The last 4th of February the opening ceremony of the DREAM centre of Mbandaka has been held. In the presence of the Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo, of the governor at interim of the district of Equateur – of which Mbandaka is the capital -, of the bishop, of the mayor of the town, as well as the Italian and of the Order of Malta ambassadors.
There were also the delegates for Africa of the general council of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity and a delegation of Sant’ Egidio, besides a good representation of the congolese medical world that struggles against AIDS, to various believers and many people.
A large participation for a big event. To point out that also in the heart of the congolese forest it is possible to do something of important to help the AIDS sufferers and all the population.
The speeches of the opening ceremony have all emphasized the extraordinary event.
The mood was of joyful gratitude and a special thanks was explicitly addressed to DREAM, to the Community of Sant’ Egidio, to the Daughters of Charity, to the Italian Cooperation, to the Assicurazioni Generali, to the "Children of the Danube" Association, to everyone, that is, that hoped and worked for this challenge to become true.
The laboratory of the Mbandaka center, as the same national organizers say, is better than the reference one of Kinshasa. Everyone has underlined the role that it will be able to carry out to serve all the region. Something permanent, lasting, free. Something that looks at the future in a country that is affected of many, continuous upsets and of some stepping out of the solidarity agencies.
The first DREAM patients were also present at the ceremony, and also those that, tested for HIV in the previous days, resulted negative. They anyhow felt part of the movement of trust that is developing around the center.
DREAM, in fact, has opened its doors to the public already some days before the official opening. The first group of patients – coming from a close sustained health center from the Daughters of the Charity where it was years that it wasn’t possible to carry out the examination for absence of the test – arrived in the late morning. 20 pregnant women, a little frightened, accompanied by a midwife.
The welcome has been immediately warm. Sr. Adrienne, a nurse, and Sr. Friderica, the coordinator, had explained the women what DREAM is and why they didn’t have to fear the test. "We are and will always be here to help you", they said, "to give you the medicines, to do the examinations, the tests, everything, and free of charge" (here in fact, like in the majority of Africa, health costs, and also the prenatal cares have a cost).
Leaving the center, the first patients, enthusiastic, invited all the pregnant women they met on the streets to go to DREAM. At the center therefore a short cue of women has formed, among which some very young, which didn’t have money to enter any prenatal center. Obviously they have all been welcomed … and the good news of that morning was that no women resulted positive.
An encouraging signal. But encouragement, hope and joy will also concern all those who will result positive. The good news of the days following the opening will be that who is sick will be able to to be treated, that the children of the hiv-positive women will be able to be born healthy. A turning point in a town of 700,000 residents like Mbandaka, where the predominance of the illness is estimated around 5%.