Guinea is a country with a Muslim majority but Christmas is a holiday celebrated by all.
Ebola is weighing heavily on the country, with its cargo of dead, orphans, the closure of all schools and universities. And fear is the most common feeling even if people try to continue to live normally, going to the market, attending mosques and churches.
At the DREAM center of the Community of Sant’Egidio the screening goes on, identifying at the entrance feverish people who are received by a doctor in a special room where, with the necessary precautions, it is possible to try to understand the many possible reasons for the high temperature or symptoms indicative of a possible infection. In many cases it is malaria or fever due to easily treatable causes: this avoids spreading fear and allows treatment. These precautionary measures, such as the protection material provided to the staff and the immense work of awareness, information and health education, are avoiding the impact of Ebola on AIDS patients in the DREAM centers.
On this month of December, dedicated to the struggle against AIDS, a few days ago a prayer was celebrated, to all those who – due to the disease – have lost their lives this past year. Their names were remembered, together with all those perished in the country due to Ebola, in particular friends and brothers of the region of Guinée Forestière.
Only one Ebola case was registered amongst DREAM’s 3300 patients: a young woman who had been infected by a neighbor. The DREAM activists continue to follow her two little daughters and husband, who have not been infected and are under the care of the DREAM program. The prayer, the friendship between the activists and the patients, the faith in the treatment that they have been receiving in the last years and the defeat of the past experiences of stigma and exclusion by many of the patients, guarantee continuous adherence to treatment and total trust in the DREAM program and, it is a trust that saves lives.
In this difficult environment for the country, the Community of “Je DREAM” * did not want to stop the service given to the children at the orphanage that houses about 30 kids in the suburbs, some of whom treated by DREAM, as well as to the inmates of the prison of Coyah. This is possible by paying attention in taking precautions before entering the orphanage or the prison. So, and despite everything, nobody wants to miss Christmas or the preparation of the lunch for the children of the DREAM centers of Conakry and Fassia and, for the first time this year, also the preparation of a Christmas lunch for the inmates (about 90) of the Prison Coyah.
In other areas of the city, the local Community of Sant’Egidio may offer food to beggars, elderly and to another large prison of the town.
The possibility of using the DREAM centers for lunch is a great help because it will allow to welcome children and some of the poorest adults, monitoring the temperature at the entrance, complying with the hand washing with chlorinated water and preparing – in case of need – kits of takeaway lunches and gifts for those who can not attend lunch.
* Je DREAM ( I DREAM) – A movement created in the DREAM centers by patients who are committed in serving the weakest, as within the spirit of the Community of Sant’Egidio.