Overcoming Discrimination and Bullying – by Yemurai Machirori

Not all heroes wear capes. Some overcome discrimination and bullying to pursue their dreams and graduate from college like our dear friend, Yemurai!

My name is Yemurai Machirori and I am 24 years old and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in September 2004, a month before my 12th birthday. I was born in a family of three and yes, I am the only one with diabetes. Growing up in a community where I did not know any other child with diabetes was extremely difficult for me, even though I have never admitted it. I am currently working with my diabetes association but I am in the process of starting my own diabetes organisation that will help children with diabetes specifically. Since I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was in junior school, I figured that I could just start my story from the beginning.

 Junior/High School
The first year after my diagnosis was surprisingly the easiest of the 13 that I have lived with diabetes. Probably because I was in a familiar territory and around the friends that I had known throughout junior school. In turn, my studies were not affected much as the workload was still manageable.  

The tide seemed to change when I went to high school a year later. The new environment, new people, sudden increase in the workload and of course, the hormonal imbalance didn’t spare me. Suddenly I started feeling like a different person and more aware of the fact that I was “different” from everyone else.  

Undoubtedly, my high school years were my most challenging years to date; I hated school because I was always diabetes-related issues of some sort. Aside the regular “hypers”, I experienced discrimination for the first time. I remember breaking two vials of insulin in the bathroom because of one particular girl who had told me to start taking my shots there since she was “scared” of my injections. I even had to draw some insulin off the bathroom floor one time since I had broken my insulin vial and my sugars were running high. As a result, I was a bit reserved during my high school years because I did not want to be judged for having a condition that I did not choose to have. It is however important to note that it was during my high school years that I finally made a decision to stand up to people who discriminated me because of my diabetes. 

Despite all of this, I managed to get into college where I studied Tourism and Hospitality Management. 

I can safely say that I did not face as many challenges when I was in college as I had found my feet during my high school days. Some days were rocky but I definitely knew how to deal with diabetes and any negativity that was thrown at me by some people. 

Most of my challenges revolved around me actually wanting to be a “normal” child/student and not being looked at differently by my school mates. I still believe that the biggest challenge I faced was not because of the people who didn’t understand what I was going through at that time, but the fact that I did not have anyone to talk to about my feelings.  “Who would want to play with a person who constantly had to either prick or inject themselves?”, was the question I constantly asked myself until I realised that the few friends that I had made in each stage of my academic life with diabetes were there to stay and see me through, especially on my bad days.  

Having family and friends around me, and eventually meeting more people who were my age, who had achieved more than what I have really helped me get through my studies and inspired me to keep going. At the end of the day, it is all about me and my confidence to stand up against those who did not believe in me and those who viewed me as less of a person. Above all, it is about making the choice of standing up against diabetes that helped me achieve what I have so far. And I am not stopping.

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