On 23 February, in Maputo, Mozambican people working for the DREAM programme celebrated 40 years of the Community of Sant’Egidio.
This slight delay in celebrating an occasion which in reality falls on 7 February was due to the fact that the first 15 days of the month were very difficult ones for Mozambique.
The continuous increase in petrol prices, in common with many other countries, had heavy repercussions on the cost of living (due to the increase in transport expenses).
Within a few days, in late January, the price of bread and rice rocketed by around 30%. These increases were too sudden and sharp for the average Mozambican family.
When, in early February, the price of public transport – the small Pullman, “chapas”, which guarantee daily connections in the cities – climbed by 40%, the cost of living became untenable for many.
Worry for the future turned into anguish and alas into anger. On 4 and 5 February, thousands of residents of Maputo, starting from the outskirts, took to the streets in spontaneous protest. There were incidents, and real acts of violence.
Many people were injured, and unfortunately not a few deaths occurred. In the days that followed, the clashes spread to other cities of the country.
Celebrating the feast of the community had to wait until the situation calmed down, with a government decision to subsidize chapas owners so that the price of tickets would not increase for transport users.
The celebration was not held publicly, this was impossible, but at least there was an informal gathering, like a family party.
The 120 people who work for the DREAM programme of Maputo didn’t want to miss out on the event.
They met at the Centro para Criança, the new DREAM day hospital dedicated to the treatment of HIV-positive children, which recently started to operate in the city centre.
At the party, after the greetings by Dr Ines Zimba, coordinator of the DREAM programme in Mozambique, and by representatives of some DREAM centres, the first years of DREAM were revisited, with the help of slides.
There were many pictures of Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community, with the early friends outside the shacks of Cinodromo and in the Primavalle neighourhood.
Recounting this story to the Mozambicans, one could not help but dwell on the memory of the initial aid sent by the Community to Mozambique, and its negotiations for peace.
All those present – from those who have been working for DREAM for some time and those who joined them more recently – unanimously felt proud of belonging one large family, to such an important history.
In a difficult month, a day of memories and celebration helped many to shift their glance ahead and to look to the future with hope.