Since June 2010 every day is a special day for the 800 children of the Machinjiri neighborhood in Blantyre since they can find a hot meal made of chicken, meat or eggs accompanied with rice, vegetables, beans and season fruit at the nutritional center Giovanni Paolo II, but mostly a meal “seasoned” by the love and friendship of the staff, mostly activists of the I DREAM association.
January 18 was a special day yet for another reason: the meeting with the wife of the President of the Republic of Malawi, Madame Callista Mutharika who, as she stated in her welcome speech, programmed the visit only two days before, to see this place with her own eyes, a place thought for children, a place she heard so well of.
There was a cheering crowd of hundreds of children waiting to greet her and express the joy and gratitude for having found, thanks to the Community of Sant’Egidio, a new home in their neighborhood which offers care and attention, where to enjoy excellent meals, play, sing and learn to live and grow together, as Sheila and Pilirani, two girls who attend the center since its opening, told the First Lady in their speeches.
Mrs. Callista visited the kitchens, warehouses, the office for the sponsorships, thanks to which it is possible to guarantee the needed support for the center, and the dining rooms, where she dwelt with the children to have them explain how the center operates.
At the end of the visit, in one of the rooms where the children eat every day, guests gathered for a brief farewell ceremony. After the testimony of the two girls, Paola Germano, on behalf of the Community of Sant’Egidio, thanked for the visit and explained the Community’s commitment towards the children of Africa and the world, which is expressed through the schools of peace, the nutritional centers, the prevention and treatment of infant AIDS and the BRAVO program for the civil registration.
The First Lady spoke last:
“It is the most beautiful nutritional center that I visited in Malawi” she said verbatim.
She thanked the staff and encouraged them to continue in their service and invited all those present to take a cue from the work of the Community of Sant’Egidio which, although it is not rich and comes from a country which today is facing a serious economic crisis, has taken seriously the teaching of the Gospel, stopping before the demands of the poor and sharing with those in need, without setting limits or boundaries. The spirit of Sant’Egidio, the choice of not thinking only of themselves or only of the poor of their own country, has allowed the creation of many concrete and effective works in Malawi, at the service of people, the sick and the poor. And she added: “It is the responsibility of all of us to take care of this center and to make it grow and it is important to increase the presence of the Community of Sant’Egidio in Malawi”.
Mrs. Callista has then stressed the value of the bond of friendship between the Community of Sant’Egidio and Malawi and has reminded of how the work of the DREAM centers for the treatment of AIDS is a response to the tragedy of so many sick people and the hope for the future of Malawi.
“DREAM is the best treatment for AIDS in the country”, she said.
In particular she took as example the work done by the DREAM center of Blantyre, which is characterized by its professionalism and excellence in the care provided to AIDS patients.
The First Lady has expressed the desire to visit again soon to increase the friendship and fruitful cooperation between Malawi and the Community of Sant’Egidio.