At the end of July, a DREAM mission went to Masanga (Mara region) in the far north of Tanzania, on the border with Kenya and Lake Victoria.
The aim was to respond to a request by the Daughters of Charity who live and work in this village, to see if there were any possibilities of collaboration between the local dispensary and the DREAM centre operational in Arusha (location: Usa River).
The Daughters of Charity would like to develop the activities of their modest hospital, building a new maternity department and launching, in Masanga too, both antiretroviral drugs as well as mother-to-child prevention of transmission of the HIV virus, as per DREAM protocols.
The Vincentians have been in Masanga for just a year, since they responded to the appeal of the Bishop of Musoma to set up a mission in this remote area; however their commitment has already changed the face of this out-of-the-way village. There is a school, a professional training centre, the small hospital: all are offering hope and concrete relief to a poor and isolated population, which often laments its neglect at the hands of institutions.
Masanga can be reached from Arusha only be crossing the enormous stretch of natural parks which includes the Ngorongoro crater and the immense Serengeti plain.
Mara region is very poor and practically cut off from the rest of the country, precisely due to the considerable difficulties involved in crossing the sprawling park territory (due to the lack of gas stations, a vehicle wanting to go from Arusha to Lake Victoria, or vice-versa, would need to take several petrol tanks along).
Reaching the district which Masanga forms part of, one is struck by the beauty of the land, green, sweet, with hills, but also by the poverty, the isolation, the primitive living conditions of many of the residents. Small mud huts with straw roofs are the exception rather than the rule.
What’s more, Masanga is not connected to the power supply network (the mission uses solar energy); there is no water (all that is available is rainwater); and it is often difficult to connect to the mobile phone network.
The work undertaken by the Daughters of Charity has started to change people’s lives for the better. The mini-hospital they run may be small, but it is functioning very efficiently, with a rotation system that covers the entire week, allowing the structure to remain open all the time. There is a small ambulance too, to ferry the most seriously ill patients to Tarime, the closest state hospital (an hour away by car).
The Vincentians of Masanga, especially Sr Jacqueline, have been well acquainted with DREAM for some time, since they form part of a congregation that already works with the Community of Sant’Egidio in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Nigeria.
From here springs the hope of establishing a connection with DREAM in northern Tanzania too, in the framework of an existing agreement between the Daughters of Charity and Sant’Egidio. The small hospital of Masanga could become a satellite centre of the DREAM centre of Arusha, using the laboratory for all diagnostics related to the treatment of AIDS.
This request from Masanga could pave the way for a larger presence of DREAM in the country. At the same time, it is the sign of needs that call for a further response, of isolation that must yet be defeated. And the work of DREAM can cure and heal, and it can reach the most remote areas.
This is true not only of the north of Tanzania. The imminent opening of a new DREAM centre in Iringa, scheduled for autumn, will expand to the centre-south of the country the radius of operations of this dream, which aims to defeat AIDS.
In Arusha, in Iringa, in Masanga and elsewhere, DREAM wants to develop its presence in Tanzania, to make ever more of a positive impact of the life of the Tanzanian people, to build, together with them, a more human, closer, more united world.