The members of the Lions Club of Dar es Salaam Tanzanites decided that it was time to come out with their story. In the small Tanzanian city, where everyone knows everyone, there is still a social stigma about health conditions like diabetes.
Lion Attar Kaur Saini…shared her story on social media in an effort to destigmatize…diabetes in her community.
But the Dar es Salaam Lions know that being aware of the early signs and acting on them—getting to a doctor, getting diagnosed—can have big health ramifications. So, they decided to start outing themselves on social media in an effort to raise awareness about diabetes and destigmatize the disease.
Real people, real stories on social media
Lion Attar Kaur Saini shared her story as part of a series the club is calling “Real People, Real Stories.” Expecting a child in December of 2018, Attar was experiencing a smooth pregnancy until her 28th week. “I began feeling extremely tired,” she writes in her awareness post. “I would have a frequent need to visit the loo, felt thirsty and [had] cold sweats.” Concerned, Attar mentioned this to her doctor. Further testing revealed she had gestational diabetes.
“Obviously, the first thought in my mind was what will happen to my baby,” wrote Attar. But her doctor explained that it wasn’t uncommon, especially in women with a family history of diabetes, and there were steps she could take to keep her and her baby healthy. Unmanaged, gestational diabetes can have health effects on the baby and contribute to a difficult birth.
Attar paid close attention to her diet and began taking medication to help keep her blood sugar in check. “I ask all expecting mothers to please be alert,” she writes.
Starting to see the results
The charter president of the club, and GST coordinator, Bhavika Sajan, hopes that by using social media to spread personal stories of those affected by diabetes, the people in her community will not only be more educated about the early signs and symptoms, but be more willing to talk about them with their doctors.
“People still take diabetes very lightly,” she says. “However, the responses we have been receiving are overwhelming. The posts are doing really well.” Attar’s post included a video that received more than 1,000 views.
Attar delivered a healthy baby boy on November 26, 2018.
Get started: How to share your story
Here are a few tips for sharing personal stories on your club’s Facebook page:
- Be consistent. Consider a series similar to Dar es Salaam Lions’ “Real People, Real Stories.” Focus on a particular global cause, or post features of members expressing what being a Lion means to them. Post on the same day each week.
- Be authentic. In a space where brands and organizations are fighting for visibility, social media users crave authenticity. Post personal stories in first-person narrative or include direct quotes – allowing the members or beneficiaries to tell their own stories with their own voices.
- Be visual. Include a high-resolution photo or video of the storyteller. Don’t forget to tag him or her in the post.
- Be respectful. Not everyone wants their story to be public. Before posting someone else’s story and photo on your social media channels, be sure to ask permission. Obtain signed release forms from parents or guardians before posting any stories about or photos of children.
For more social media tips, join our Lions SMiLE community on Facebook.
Jacquelyn MacKenzie is the social media and community manager for Lions Clubs International.