The second Saturday of the month is an important day in Materi, central Kenya. It is the day of the monthly meeting of patients of the local DREAM centre with activists and staff.
They call it a “support group” and for us, it is the vision of a dream come true.
Now it is the rainy season and roads have become impassible because of the mud so that the “matutu” – coaches that act as a public transport service – do not manage to reach our centre. But patients, rather than lose this precious opportunity to meet, this encouragement in hope, face long hours of walking to come.
The campaigners welcome them, offering them food and drink. When everyone is dry and replenished, the meeting starts with a prayer. Actually, the entire meeting is like a prayer: it is a place where sick people can share their difficulties, face their fears and talk about their daily lives. But there is also gratitude expressed for having met DREAM, for the change that has come about in their lives since.
Campaigners and staff of the centre intervene too, further enriching the conversation, highlighting what has been learnt together, clarifying doubts, melting down resistance and searching for solutions.
The meeting lasts for more than three hours, without interruption, revealing the urgent desire to talk, to be listened to, which is in all of us. Even more so, it bears witness to the great yearning for life found in each one, a desire reborn around a shared dream, European and African.
The climate is friendly, as people come together, thanks to DREAM, to fight side by side for life – at a time when there is so much talk of death – and to support one another.