The DREAM movement in Malawi is increasing its initiatives to talk about AIDS, to defeat discrimination and to explain how it is possible to prevent the spreading of the virus and gain access to treatment.
In recent months the DREAM movement, whose fame has grown throughout the country thanks also to TV programmes and newspaper articles which talk of the work being carried out in the centres, has been officially invited to various secondary schools and other institutions to give presentations and hold conferences.
After the secondary school of Byanzi in the district of Dowa, not far from the centre of Mtenga wa Ntenga, the teacher training institute of Kasungu, capital of the homonymous district, which is about 130 km. north of Lilongwe has also asked representatives of the DREAM movement to hold a conference. Moreover, there will shortly be a meeting at the juvenile detention centre of Dowa where they have asked for help in carrying out prompt HIV testing on the young inmates.
The topic of discrimination emerged very strongly during the recent meeting at Kasungu. Young people are terrified that their condition will be discovered and so refuse to be tested. At times some teachers also consider it pointless for boys and girls who are seropositive to come to school because they think they have no future.
In this sense Grace’s story was particularly touching. She is a young activist in the DREAM movement who has recently finished secondary school and she is testimony to the fact that it is possible both to live well if you follow the treatment and to aspire to a bright future.
During her speech she underlined the importance of following the treatment but also spoke of how she had found not only medical treatment at the DREAM centre but friends who were taking care of her, an orphan from an early age, in a wider sense of the term, befriending her with affection and encouragement on a daily basis. Today Grace can live serenely and make plans for the future like all her peers.
The spreading of a message of hope, the battle against stigma and discrimination, the commitment to defeat prejudice, these are all important aspects of DREAM which is not limited to offering excellent treatment but contributes to the rebirth of many people, to a new cultural outlook and to a change in the mentality of the country.