“We must never stop fighting” – Aida Carlos Lemos

Aida Carlos Lemos tem 23 anos de idade mora na cidade de Quelimane. Ela é estudante do segund ano do curso médio de medicina preventive, e embaixadora DREAMS desde 2018.

Aida Carlos Lemos is 23 years old and lives in the city of Quelimane. She is a second year student of preventive medicine and has been a DREAMS Ambassador since 2018.
In her experience working with the community, several especially positive episodes stand out in her memory, especially of girls transformed thanks to the DREAMS program.
“In my community there was a girl who worked as a prostitute instead of going to school. But when she joined our club, she changed. I worked to create conditions in the group that would allow my girls not to have to depend on their partners financially. We created a savings group, and we were able to make money by sewing clothes, embroidery, and tablecloths, and the girls were selling them. For example, if they sold a piece for 150 meticais, they would share the profit and add it to their savings. That’s how this girl was able to stop working as a prostitute and return to school,” Aida says, thrilled.
Thanks to examples like these, Aida believes that DREAMS is contributing to a bright future for the girls in her community.
“I see a better future for the girls in my community. If the girls have an education, I think one day they may even surprise me. Some are in high school and some are running their own businesses. I just hope for a bright future for my girls,” she said.
Aida reveals that she herself has overcome challenges in her life, and she draws on her experiences to support other girls.
“I was once like one of the girls I work with. But a mentor and other girls managed to reach me and get me out of the dark path I was traveling. My mentor never left my side. I’ve always been with her and she’s always been very supportive. That’s why I support the other girls through my example,” she said.
Aida shares some encouraging words she tells girls to motivate them to master their destiny and stay free from HIV and gender-based violence: “Never be afraid of your problems. Always be sure to say no to abuse, with all the determination in the world. I believe we will succeed. We must never stop fighting for ourselves,” she tells them, adding “I hope the girls will be more determined and resilient.”
The Government of Mozambique implements the DREAMS program, which is focused on girls aged 9-24, with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief –PEPFAR. DREAMS employs a comprehensive, multi-sectoral package of interventions to address the structural factors that make girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV, including gender-based violence, lack of economic opportunities, and lack of access to school. DREAMS groups several interventions together to help protect girls and young women from HIV and other risks.
DREAMS Ambassadors are girls who demonstrate leadership and the determination and tenacity to overcome challenges. They are trained and given skills and tools to link their peers to services dedicated to them, maximizing the impact of the DREAMS program. Ambassadors also lead advocacy initiatives at all levels.