In the month of March, the first national assembly of leaders of the Association “People for DREAM” was held in Blantyre.
Over a year ago, some patients of the DREAM centres of Malawi (there are about a dozen by now), wanted to start a movement – of people with HIV and others – to accompany and support the work of DREAM in the country, and to give rise to public awareness about the respect of the dignity of HIV-positive people.
What’s more, many small groups got organized in urban areas and in villages, to help orphans and patients in difficulty, and to spread the Association across the entire country.
Around 80 leaders coming from as many districts and villages in the centre and south of Malawi participated in the March meeting.
It was an important time for coordination, to take stock of activities undertaken by each group, to discuss future challenges, and to map out a shared path together.
Further, it was decided to change the original name (“Women for DREAM” – the movement originally emerged from the initiative taken by some women) to “People for DREAM”, to take into account the now considerable membership of men.
At the meeting, the chief commitments that were the focus of narrative reports and planning for the future were: supporting people who come to the centres (encouragement to do the rapid HIV test to know one’s status; offering an economic contribution to those who have no money to pay for transport); being close to them; home care; HIV-positive children (help to administer treatment to children; nutritional counselling for children who are victims of malnutrition); and the dissemination of basic health education. Also discussed was support for elderly people who have been abandoned by their families, and those who are generally most vulnerable and marginalized
The Association currently has 1400 members who are HIV-positive. All these people, beyond the specific activities of each individual group, are primarily committed to sharing the spirit of DREAM, a spirit born of the experience of the Community of Sant’Egidio and which is concretized in help freely given, and in befriending those who are infected.