The DREAM center of Iringa has seen in these first months of 2011 a significant increase in the number of its patients.
Many people arrive each day to make the test or, if they already know that they are HIV positive, to ask to be treated.
Since January we have had about 100 new admissions per month and in a short time we have reached over 600 patients, many of them coming from villages far away.
In February a numerous group of students of a secondary school came to visit the center, asked many questions about the treatment of AIDS, the frequency of medical visits, about the symptoms and about the work of DREAM in Tanzania.
Amongst the young people the word has been spread about a place where, if HIV positive, people can be cured.
In Iringa there are three universities and many young people start to come to the DREAM center to make the test.
At the beginning of March there was a first meeting with the patients to tell the story of the Community of Sant’Egidio and how the vision of DREAM was born.
At the beginning of the meeting, attended by 30 people, mostly women, the faces were serious and a little worried then, little by little, the atmosphere melted and many told their stories and told about their encounter with DREAM.
Many words of thanks for what DREAM has done to their lives, but also the desire to tell others about it and help and convince others to come.
Many have spoken describing the stigma, their fear and that of many others to make the test, the abandonment by friends and relatives when they realize that they are sick.
Immaculate told of how the staff of the center was able to give her courage “here I found so much peace, people who smile at me and I always come back very willingly”.
Olivia said that after she had come for the first time, she spoke with members of her family and friends to convince them to come.
Richard has witnessed the life and strength found in DREAM, after so many years without being able to heal and with his body more and more weakened and suffering, he had reached the conviction that he was just waiting for death.
Bernadette, the first activist of “I DREAM” in Iringa, said “we need to talk more between us, know each other, be friends, visit others because by doing so we will have more courage and will manage to overcome fear”.
The desire to speak out and tell has grown in many during the meeting and also the desire to meet again soon and the commitment to invite others, to tell to as many people as possible, that there is a cure for their disease and that together they can defeat the stigma and the discrimination, which weighs on the lives of many.