The inspirational story of José Gabriel... 

In 1984, José Gabriel, a six-month-old boy in Quito, Ecuador, went into a coma and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Despite the efforts of his parents, both of whom were physicians, José could not stay healthy. His parents spent most of the family's income on insulin but to no avail. Eight years later José lapsed into another coma. With no other option, his family brought their child to the U.S. for treatment, where they soon discovered that a lack of diabetes education can be just as dangerous as a lack of insulin.

AYUDA was founded in 1997 by two Georgetown Day School high school teenagers, Nick Cuttriss and Jesse Fuchs-Simon, with a vision inspired by the plight of José Gabriel. While in high school, Nick and Jesse received seed funding for AYUDA from Ashoka’s Youth Venture. Soon after, AYUDA’s work began in Ecuador and then expanded to other parts of Latin America and the world.

Since then, AYUDA has grown significantly in capacity and reach to become an organization that is recognized as an international leader in the development and delivery of diabetes education, advocacy, and youth empowerment programs. AYUDA’s successful growth is a product of the diligence and dedication of its volunteers.


AYUDA (American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad, Inc.) is a non-profit volunteer-based organization that empowers youth to serve as agents of social change in diabetes communities around the world.


Become a leader and pioneer in developing culturally sensitive and sustainable diabetes volunteer programs for youth to serve as agents of change for other youth abroad. 

Guiding Principles

  1. A lack of education is just as dangerous as a lack of insulin. AYUDA was founded in reaction to seeing children with diabetes who had access to insulin and medical treatment but still suffered complications and early death, because they did not know how to manage their condition. AYUDA programs address the severe lack of education by implementing our innovative youth-to-youth education model.

  2. Youth can serve as powerful agents of change. Youth empowerment is the foundation of our work at AYUDA, and is exemplified by the members of the AYUDA team. Our educational and youth leadership programs increase interaction among youth, develop awareness of their ability to impact change in their communities, and provide them with the tools and skills to do so.

  3. Understanding is just as important as doing. AYUDA partners with local communities and organizations in order to better understand their issues and to help create innovative solutions. Learning and understanding cultural context is critical to developing solutions prior to taking action.


Empower passionate youth to become leaders of social change. Read more about AYUDA Volunteers.

Motivate young people with diabetes to lead happier and healthier lives. Read more about our Programs Approach.

Strengthen local diabetes communities by promoting youth leadership. Read about our Local Partners.

Build AYUDA as a sustainable and collaborative organization to accomplish its mission. Support our work here.