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April 8 2010

DREAM: Ten Thousand To Change The History of Africa

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Neither ten thousand words or ten thousand images could describe the joy and the satisfaction felt at the birth of Madalisto.

He is not just any baby, he is baby number 10,000 to be born in the DREAM program.

And we can also, with great joy, add the phrase which is often used “and the mother is doing fine”.

Ten thousand is not a number, it is a dream, a dream which is now the reality of a healthy life for ten thousand children.

It is a dream which has accompanied more than a million people in Africa over the past 8 years. Ten thousand children have been born into this dream that hopes to change the history of Africa: prevention from mother to child using antiviral treatments.

Madalitso was born in the hospital of Ntengowantenga, in Lilongwe. As soon as he was born his mother cried with joy. As she stared at him, her eyes full of gratitude, she knew her son had saved her life. Thanks to him, Doris discovered she was HIV positive and it will be thanks to him that she will receive treatment.

When she found out she was pregnant, Doris went to the health centre in Nzole. All the women in the area now know where to go and what to do. At the centre she received all the necessary check-ups. They also offered to test her for HIV. Nervously, Doris accepted, knowing that even in the worst case scenario, there was the possibility of treatment.

The result was dramatic but Doris knew that there was hope, she considered herself lucky because she lived close to the DREAM Centre. She also knew many women who had given birth to perfectly healthy babies despite being themselves HIV positive. That diagnosis was not a death sentence!

She was sent to the DREAM Centre by the health centre doctors and began the vertical prevention program: during her 25th week of treatment she began taking the antiviral drugs. She received regular blood tests and was advised by the DREAM activists on healthy eating and early child care.

The umbilical cord was cut, but the bond between Doris and her son Madalitso remains extremely strong. Doris says that this son is her salvation. This son has given her the will and the hope to live.

It was the same experience in 2002 for C, who delivered the first HIV negative child, through the DREAM program. During the seventh month of pregnancy, C started the antiviral therapy following the protocol of treatment already used to save children’s lives in many parts of the world. C was not aware of being one of the first women in Africa receiving this treatment from the Community of Sant’Egidio.

Do you remember what we wrote when Joazinho was born, baby number One Thousand in 2005?

Madalitso has another reason to enjoy life: his mother will live and be able to fully care for him. Her therapy went so well that during the period in which it was interrupted, her immune system remained strong.

Our emotions our high – Madalitso has given us all ten thousand doses of hope and energy to continue in our battle against AIDS and to change the history of Africa!


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