by Deogratias Mmana
OVER 300 HIV activists across the country have ganged up and formed what they call ‘I Dream Movement’ aimed at fighting stigmatisation against people living with Aids and giving such people hope for life.
The activists have formed the movement after learning skills from other African countries during a sixth Pan African Dream conference held in Rome in May this year. Forty activists from Malawi attended the conference sponsored by St.Egidio.
Dream, an acronym for Drug Resource Enhancement against Aids and Malnutrition, is a programme based on a holistic approach of treating Aids in Africa, launched in February 2002 by the Community of St. Egidio.
The programme is in Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, the Republic of Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. Some countries under Dream formed such a movement some time back and others are in the course of forming the movement.
"We want to fight for the rights of those living with Aids, especially women. We would like to pass messages to all those suffering from Aids that they are not on death sentence and should treat the disease just like any other," says just Gondwe, chairperson of the movement.
She says the movement, which was formed two weeks aço, wants to have many Aids patients as its members so that they benefit from Dream centres.
At Dream centres, she says, activists get free ARVs, food packages, psychological support and in some instances salaries especially for those recruited by St. Egidio.
Gondwe, who says she nearly died of the disease, has now reformed since she joined Dream project in 2006 after testing HIV positive in 2001 and losing her husband in 2004.
"We will encourage women to go for an HIV test. We want them to avoid becoming pregnant ignorantly so that we do not have many children with HIV. We want to build a nation with children free of HIV," she said.
Country director of St. Egidio Ellard Alumando welcomed the establishment of the movement which he said will also work like a union of people living with HIV and Aids.
"We are ready to receive criticism from them. We hope that the movement will help improve the lives of people living with HIV and Aids," he said.
Alumando said Dream works to ensure access to treatment, undertaking not only to welcome those who come to ask for care, and to give it freely, but also to seek out those patients who are deemed to be at risk of dropping out.
He said it was decided to train, in a serious and professional manner, not only strictly health personnel, but also many socio-health workers.
"The latter, once they have been put regularly into the programme, undertake more "mobile" functions, not only at the centre which is the base of the programme, but also in the surrounding area, home care, monitoring administration of daily treatment and nutritional counselling to mothers are all tasks they undertake," he said.