On 29 January, the official inauguration of the first DREAM centre in Nigeria was held in Abuja, the capital of this large African country. The Archbishop, Mgr John Onaiyekan, was present at the ceremony as was a representative of the Health Minister, Dr Ngozi Nyepuome, and local authorities.
The DREAM centre is situated in Kubwa, one of Abuja’s satellite cities with a population of around one million residents. The centre was set up in the context of a close alliance between the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity to fight AIDS in Africa.
The centre actually opened its doors some months ago. Today, nearly 500 patients attend, people on treatment or pregnant women who are undertaking prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus. The staff of the centre, which is run directly by the Daughters of Charity, is made up of 20 socio-health workers and can already count on the support of some campaigners.
One of those who addressed the inauguration ceremony was a 41-year-old patient, the father of two children, who shared his story of marginalization because of the disease and of renewal when he met hope in DREAM. “Shortly after I was diagnosed with AIDS, I lost my job and then, one after the other, many of my friends. When I learned about the centre and was able to start treatment, new hope was given to me. I rediscovered much of the energy I had lost. Together with other patients, I started to work to ensure that others are not infected, to fight prejudice and stigma and to make known the dream of treatment for many…”
The Kubwa centre, which can rely on the services of a molecular biology laboratory, will be a centre of reference for other DREAM centres that the Daughters of Charity plan to set up in the country. In fact, many sisters came from all over Nigeria to participate in the inauguration. They wanted to celebrate the first of many establishments that they are preparing to open.