On 6 November, at the headquarters of Sant’Egidio in Rome, a meeting took place with around 50 representatives of religious congregations at work in Tanzania, Kenya and Malawi. They wanted to know more about the DREAM programme and to assess the possibility of shared activities in the struggle against AIDS, considering that DREAM has been rooted in the health systems of these eastern African countries for quite some time now. Congregations present numbered 32, often represented by high-ranking members (superiors and/or generals, general council).
Apart from some Italian workers of DREAM who described various features of the programme, two sisters addressed the meeting: Sr Carmen Bartolomé, superior general of the Teresians (Society of St Teresa of Jesus), and Sr Wivine Kisu, councillor for Africa of the Vincentians (Daughters of Charity). Both congregations reached agreements of collaboration with the Community of Sant’Egidio some time ago, and antiretroviral treatment according to DREAM protocols is now available in some of their health centres in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sr Wivine Kisu retraced the history of the synergy between the Community and the Daughters of Charity, underlining the beauty of a shared work, the strength that derives from all this, adding: “The motor of all was love for the poor. It was the charisma of our two communities that drew us closer, prompting us towards a new dynamism, to an alliance in the name of the poor.”
Sr Carmen Bartolomé also dwelt upon the decisive aspect that is the encounter with the sick. The superior of the Teresians started by insisting passionately on the real opportunities inherent in harmonious cooperation between different associations, and about the significance of the relationship established in this perspective between her institution and the Community of Sant’Egidio. From this relationship, she continued, “a growing attraction for each other’s vision and charisma” was born, as well as “an ever stronger desire to work together to make a better world possible.” Sr Carmen spoke about the fruits borne of the commitment with DREAM for the health centre in Cubal in Angola. These were fruits for the sick, she said, but also for the sisters themselves: “The involvement we are experiencing is leading us to a deeper awareness of living conditions of people in Africa. This is an awareness that translates into a process of conversion of the heart and mind. We are learning from the poor to be simpler and more compassionate.”