The Mbandaka DREAM centre is growing rapidly. With almost a thousand people tested and more than a hundred undergoing treatment the good news is spreading among the inhabitants of this town set in the Equatorial forest that they have not been forgotten and a visit to the centre by President Kabila’s twin sister bears witness to this.
Jeanette Kabila is President of the Mzee Laurent Desiré Kabila Foundation, a humanitarian organisation which also treats children with AIDS.
Jeanette, who is one of the President’s most influential advisors, was most impressed by the quality of the molecular biology lab and by the excellent standard of treatment given to the patients about 15 of whom are babies. One of these is Moise who is about one year old but weighs as little as a baby of a few months. He clings to life and surveys the world with his big, lively, curious eyes.
The therapy has given him new vitality and he is beginning to accept nourishment.
The centre has recently seen the birth of the first baby to be born under the vertical prevention programme, (the treatment given to the mothers during pregnancy). The mother’s joy at giving birth to a completely healthy baby, despite her own illness, was one of the most beautiful signals of hope that the centre has experienced.
These are the signals that speak to people like those of Mbandaka who do not talk about or listen to much on the subject of AIDS, fearing it as an illness without hope of a cure.
The presence of DREAM and of treatment which is totally free in a country where you have to pay for everything reopens the possibility of freedom from an affliction which until now has gone unnoticed and gives people hope that history and their destiny can be changed.