This was what Pope Francis told those who serve the DREAM Center in Zimpeto, outside Maputo, Mozambique, on Friday, the final day of his visit to the country, during his 31st Apostolic Trip to the African nations of Mozambique, Madagascar and the island of Mauritius, Sept. 4-10, 2019.
Launched by the Community of Sant’Egidio in 2002, the DREAM Center, stands for “Disease Relief through Excellent and Advanced Means” and is for people with HIV-AIDS.
At the end of his visit, the Holy Father received the gift of a crosier in the shape of a cross, made with metal and straw from the houses destroyed by cyclone Idai, which struck the region of Beira last March.
The Holy Father arrived more than a half hour early for this appointment at the Center
Upon his arrival was welcomed by Andrehea Riccardi, the Founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, and by the DREAM Center’s coordinator, Cacilda Massango.
Free medicine and care
In her greeting, she expressed joy for the Pope’s visit, in a place where “medicines, care, food but especially dignity and friendship are given for free.”
“Here in Zimpeto,” she shared, “many sick women regain their strength, put themselves at the service of other patients, accompanying them with their care. I myself was one of the first patients found by “Dream.” I have chosen to restore what I have received. I was a young suffering woman, distanced from all and judged by all. With “Dream” I found a new family that, beyond care, gave me dignity and a future for my children. Like me, thousands of Mozambicans are reborn.”
Pope Francis noted that upon seeing the competence, professionalism and love with which they receive and care for so many suffering people, particularly patients with HIV-AIDS, and especially mothers and children, made him think of the parable of the Good Shepherd.
All those who come to the center with despair and anguish, Francis noted, are like the man lying on the side of the road.
Never say ‘it’s impossible’
“This Center,” the Pope stressed, “shows us that there are always people ready to stop and show compassion, who do not yield to the temptation to say ‘There is nothing to be done’ or ‘It’s impossible to fight this scourge.’”
The Holy Father praised their determination to find solutions.
“You will be repaid by the Lord ‘when he returns,’” Francis stressed to them, noting: “this should fill you with joy.”
“As we leave this place, as you return to your daily tasks, where no one praises or applauds you,” he encouraged, “keep receiving those who come to you, go out and look for the wounded and helpless in the peripheries… Let us not forget that their names are written in heaven with the inscription: “These are the blessed of my Father”.
Pope Francis concluded, saying: “Renew your efforts to ensure that this center will always be a place that gives birth to hope.”
“May God bless you, dear patients and family members, and all those who assist you with such great love and who encourage you to persevere,” he prayed.