29 - Mar - 2007
More than 500 people turned up on 28 March at the DREAM centre of Machava to celebrate five years of the programme. Patients, employees, the authorities met amidst music and photos, sweets and testimonies.
Francisco, coordinator of the DREAM centre, acted as master of ceremonies, introducing the authorities present: Carlos Tembe, mayor of Matola, the ambassadors of Italy, Angola, Malawi, the director of the health services of the province, the executive secretary of the National Council of the Struggle against AIDS, activists and the singer Antonio Marcos, who really set the hearts of those present on fire.
Ana Maria Muhai, a campaigner of the Mulheres para o DREAM association, with a thoroughly effective testimony, told the authorities present: “I could not even stand up. The health workers used to come to my house. This went on for several months until I came alone to Machava, on foot. My neighbours couldn’t even believe it was me. That was five years ago and I am still alive. But I want to live at least another 30 or 40, God willing.” Ana Maria, turning to the patients as well as the authorities, said that currently the most serious disease to be fought is discrimination. “Now, in my neighbourhood, they call me the clinic because everyone comes knocking at my door to ask for help. There is the need for more medicines, there is the need for more DREAM initiatives and there is the need to fight together against prejudice. I work as a campaigner, I give health education, and I am so strong that I can carry a sack of 50 kilos, like a man. If I made it, everyone can make it.”
Children born on the DREAM programme were running [and playing] among the photos of the exhibition, DREAM in photos, which was set up in the garden, waiting for their tea. The mayor of Matola, Carlos Tembe, had something to say to them: he told them he wanted them to be the “adults of a tomorrow without AIDS”. Carols Tembe thanked the Community of Sant’Egidio for having had the courage to start anti-retroviral therapy in the country. “Starting proved to be decisive in showing the population, sick people and politicians in power that AIDS is not only a problem to be hidden but a challenge that we can defeat together.”
Dr Nurja could not keep her tears from falling. “When I think about how things were five years ago, few people thought it was possible to use anti-retroviral treatment in Mozambique, few people believed it was possible to enable HIV-positive mothers to give birth to healthy children by giving the women tri-therapy, the same used in the West; to see all these children so happy and healthy at today’s party, seems like a dream to me.”
A few days after a tragic blast at the weapons arsenal of the Armed Forces, DREAM wanted to give a special meaning to this celebration, so as not to forget what happened. The patients and staff of DREAM together wanted a celebration marked by hope and encouragement for patients and staff of the DREAM centre in Benfica, which was struck by the bombs. Today, many of