A scene from the launch video for the Mithaas campaign. (Photo: mithaas.org)

A scene from the launch video for the Mithaas campaign. (Photo: mithaas.org)

HEALTH

VIDEO: ‘Desi vs. Diabetes’ fight for South Asian seniors in new made-in-Surrey campaign

‘Are you really going to let sugar take you down?’ asks Mithaas project launch video

A Surrey-based media company has helped create a new health-focused campaign designed to reduce rates of diabetes among South Asian seniors.

It’s called Mithaas – “sweetness” in Punjabi – and it’s a partnership of Dunya Media and Cities Changing Diabetes, an international health organization.

A “Desi vs. Diabetes” launch video aims to “disrupt the regular scare-tactic messaging used to reach South Asian seniors, and instead talk to them in a way that resonates, empowering them to make a change.”

The PSA features South Asian seniors in a slick, music-filled ad created to re-frame “how an underserved community thinks about their health by focusing on a simple message: the immigrant experience you’ve been through is way tougher than the experience of reducing your sugar.”

Says a male voice in the clip, as a kicker: “You’ve worked hard your whole life and built a legacy. So, after all that, are you really going to let sugar take you down?”

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW)

According to organizers of the campaign, South Asians are three times more likely to have diabetes than the average Canadian, and the disease affects more than 35,000 South Asians in the Fraser Valley alone.

“It’s not for lack of awareness,” Kashif Pasta, Dunya’s creative director, says in a release. “South Asians know it’s a problem, but diabetes often feels inevitable when people don’t know what to do about it. When the foods and products that support the growth of diabetes are associated with positivity and fun, and prevention and management of diabetes is reduced to statistics and shame, the average person chooses to just… not think about it.”

Pasta says Mithaas aims to make conversations about health more positive and accessible to a community lacking in culturally-relevant information. The platform will include videos, a narrative short film, shareable graphics and “offline” events in Vancouver, Surrey and Brampton, Ontario, all in “a simple, focused, positive, and fun approach to health and wellness that doesn’t get caught up in fatalism or negativity.”

Also, with the WhatsApp messaging service via the number 778-775-3461, users can subscribe to weekly tips and videos sent to a phone.

“With each of our platforms,” Pasta explained, “we’re meeting people where they already are, instead of asking them to come to us. South Asian seniors are incredibly active on WhatsApp and their adult children are more active on Instagram.

“Our parents and grandparents have done and sacrificed so much – they’re heroes and diabetes shouldn’t be what ultimately holds them back.”

A short film called “Aadha Chammach,” also directed by Pasta, offers a nine-minute story of how “Preet tries to hide her diabetes from her busy daughter and family. Until one morning, things take a turn for the worse.”

The campaign’s first video, posted to Youtube.com two weeks ago, has more than 1,100 views so far.

“Love your work. You are working for a good cause. Thank you,” commented a user known as abdulpasta.

“You need to contact BBC Asian Network and promote this,” added Speedy Janjua. “Desis are still not learning we are dying from a preventable illness.”

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tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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