcher's role. I realised that as a patient you can be trapped in the thoughts and believes, and that awareness, studying and practising just as the prisoners on Robben Island once did, can set you free even if you are still imprisonned. Robben Island's Challenge to conquer are waters of 10'C, waves that can be 10m high, 10K long, and sharks- just like life.

Diabetes (diurrhesis or 'it has to flow') typically in the young takes patients through waves of resistance, denial and unawareness of what they are themselves capable of, just like the Atlantic Ocean. Education can help. In South Africa, though this is according to Professor Bonnici, an icon in the field, deteriorating and he sees his sweat born work falling apart after his retirement. Interestingly his comrade Professor Wolfsdorf also from SA has built up a satelite in the USA, where once Joslin founded his famous Diabetes Institute emphasizing with Priscilla White, exercise, diet and education.

Red Cross was the organisation that Nelson Mandela and comaraded hightlighted as having liberated their harsh circumstances and supported their strength. Red Cross War Memorial Hospital was also the hospital that was purely founded on donations after WWII and the first entirely dedicated to children and adolescents. I have been staying in this magnificent country for while and adore the resilience and ever lasting love that does not always travel in the media around the world but that is definately still at its heart. As we focus on these, we help ourselves as well. TIA as they say, this is Africa!

On these cross roads, I am therefore happy to contribute the swim from Robben Island not only symbolically as awareness and own empowerment and liberation for the kids that will be on the beach when I swim accross but also to the UBUNTU idea especially currently for South Africa, to believe in the idea that we exist because of the other and that sharing and donating our own comfort is the most normal thing to mutual growth. Since entering diabetes, whatever I have done voluntary unpaid, hence also here everything will go to the aim.

'N mens is 'n mens danksy ander mense' as they say in 'Afrikaans'."


If you would like to donate to the successful cause in the name of adolescent and pediatric diabetes, please click here.

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