God, AIDS, Africa and HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

Cable theft…

It’s the fourth time in a row that thieves have stolen the cable providing electricity to HOPE Cape Town’s container in Blikkiesdorp. Even burying the cable under the soil did not help – Eskom’s efforts to support the community in Blikkiesdorp by providing electricity to the containers have failed again. This in itself is bad news as the uplifting of the community, the computer training, the cooking courses: they all depend on electricity and stealing the cables again and again does harm to those in need.
What is even more regrettable is that those harmed in this way know exactly who are the culpable but out of fear they will never reveal the names or give it to the police.
And with this we are at one of the devil’s circles of South African township societies – it takes long time and lots of courage to break free from all those thugs and criminals terrorizing those vulnerable  and in need of assistance. It is amazing how patient people are in suffering the consequences of crime and violence, up to a breaking point, where they take the law into their own hands and start killing those they want to get rid off. Dead people don’t do revenge!

Blikkiesdorp is not there yet – the stealing of cable and the continues sabotage of the assistance to their disadvantaged lives seems not to trigger such violent reaction yet – and it is understandable: There is no sense for community and belonging in this part of Delft where more than 38 nations are crowded together – some for a longer period of time, others since Sepp Blatter didn’t want to see certain individuals roaming the streets of Cape Town during the Soccer World Cup.

Blikkiesdorp is or should be semi-permanent – all containers and structures should be disappearing – and with it crime and violence in this area – but it seems that the City of Cape Town has other plans – a small park with a braai area for barbecue is now built next to it – a meeting point where people – who hardly can make a living –  should come together and grill their meat in the open. Maybe it works, but maybe there are also chances that this “public park” will be an ideal place for gangs to meet up and do their business at night. The park signals permanence in many ways – and maybe some more hope is again dying that life will become better within life’s time.

Blikkiesdorp is a sore in the eye of everybody who thinks that decent human living should be applied to everybody. It’s a sore in the eye of those who acknowledge what it means to be able to live as a decent human being. But Blikkiesdorp remains a reality and there are so many other “Blikkies” in South Africa that one could lose hope. But HOPE Cape Town remains steadfast in their approach to better the lives of those living there. And even those pulling the cables out at night will not stop this fine organization to deliver as much service as possible to those in dire need for it.

 

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

USA and the complexity of the world

11 days of traveling in the USA coming to an end.  Since 2 years HOPE Cape Town tries with the help of friends to establish itself as a fundraising NGO in the States. Finally this time things are coming together and it seems a way is found to start in earnest with our efforts to raise funds for the work in the Western Cape. Having an offical representative in New Jersey voted onto the advisory board of the HOPE Cape Town Trust helps a lot. The USA is not South Africa – laws and requirements are different and since 9/11 the trauma of the US nation dictates a lot of scrutiny channeling money from one of the 50 states to Africa or any other part of the world.

It is worth noting that the Catholic Church also plays a big role in this, assisting in setting up and bridging the time until the process is finalised and HOPE Cape Town Trust (USA) will be established in the first of the states. It was great to see how an entity like my church can be of help with its structures and abilities and so speeding up the process of helping others in need. There is still a long way to go but what are 2 or 3 years more compared to eternity :-).

In the time I have visited the killing of an 18-year-old black youngster through a white police officers were not only constant headlines but also led to unrest in St. Louis (Mo). The little suburb of Ferguson brought again onto the light the problem of race and justice. As somebody living in South Africa, where race is often still determining how a person sees himself, it was somehow eye-opening to understand that the question of injustice does not stop at a certain nation. It seems to me that the perceived inferiority of Afro-American or the perceived superiority of white people is a worldwide problem manifesting itself quite harshly in the “great nation on earth”. It is a clear expression and outcome of a cruel world order, especially when it comes to economic justice or the power balance in our world. And having visited the National Museum for Indian History in Washington, I have learned anew what I already have somehow know before: How much also my church has contributed to eliminate old ancient tradition and forced people to take over the white European lifestyle. While Christianity absorbed so much from the European (Greek and Roman) habits and tradition and converted its meanings, it failed to do the same often on American or African soil. This is indeed a problem we have until today and whoever is observing the reactions on Pope Francis from the neo-conservative side will pick up that his “latin-american” style is seen as a treat to European structured theology and hierarchy.

I am always thrilled to see and learn how inter-connected the world, it’s past, present and future, is and how important it is to learn from the past to understand the present time. It is indeed also the only way to prevent from injustice happening again even if it seems that humanity does not learn and has to go through all the trials and errors again and again.

What has survived through history is for most people the compassion and will to better the world – and that brings me back to the beginning and the fundraising efforts which would not be possible without this life line of hope. And it is indeed the only hope we have, that despite all the failures, of the systematic injustices there have been always people and there will be always people who care about their brothers and sisters near and far away.

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sometimes I have to pinch myself…

Driving from Somerville in New Jersey to Washington DC for a meeting I suddenly have to pinch myself and to tell me: “Yes, it’s me driving here on US American soil to meetings in NY, NJ and DC.”. coming from a small little town in the South West of Germany I never thought that my life will turn into being a wanderer between worlds, a person trying to bridge worlds way apart. That this would bring me around the world, having the chance to meet people from all walks of life and background.
It is a blessing and looking back I wonder how it all came together. Living abroad would have been no option for me in the earlier days – living in Africa not really on my mind. Becoming next to a priest an activist was also not really on the plan for the future and still – until this day all this makes sense to me in way I don’t understand. Contradiction? Yes, maybe, well, I want to say that I have no clue where it will end and why all this has become my life, but deep inside me there is the certain conviction and feeling that all does make sense and will reveal itself at a certain point in time. And knowing all my week sides I seldom admit, I have to say that the apostle Paul is completely right in saying that God has chosen the weak for his work. And it is nice to know that he has to deal with it – not only me or anybody else in that position.

Sitting now after a 5 hour drive two blocks away from the White House I will meet representatives of a Catholic NGO who are more into life issues, but they are willing to talk and even partner with HOPE Cape Town and me for the greater good of the people concerned. It is for me great to see that labels of “conservative” and “progressive” simply not stick and don’t have a meaning when it comes to support “the next, the neighbour, the one suffering, the one having no chance because born in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Especially in these times of religion often seen as a divide it is exactly the right time to show that the opposite is not only possible but feasible and practical. So I am very excited to see what the next two days will bring to me.

And then back to the people representing already officially HOPE Cape Town in New Jersey. Again, it is wonderful to see how somebody who has headed the social services of  a county and surely he would deserve a relaxed retirement is willing to dedicate time and energy that fellow South Africans can have hope and a future. It is indeed a long way to connect the dots, the people and the cause, but it is worth every mile along the way. HOPE Cape Town and the USA – a new chapter of fundraising is beginning to emerge and it will add more goodwill and good people to those already working hard to support HOPE Cape Town. It is great to know that HOPE Cape Town is more than the 36 employees, but a network of fine people around the world.

 

Filed under: Catholic Church, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Violence till murder…

HOPE Cape Town mourns murdered young patient
HOPE Cape Town has joined all South Africans in condemning the senseless murder of a 13-year-old boy in the Western Cape community of Wesbank at the weekend.
The boy, who had been in the care of HOPE Cape Town for many years, was caught in gang related crossfire and died from a bullet wound to the head.
According to spokesperson for the organisation, Mr Fahim Docrat, “We are outraged by this act of violence and are personally affected especially because of the relationship we had with this young man. We have supported him and his family for many years now and were very pleased with his progress and the bright future he had. It is unacceptable that our children are exposed to such violence on a daily basis and is an indictment on our society raising serious concerns. The levels of crime in such communities and the underlying socio-economic factors need to be addressed as a matter of urgency and we call on government for support and intervention and communities to take a stand against crime. This further highlights the dangers our 24 HOPE Community Health Workers face on a daily basis when working in such communities.”
HOPE Cape Town is supporting the family by assisting with funeral arrangements for this weekend.

It was a shocking news last Monday morning that one of our patients died in the cross fire of gang related violence. But it also makes very clear in which environment we are working in. Especially thinking of some of our volunteers who know shootings only from TV and can somehow not realize that people here not stand up again after being shot. Violence is in general quite a problem. Home visits by our staff can often not be made because of the danger for the life and well-being of our employees. Afterschool Care in Manenberg might be interrupted because gang violence prevents kids from even coming to the church grounds.
Violence is not only a topic related to gangs – violence is also part and parcel of almost every toi-toi or demonstration taking place in the country. People being involved in such action tend to forget their medication take in times or even the appointments with clinics and doctors as they fight for better sanitation or more money or whatever is the case. So violence has many faces, but all of them are stumbling blocks for better care, prevention and treatment. Paired with drugs and alcohol the situation only can get worse or ends up in such a violent fight which kills also innocent bystanders like this boy in Wesbank.

Let’s hope that the culprits will be found and brought to justice, but as much as I know the justice system it would be a miracle if that happens in due time and anyhow, it does not bring back the youngster who had a full life in front of him.

 

 

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reflection on a conference Down Under

Sitting at Melbourne airport waiting for my long trip back to South Africa it’s time to reflect on this years World AIDS Conference . I remember being in a somber and rather annoying mood entering the plane to Australia. The downing of MH17 over the Ukraine produced not only an unease feeling about flying, but also a sense of real anger that downright stupid politics could translate in killing innocent people high up in the sky. Somber and serious was also the mood at the opening ceremony when a minute of silence was observed before in a rather helpless move the usual declaration followed: “They would have wanted us to go ahead.” Bright heads were lost and honestly we can’t effort to lose one in the battle against HIV and AIDS.

The topics discussed of the conference were as diverse as the visitors. From the scientific portfolio the discovery of how to “kick and kill” the virus presented from the University of Aarhus in Denmark got lots of publicity. Another step in the effort for a functional cure lots of scientists and activists are dreaming of.
Human rights and HIV was another returning topic. As it is now common knowledge, there are three groups driving the infection worldwide: MSM – men who have sex with men, Escorts and prostitutes and IDU – injecting drug users.
IDU’s and Sex for money are in most countries matters of police and justice, driving those involved rather in the dark corner of society. That makes it very difficult to approach those affected and bring prevention, care and protection into those circles.Homosexuality is specially in Africa in the moment a hot topic – US American Evangelists telling Africans how to be an African achieved quite a lot of damage in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya putting all efforts to hold the epidemic in jeopardy. Unfortunately the churches in these countries played their part to drive the pandemic back in the underground where it will continue to thrive and come up with new infections.

2020 is now the buzz word for an AIDS free generation, but as it became clear on the conference, we might miss the aim because of money constrains. Too many people worldwide are still without treatment or even don’t know their status. Too many in power think that the problem is solved at least for their country and don’t really give a damn about the rest of the world.  We have achieved so much in the last years and it would be more than a pity if we would let go again and give the virus a second chance.

The Global Village was smaller than in Washington but not less interesting to see what others had to showcase . It was a pleasure to mingle and meet people from all over the world and knowing that we all try in our ways to end the pandemic.
The Exhibition Hall was populated by all the pharmaceutical companies and those producing equipment of all kind. Here the same picture emerged which always irritates me: some African representatives coming with their big shopping bags and taking away what they can on pens, note blogs and other gifts. I was standing next to the Imperial booth where one representative reprimanded a fellow delegate that she has already been here yesterday to take all pens she could get a hand on. To no avail: as soon as she turned around the delegate took another load before disappearing into the next booth. I can’t but feel embarrassed by this attitude.

Religion and Aids was also a topic now and then. There was a Catholic pre-conference which seems to happen every two years but rather an insider affair with selected participants. At the main conference I attended one on podium on religion and AIDS and I was honestly not impressed about the Catholic representative from India, quoting mainly all what is forbidden to do according to the Catholic catechism. The amount of people leaving the room while he was speaking spoke for itself. A missed opportunity as the Catholic church has a social teaching which contributes so much in this field and a moral theology which should be opened up to development.  I met with a Catholic activist from the Philippines who interestingly was also part of the pre-conference, himself sponsored by a Australian outreach church. Mentioning the strict role of the dominant Catholic church in his home country he also mentioned that at the pre-conference it had to turn down his rhetoric as in his country one does not speak out to direct when “Fathers” are present.

When I look back now on the entire conference then it seems that AIDS is really taking a backseat more and more. The conference was well organised but without real highlights – yes there was Bill Clinton and as always he drew big crowds and at the final plenum one had to endure Bob Geldorf and his platitudes. Like always it was the input of hard-working scientists and activists which triggered my interest. It’s their hard work which moves the fight against HIV and AIDS forward. The global figures show that simply spoken the danger isn’t over yet and there are still too many new infections and too many deaths to count every year. Stigma, ignorance and discrimination are still prevalent and show their ugly faces every day for thousands of people infected and affected.

The World Aids Conference is coming back to one of the hotspots in 2016 – Durban / South Africa. It is meant to close the gap and to win the battle. That means hard work for the next two years and overcoming the challenges and obstacles lying ahead. We from HOPE Cape Town will surely be part of it and as the conference will be in South Africa, there will be surely be more representation possible than sending one lonely man to down-under :-)
But for him like for most such a conference is always an energizer moment realising one is not alone. Thousands world wide are lenting their knowledge and skills, their helping hand to end the pandemic and to give back dignity to all those affected and infected. Conferences like this are necessary to learn, to embrace new ideas, to see, touch and feel for yourself that one is part of a bigger movement for the greater good of mankind.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 25th, 2014
1 month to go.

Ball of HOPE

The Ball of HOPE - our charity event in Cape TownMay 16th, 2015
8 months to go.

Stefan Hippler

Blog Categories

Block Entries Calender

August 2014
S M T W T F S
« Jul    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

HOPE Cape Town Twitter

You can share this blog in many ways..

Bookmark and Share

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,304 other followers

Translation – Deutsch? Française? Espanol? …

The translation button is located on each single blog page, Copy the text, click the button and paste it for instant translation:
Website Translation Widget

or for the translation of the front page:

* Click for Translation

RSS HIV und Human RIghts

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Copyright

© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This not withstanding the following applies:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,304 other followers

%d bloggers like this: