Kristel Jenniskens at last year's Last Man Standing (above) and Minela Haskovic, Britt Derks and Britt Delnoy in their Metakids shirts.
It is a long time ago when collecting money for a good cause meant going around with a collection box. Every year, thousands of people are sponsored to cycle, run or take on some other physical challenge. Students and employees from the UM do their part too. Observant spoke to some of them.
“Talking about psychological problems helps, but it is hard”
Kristel Jenniskens, second-year student of Health Sciences, will stand on a pole for six hours on 5 September for MIND, a foundation that helps people with mental health problems.
“I myself had mental health problems during my previous study, Nursing, and I noticed that talking helped. It is still a taboo subject. If I myself take the initiative to talk about it, others usually follow. It is difficult, certainly if you have just started a new study and you often don’t have someone you can confide in yet. I had a kind of depression. Not according to the official guidelines, but that is what it was very similar to. I had suicidal thoughts and harmed myself. Fortunately, I found good help and things are better now.”
Last year, Jenniskens participated in Last Man Standing for the first time. During this action, participants ask for more attention to be paid to mental health problems by sitting on a pole that is in the water for six hours. “I’m a mail mate for Stichting Zelfbeschadiging (Self-harm Foundation). This means that I offer support and am a point of contact for someone who wants to harm himself or herself and who has nobody nearby to talk to. A few members from our mail mate team were participating and asked me if I wanted to join them. Six hours seems like a long time, but it was doable, even without practising beforehand. You are well looked after with food and drinks, and if you can’t do it anymore, you just get off. It doesn’t go by the hour, you collect money prior to the event. What I really like is that my boyfriend is also participating this year. Last year, he supported me from the sidelines, now from the pole.”
MIND is dedicated to the improvement of mental health care; better therapies, more openness and shorter waiting lists. “There is a lot of attention for the latter because of Charlotte Bouwman’s action; she laid in front of the Ministry of Public Health. Shorter waiting lists are very important. When you feel bad, any delay is too long. You just deteriorate.”
If you want to support Jenniskens and her friend, please go to https://www.doemeemetmind.nl/team/k-b
“Not being able to metabolise a sugar can have tremendous consequences”
Britt Delnoy (student doctor and clinical researcher) and PhD students Britt Derks and Minela Haskovic are going run 10 kilometres during the ‘Groene Loper Run’ (postponed until 11 October) to raise awareness for galactosemia. As well as collecting money for Metakids, a foundation that supports children with metabolic disorders.
Galactosemia is a metabolic disorder that prevents the body from metabolising a specific sugar (galactose), which is mainly found in milk. “The first symptoms occur when the baby is born and is given breast milk,” says Haskovic. “They can then become very sick and even sometimes die. If it is discovered on time, the only option that one has, it to opt for a lactose-free diet for the rest of one’s life, but even then, there are often neurological, cognitive and fertility problems.” Derks: “So not being able to metabolise one sugar can have tremendous consequences.”
Haskovic and Derks are both doing research into the disorder. “The problem is caused by a genetic defect which causes the protein that breaks down galactose (GALT) not to work properly,” says Haskovic. “At the moment, our study is focusing on repairing the functioning of the GALT protein, so that hopefully the metabolising of galactose improves.”
It is important that the disorder receives more attention, says Haskovic. “In the first phase of the illness, you can switch to soya milk and so prevent more serious problems. But to be able to do that, you need to know what the baby is suffering from.”
Galactosemia is certainly not the only metabolic disorder, there are more than a thousand. Metakids, the foundation that Delnoy, Derks and Haskovic are collecting money for, focuses - among other things - on creating more awareness and subsidises research into these disorders.
Why the ‘Groene Loper run’? Delnoy: “It is in Maastricht, the route runs practically past the hospital, we thought that was fun. And cycling has already been done, so we wanted to do something different.” That ten kilometres is not nothing. “We will manage,” says Haskovic self-assured. “But we do still really need to train,” the other two add laughing.
The team can be supported via https://www.actievoormetakids.nl/team/metabolicmastermindsmaastricht
Run to Fight Cancer still managed to collect 17 thousand euro
The event Run to Fight Cancer will not take place this year (just like a lot of other activities for charities). At the beginning of this year, Observant interviewed Quinte Kuper, medical student and one of the board members of Students Fight Cancer. A running event that was to take place in Maastricht for the first time, on 4 April 2020. Nevertheless, the students managed to collect almost 17 thousand euro, "registration fees of which people said: 'keep it', and donations. Our rules state that we cannot return donations," says Kuper.
A new date has not yet been set for next year, says Kuper, “because a lot is still unclear regarding the new rules”. A new board will soon be formed. “We are confident that they will be able take over and will eventually organise the run.”