John Coventry is blogging from Mozambique
If the visit to DREAM is what can happen if its done right, the next trip we make to the Indimluka association, about 30 minutes outside Maputo hammered home the reality for millions of poor people living with HIV & AIDS.
Buried within a myriad of tiny ramshackle homes sits a concrete 'office' where some of the poorest people in Mozambique come for counselling, lifts to the hospital and equipment for school. The problem is they don’t really have any. Where the DREAM centre had benefited from investment and technological expertise, Indimluka strives to deliver support without resources.
I met Emerald and her grandmother who has brought her up since both her parents died from AIDS. I ask her what life would be like without the centre. "It would be very bad" she says. Suddenly it dawns on me just how much of a stupid question I've just asked.
I've never been to Africa before. This afternoon's visit shocked me, and I ask Nick, ActionAid’s HIV policy officer – and a thankfully experienced travelling companion - whether this is a particularly harsh visit. "Not really mate" comes the deadpan reply.
This is grinding poverty of the worst kind, something I’ve not witnessed before. I meet Cosse whose parents died when he was four months old – he’s now two. It’s unbelievable the kid can still raise a smile, and his ageing grandmother finds it hilarious that I’m called John - the same as her long dead father.
I speak to them for ten minutes or so; take their picture and move on, thanking them in English, which is obviously, no good at all. "You need to learn to say Kalibamba – it means thank you" says Fernanda, ActionAid Mozambique's HIV team leader. I agree – but get it wrong the next four times I try it, to everyone’s amusement.
Oacham, the director of Indimluka says they're trying, with ActionAid's help, to start a farming co-operative to raise cash for anti-retroviral drugs. The project will be up and running in a few months time. If it works, it will be an amazing achievement.