A meeting, organised by activists from the Usa River Mimi DREAM movement, was held recently in Chemchem, one of the five rural “councils” that make up the district where the DREAM centre is situated.
The objectives of the meeting were to raise awareness of the DREAM programme, to combat the ignorance and prejudice that surround the ways in which AIDS is spread; to give hope and encouragement to those who are sick or suspected of being so by talking about the availability and effectiveness of free treatment; to make those who live in a somewhat isolated situation feel the closeness and willingness of the centre to help.
Many rather poor and isolated villages can be found to the north and south along the main road that connects Arusha and Moshi. They are generally cut off from essential services such as health and education etc.
The Tanzanian authorities are worried by the fact that opportunities for treatment available in the big city have not reached the rural areas where instead there is regrettably a sense of resignation, choices based on discrimination and a certain return to superstitious practices.
These are the same concerns that have motivated DREAM to programme a series of meetings in various villages in Usa River and the adjacent districts so that even the most remote villages can have access to a proposal for treatment.
The meeting in Chechem therefore is only the first in a series of village assemblies that the Movement would like to organise in the coming months. It took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality and attentiveness. After a brief presentation by the head of the village, Tina, a Tanzanian DREAM doctor, began to speak about the Community of Sant’Egidio’s programme, explaining its history and emphasising the quality of the service it offers, the attention it pays to the individual, the gratuitous nature of the treatment which is available to everyone and the project’s particular commitment in favour of pregnant women. After this, four activists intervened by telling their personal story of healing.
At the end of the meeting there was much applause and many expressions of gratitude. It was clear to the people who had come that this had been an encounter with hope, that meeting together is a force which can bridge the gap that exists between the opportunity for treatment and the shortcomings of the information which reaches the villages, compounded by the lack of education, the cost of transport, and often a very hard life.
Chemchem means ‘source’ or ‘fountain’ in Swahili. It is DREAM’s hope that this meeting can really be a source of hope and trust for many, starting with those who live in a small village which is not even on the map and finishing with those who have not been met yet but who likewise long to hear the good news; that a cure exists, that it is available, that it is possible.