|On 6 September, the XI Pan-African formation course of the DREAM programme for health workers (doctors, nurses, biologists, laboratory technicians and activists) working in the field of HIV and AIDS, was inaugurated.
More than 200 people from Mozambique and another 12 countries – Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Cameroon, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Vietnam –are taking part.
|objective of the course is to form local personnel and to go into the DREAM model for the treatment of AIDS in more depth. The workshop was opened by the Archbishop of Maputo, Francisco Chimoio, who invited participants to think about their work as a mission, that of “giving hope to sick people”. He said: “Yours is a work for life and must be undertaken with passion. It is not enough to be competent professionals. Your mission is to work with passion, passion for sick people. A sick person is a man, a woman, with dignity. He or she may lose strength, suffer and be covered with sores, but always remains a person.”|
|Dr Saide Mousinho, national Director of Health, on behalf of the Health Minister of Mozambique, greeted participants and address women of the Mulheres para o DREAM movement, saying: “The country needs courageous women like these; it needs heroes to give hope to the country.” One such woman, Ivonne Nanposse, bore witness through her personal experience, of how one can return to living life to the full, even if infected: the hope of a future and working for others, especially for children and their mothers, give newfound dignity.|
|In the name of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Dr Gianni Guidotti recalled the long story of friendship that links Sant’Egidio to Mozambique, a friendship that is a “bridge which unites Africa and Europe, wiping out the distance between, seeking to fill the abyss of injustice that separates the life and destiny of many sick African people from those of inhabitants of the northern hemisphere.”
The ceremony launched the course, the technical part of which continued until 14 September. The practical part of the course, which consists of internships for the various professional profiles, will come to a close at the end of the month.
|On 1 March 2007, the tenth Pan-African DREAM course was launched in Blantyre, Malawi. This is the second such course to be held in the country. The Health Minister Marjorie Ngaunje was present as well as the archbishop of Blantyre, Mgr Ziyaye, the director of the HIV and nutrition department, the president of Blantyre District, the rector of the College of Medicine and many other representatives of the health and civil authorities.|
|The opening saw the participation of around 200 people including the 120 course participants who came from several African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Lesotho, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique and Nigeria) and many invited Malawians, including guests from the local health authorities (districts, health centres and the central hospital). DREAM is fast becoming one of most significant cultural agencies about AIDS in the country.|
|Among those who addressed the opening ceremony was Passemu, a campaigner from Mtengo wa Ntenga centre (Lilongwe – Malawi). He testified how a dream, that of the DREAM programme, can become reality in the concreteness of so many sick and stigmatized people who have rediscovered the full meaning of their life thanks to treatment.|
|The health minister also dwelt upon the human factor of treatment and the importance of restoring confidence and strength to many sick people. This is a feature of DREAM that is realized through three health centres and two laboratories, which were set up in just over one year. She drew attention to the participative aspect of treatment that actively involves sick people and the different partnerships and structures operating throughout the country.|
|Significantly, around 50 “campaigners” coming from Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique, apart from Malawi itself, are taking part in the course. Their role in the centres is becoming ever more important as they act as mediators between patients and structures and treatment offered.|
On 1 March, the X DREAM Pan-African formation course started in Blantyre. It is a new course for English-speaking participants. Its objective is to meet needs arising from prospects of expansion planned in some Anglophone countries in recent months. The aim is also to continue responding to the demand for formation about AIDS posed by the world of African health care.
Around 100 participants are attending the course, coming from all the Anglophone countries where DREAM is present (Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria), as well as Lesotho. Religious sisters from Kenya are there in large numbers, making for a significant presence. In fact, many congregations have shown considerable interest in the possibility of applying the diagnostic-therapeutic protocols of DREAM to their respective health centres, which are situated in the huge slums that make up the suburbs of Nairobi.
A practice applied in the latest Pan-African courses has been to hold a course specifically for campaigners at the same time as that for doctors, nurses, coordinators and so on, is taking place.
However there is a novelty this year: the 35 campaigners taking part come from four African countries (Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria) and they will be addressed by DREAM lecturers with the help of Mozambican campaigners. Thus, this will be the first Pan-African formation course for campaigners, which means that this course is also opening up to take on a wider, continental dimension.
We feel it is helpful to turn back to the IX DREAM pan-African formation course held in Maputo last October, to become more aware of the spirit in which participants tackled the theoretical and practical presentation of our programme. Not only did they show considerable interest in the professional nature of the lectures delivered, they also displayed a profound understanding of unique elements of the outlook towards patients that is found in all DREAM centres in Africa.
At any rate, our formation courses have definitely become nothing less than renowned places for the transmission of knowledge about AIDS and its treatment in an African context. However, the courses are also a sort of forum where the belief in the centrality of the person, the patient, is widely shared: this is basically the most innovative and humanizing characteristic of the programme, the spirit of DREAM, expressed in a consistently scientific approach to the disease.
From such a perspective, the module for centre coordinators (one of three work modules that our formation course is usually sub-divided into) is a privileged place that highlights these unique features of DREAM especially clearly. This is largely because the coordinator of a DREAM centre personally sees to the registration of sick people and hence establishes an initial relationship of understanding and trust with them.
In Maputo, during the final session of the module, some confessed that at first they had approached the course just “as a doctor: my aim was that of receiving purely technical formation”. And yet, “I discovered much more!” In effect, there was the air of having made a discovery, the discovery that it is possible to have “a different vision. Thank you for teaching us how a sick person feels and how to be close to him or her in a professional manner that is human and full of hope,” said another participant.
Many participants talked about the surprise they felt – in a way – when faced with an approach that could be considered as original, described as “personalized treatment, that is, a strong will to give attention to each and every person from a medical as well as a human point of view. In some ways, I would never have thought that such attention could possibly be experienced in a health centre.” But this surprise made a positive impact, bringing encouragement and hope. The conclusion drawn was that this was no longer a solely methodological problem but one involving the spirit too. Those who come for therapy are regarded differently, with a new spirit of considerable attention for the sick person and his or her needs. The bottom line is: “Nothing is impossible and concrete difficulties (which are many) do not signify defeat.”
For many, looking at sick people with new eyes has thus become an opportunity to better understand of the reality in which they work, an understanding that is not a foregone conclusion, even among those who have been working in Africa for a long time: “For me, participating in this course was like a victory. There were so many things I had not fully understood. I had not fully understood the massive tragedy that AIDS presents for our countries, I had not grasped how
Right after the IX DREAM formation course from 23 to 27 October, the V DREAM course for campaigners and basic health educators was held in Maputo, also at the Kaya Kwanga Congress Centre. It is the fourth such course to be held in Mozambique.
The course – its attested validity has been recognised for the first time by the Mozambican Health Ministry – targeted not only campaigners and basic health educators of the DREAM programme at work in different centres of the country, but also a group of scouts helping out in the Matola nutritional centre, as well as activists from other associations, governmental and otherwise. Some officials from the Mozambican foreign affairs ministry (the ministry is getting together a reference group on HIV and asked DREAM to support its formation) also attended.
In fact, in Mozambique, there is a growing thirst for knowledge and formation about problems related to the spread of AIDS, and about health education in general, and there are only a handful of entities like DREAM capable of responding to this demand.
The course, which focused especially on basic knowledge about HIV infection and human nutrition, unfolded in a climate of enthusiastic participation and hope, as participants’ comments revealed: “We thank DREAM for coming to save the lives of Mozambicans”; “What I learnt here will help me to help those are not here and who do not believe that HIV is a reality… a reality that is decimating us”; “I thank DREAM because I am HIV-positive and I used to be ashamed, but now I am leaving this course with the awareness that I am not condemned and that I can help others.”
We publish the thanksgiving speech delivered by a doctor who participated in the IX Formation Course of DREAM held in Maputo in October 2006.
Dr Jean Pierre works at the health centre of Kimbau (in Bandundu region, southern Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Angola), a centre that is about to start offering antiretroviral therapy in collaboration with the DREAM programme.
Most honourable Prof. Narciso, reverend sisters and dear brothers of the Community of Sant’Egidio, ladies and gentlemen, all collaborators of the DREAM project,
In my name and on behalf of all the participants of this workshop, allow me to show our gratitude and acknowledgement at the end of this period of theoretical formation about the diagnostic, therapeutic and nutritional approach to people affected by HIV, through different modules for doctors, laboratory technicians and coordinators.
Starting from 11 October, you did not spare any effort to take us to the heart of the realities linked to HIV infection. In these days, we have become especially aware of a new dimension of HIV that pervades our populations: the scourge of HIV is not a simple health problem; rather it poses a real development crisis for Black Africa.
But, on the other hand, the results of DREAM have shed doubt on mistaken views that antiretroviral therapy would not be applicable in Africa for reasons we prefer to keep quiet about. It is a challenge that the Community of Sant’Egidio launches to those in charge of programmes fighting for Africa.
We have discerned the presence of God throughout these days, this God who is Love, Truth and Justice: Love that is expressed through the quality and interests of the project; Truth that is revealed thanks to a therapeutic protocol based on verifiable scientific arguments; Justice that desires that all men, in north and south of the world, may benefit from the same attentions.
Before concluding our speech, we promise you that from now on, we will pursue the struggle in our respective countries, continuing to work according to your outlook.
We would like to thank the Community of Sant’Egidio once again for the DREAM programme. We ask the international community to support this just and resolute work with extensive backing in terms of medical equipment and essential drugs.
If you all contribute, we will all live.
On behalf of the participants,
Dr Jean-Pierre Basake Kalema