Over the weekend of 18th/19th of February 2023 a large group of Sisters and staff arrived in Maputo from several African countries: Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, Congo, Kenya and Mozambique. The staff was accommodated in a hotel in Maputo while the Sisters resided at the Provincial house of the Daughters of Charity in Matola. This necessitated many trips to the airport and the Sisters in Matola did a wonderful job of coordinate these trips.
The arrival of the Daughters of Charity and their staff: Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Laboratory scientists, IT personnel and Program Coordinators marked the beginning of a week-long DREAM course.
DREAM: Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition is an holistic health care program for people living with HIV/AIDS. It was conceived and set up by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay catholic community in Rome in the late 1990s. Sant’Egidio made a promise to bring the same high quality of care and treatment to the people in Africa living with HIV/ADS as was available in Europe and North America at the time. This was a very courageous promise and the Community of Sant’Egidio has delivered DREAM, a holistic program of excellence to 12 African Countries and to many DREAM centers in those countries.
In 2005 the Daughters of Charity entered into an agreement, signed by the President of Sant’Egidio and Sr. Evelyne Franc, Superioress General of the Daughters of Charity, to collaborate with the Community of Sant’Egidio to bring DREAM to countries where the Sisters live and work in Africa. This agreement was signed in Paris at their Motherhouse in 2005. Since then, the Sisters have opened 6 DREAM centers in 6 African countries, plus two centers in Mozambique, Chokwe and Chalucuane, that were already collaborating with Sant’Egidio.
The DREAM meeting in Maputo was intended to bring together Sisters and staff from each country to share experiences, to evaluate and to determine the new challenges that their programs face 20 years later. The DREAM program provides counseling and testing, care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus, molecular laboratories for viral load and CD4 testing, pharmacies, nutrition units, care and treatment of tuberculosis, psychosocial support and home care for those who need it. The DREAM Project has been enormously successful, particularly in preventing mother to child transmission of the virus. Any mother who comes to the centre early in her pregnancy and is compliant with the treatment is sure to have a healthy baby who is HIV negative. This is a tremendous relief and brings great joy to the mother and the whole family. It is also found that the majority of those children born negative, many of whom are now teenagers, tend to remain HIV negative through psychosocial counseling and the youth support groups that educate and support these young people who will be the parents of tomorrow.
Since the beginning, DREAM has also taken care of related illness: tuberculous, various infections, and in recent years, testing women for cervical cancer, counseling, support and referral for treatment. During the course presentations were given with regard to new challenges in the areas of cancer, malaria, hypertension, diabetes, and epilepsy.
Economic growth, even if slow, means general health improves. Lifestyles have improved and the face of extreme poverty, while still a great concern, has also changed. Maternal and infant mortality has been reduced. Mortality from HIV has greatly decreased. However, access to quality health care for people who are poor is still a great concern. New challenges are emerging and DREAM, during their meeting in Maputo, was more than willing and ready to meet those challenges.