Today in Conakry, a lesson was held for mothers belonging to DREAM, about weaning their children. This is not something new: in many DREAM centres, there is increasing evidence of the effectiveness of health education, which provides one and all, especially women, with the tools and information needed to protect their health and to raise fully healthy children. Many of the children don’t have AIDS, thanks to vertical prevention; however they are at risk of malnutrition.
Avoiding or defeating malnutrition is the objective of these lessons, which are always well attended and much appreciated by patients (especially by children when, during the practical part of the lesson, the baby food is finally ready and may be tasted).
The real novelty is that this time, the lesson was held by the first group of activists, who have been working at the DREAM centre for about a month.
At the end of January, the first course of “Health Education and Nutrition relating to HIV/AIDS” came to a close, and since the beginning of February, this first group has started to support the daily work of the centre, and to follow some of the more fragile patients at home.
Many of them expressed their gratitude for the training and the desire to help others, like Pierre, who wrote at the end of the course: “It would be great if this training was permanent, because gradually, as we learn more and more, we will be able to help other people with HIV and AIDS, to have hope in life, by explaining to them what we have learned thanks to you. Long live the Benedict XVI DREAM Centre, long live the Community of Sant’Egidio, thank you.”
And Bernadette: “This course encourages me to get to know still more, to be able to help my Guinean population, which is 40% illiterate, and to be able to serve the other countries of the world. I thank our trainers who had the will and the courage to put themselves at the service of the poor, of the Guineans. Bravo to the members of DREAM!”
Thus, during the lesson, with great enthusiasm, the activists explained the importance of proper and varied nutrition for children, very effectively relaying that which they had learned in the January course.
Some of them talked about themselves, about the difficulties they experienced when their own child was born, proving how, even in a country as severely impoverished as Guinea is, it is possible – with the help of food aid which all the mothers receive from DREAM – to offer children proper nutrition.
The presence of a number of men among the group of activists, who were able to teach and to handle pans and stoves, was much appreciated by the patients, who were amused and interested in the explanations: it signals a difference and a possible change for men too, who normally would not get involved in such activities which, together with good food, guarantee the health and survival of the children.