Blantyre, Malawi – Together for our rights
At the end of March, during the annual training course for the activists of the movement I DREAM, a day entitled “Together for our rights” was dedicated to discussions and training with the participation of representatives of several associations dealing with the civil rights of people living with HIV.
The debate, moderated by the Country Director of DREAM Elard Alumando, was opened by the National coordinator of the movement I DREAM, Pacem Munyenymbe, who traced briefly its origins dating back to 2007 when a group of patients, mostly women, decided to come together to combat stigma and discrimination and to be present among the population, carrying campaigns to raise awareness and civic consciousness.
The speakers have developed the theme of human rights from different points of view.
Vera Chirwa, the first woman lawyer in Southern Africa, spoke of the right to treatment for HIV-positive women. Her testimony was particularly touching. Vera has a long history of struggle for civil rights, in particular for the prisoners and against the death penalty (she has spent many years in the death row, persecuted for political reasons during the presidency of Kamuzu Banda).
Vera is recognized as one of the founders of independent Malawi and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Prize for peace.
Mabvuto Bamusi, National coordinator of the Advisory Committee for Human Rights, addressed the issue of the right to health care for all, especially for people living with AIDS, often victims of discrimination. His speech, entitled “I have a dream”, thrilled the audience when he said that everyone is entitled to treatment and that it is necessary to work together, with courage, so that antiretroviral drugs and care of good quality may also reach the remotest rural areas.
The last report was submitted by Esimie Tembeneu, Chief Judge of the Court for Juvenile Justice, a position he holds since its establishment in 2005. Esimie Tembeneu has submitted a detailed report about the rights of children, centering his speech on the articles of the law concerning children, which are often ignored or denied.
The participants, including about one hundred activists of I DREAM coming from all over the country for the annual training course, had the opportunity to better understand the meaning of their work and how it may be sustained both by the laws of the State and by spreading awareness about Universal Human Rights.
The meeting represented also an opportunity to present publicly the activities of the movement I DREAM and to forge contacts with many associations and delegates who participated in the event: MANERELA (The Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS); NAPHAM (The National Association for People Living with HIV and AIDS); NANES (National AIDS Network Services); the delegate of the Government Social Welfare Office, who coordinates the activities of the CBO (Community Based Organizations); the delegates of the traditional authorities, responsible for the offices for the care of children; the representatives of the Clinton Foundation and many others.
The activists of I DREAM presented their activities and pointed out that, in the spirit of the Community of Sant’Egidio, they offer free help to the weak and the poor, and are aware of the good received.
Today, the movement I DREAM is made of more than 1000 people of different faiths, denominations and traditions, who work together and love each other as a family.
The event was recorded by MBC, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, the leading National radio station, and was attended by a number of journalists.
The boundaries of the movement I DREAM expand, along with a greater awareness of ones’ rights. Along with new fellow travelers, the dream of changing the society of Malawi grows, as well as that of making treatment and care accessible for as many AIDS patients as possible.