God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

blessed, joyful or horrible?

Depending on whom you ask these days, the answer how 2017 will play out is answered differently. In the USA Democrats fear a horrible start of a Trump presidency, in South Africa, President Zuma is joyful that the ANC, celebrating birthday today, has the same impact as the birth of Jesus and those in Istanbul having survived the attack on the nightclub will feel blessed to luckily escape the bullets of the shooter. So it seems that situations determine the outlook of the year just started to come to life.
Reflecting on it, I am not sure this is the right way to look at it. Situations I often can not change, they way I react is the only option to turn the tide or to get through the year sane and with the joy and dignity it deserves. So yeah, the facts might be favorable or unfavorable from the outside but at the end it is me who decides on how to work with them or through them. Trump is a pain in the neck and his election has shown the limits of democracy when millions of disappointed citizen believe a self-absorbed womanizer and liar, but exactly those limitations will trigger the sense of resistance and finally goodness in many: the values of protecting the poor, supporting those who have to flee their home, to uphold constitutional rights  – we will see a wave of humanity balancing the ignorance of the elected ones. Whatever the perceived outlook is for somebody: the year 2017 will be as mixed, as challenging, as rewarding, as surprising like any other year before. Like in every year it will open and close doors unexpectedly, we will see people gone for good and for some of us, the door of this life will also close forever.

Who you are will determine how you manage and see the year in respective – the inner values, your stand in life, your rooting in life will at the end be the compass to navigate through all the challenges ahead. And the same goes for organizations: having build and building core values with consistency and dedication, knowing what you are good at and where to improve, having a plan and still being flexible enough to reevaluate, being adventurous while knowing your trade is the recipe for success – and this success is in the case of an NGO like HOPE Cape Town measured in the quantity of hope and love you where able to pass on to those in need of support and assistance. Every smile of a child feeling healthy and loved, every positive outlook of a struggling youngster mastering the years before adulthood will be a marker of this success; every baby born healthy and put into the arms of an exhausted mother after birth will contribute to how this year is playing out for people. Let’s take what we are faced with in 2017 and turn it as much as possible into a blessing for all concerned.

 

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

Compliments of the seasons

Dear friends and readers of this blog,

even if the news coming out of Berlin, Ankara, Aleppo, USA and other parts of the world are either very sad or not encouraging at all – this time of the year remains special:

Christmas is a time to remind ourselves what is important in life: living it as a precious gift every day. Wherever you are, and whatever you believe in, just take a moment during this important time of the year and celebrate the unconditional love given to you by someone.

Merry Christmas – UKhisimusi omuhle – Moni Wa Chikondwelero Cha Kristmasi – عيد ميلاد مجيد – Vrolijk Kerstfeest – Joyeux Noël – Frohe Weihnachten – Καλά Χριστούγεννα – Zalig Kerstfeest – शुभ क्रिसमस – חג מולד שמח  – Buon Natale – Selamat Hari Natal – Maligayang Pasko – Feliz Natal – Geseënde Kersfees – Schöni Wiehnachte – Suk sarn warn Christmas – Izilokotho Ezihle Zamaholdeni –

For all those celebrating a different feast in these days – compliments of the seasons, but for all of you:

 Thanks also for all your support, love and friendship, be it towards the project HOPE Cape Town or to me personally.
For 2017 all blessings possible and many moments of the knowledge that we are all one in the divine mystery.

 Stefan

Filed under: General,

As 2016 winds down…

As the year 2016 comes to a close, there is the usual time of reflection. On first view 2016 was indeed for the global community a very sad year: populism was triumphant, in the USA a self absorbed womanizer was elected to be the next president and as even history shows that you can’t run a country like a business as Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy clearly showed – the US system granted victory to the next failure with dire consequences to be seen if I may add. The human race is not learning nor is it able to master and digest what modern science and social media throw at them. After creating the global village and interconnecting with each other – humans are back to nationalism, patronism and guidance by anxiety and promised simple solutions.
In Germany, my home country this all reflected in the drama unfolding regarding refugees, the strengthening of the right-wings, the clash between those following in the footstep of reborn Neonazis and common sense and the uphold of human rights. A battle endangering the European Union symbolized in the Brexit and in the high amount of votes in the Austrian presidential elections. It seems that balance is lost and panic rules.In South Africa 2016 was the year of the Zuptas, the state capture, Nakandla, the SABC8 – and if conspiracy theories to capture a state are known in fiction, it shows reality in the Gupta’s attempt with the help of a president, who surely would have been a great village elders but he is completely out of place as a leading statesman. The mixture of tradition, corruption, brutality, streetwise cleverness is breath-taking and dangerous. And it hurts those suffering the most: the poor people of South Africa.
In this context the systems human mankind created to organize itself are not only abused in a constant way from those in power, but they also develop a perfection which makes them inhumane to its core. The spirits we created are taking over and it seems that compassion, seeing every situation as what it is, indeed a special one, as an impossible undertaking.
An example is the ongoing discussion in the Roman-Catholic Church about Amoris Laetitia: it shows a great example that people are resisting to except that there is no black and white, or in the computer language “zero” and “one” – systems have to be clear cut and judgements have to follow this rule. The law, which is an expression of mercy is seen as a threat to order when applied with the component of conscience and judged situation recognized as unique.
All in all the complexity of life and the interconnection with the possibilities of social media and constant news updates of all sorts seems to overstrain most humans and counter the believe in globalization – the pendulum is going into the opposite direction with a dire outlook into 2017. Anxiety and populism are governing our global village and both are used and abused to keep all afloat for the benefit of a few.

In this scenario the work of NGO’s and community based initiatives like HOPE Cape Town and millions of others are mere drops in the ocean – but those drops seem to me the only hope we have to survive the waves of inhumanity serving those aforesaid few. Those drops are the basis to conquer the negativity and abuse happening in our days, be it religious, social or political – those drops will make sure that 2017 will see rays of hope, rays of faith, rays of love reaching those suffering under the systems which try to maintain the status quo of this world.

Filed under: General, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

World Aids Day 2016

o-world-aids-day-facebook“Leadership. Commitment. Impact” so the slogan for the World Aids Day 2016 which the world will celebrate coming week. Signs are already visible – newspapers and magazines are publishing more and more stories about HIV and AIDS, marketing prescribes for many products and messages the red ribbon – and as always on the 2nd of December some reviews will end the frenzy and hype around the pandemic. The world is getting quiet again till next year same time.

“Leadership. Commitment. Impact” – when I look around the world in our days – there is neither responsible leadership nor commitment prominently visible. The global village is rather falling apart in nations of own interest again, in the USA a racist and misogynist is elected president, in Turkey there is a dictator in the making and right-wing politicians worldwide gain popularity by only looking to create walls and distances between people. In South Africa President Zuma and the ruling party miss the boat of leadership completely and run the country into the ground if it continues like this.

Maybe we expect leadership and commitment from the wrong people and parties. Looking at the AIDS pandemic we can learn that leadership did not come from those in power. US President Reagan did everything possible to ignore the pandemic, church leaders – and some until today – were calling it the punishment of God – no, leadership came from those who were at the margins of society – in this case the gay people who organized in a committed way resistance against ignorance, demanded public attention and at the same time cared with passion and compassion about those about to lose their lives in mainly young age. Those, who were criminalized, ostracized, punished and outlawed fought the fight and brought at the end even a global political body like the UN to dedicate a meeting on a pandemic – a first in the history of the entity.

HIV and Aids brought so the attention of the global village not only to its own plight, but other sicknesses torturing those living in Africa and other far away areas as seen from Europe and the USA came under the spotlight. Even a global fond was established – another first in this regard. Maybe it needs a drama of that magnitude to bring people together – to let them forget about their own interests only and to realize the interconnections of human mankind and creation as such.
HIV and Aids are not sexy anymore – medication has stopped the immediate carnage and prolonged life in theory for all, in practice mainly for those able to afford it. Looking at the figures we see that too many people don’t have access to treatment and the infection rates are climbing disturbingly in some countries again while others – like South Africa – remain stuck on a high level. The Global Fund is struggling to maintain its impact as countries don’t honor their commitments or paying less and less believing the pandemic is under control. Looking at other viral and bacterial diseases we know that this is false hope. Life is a bitch – and evolution at work and if we don’t watch out, chances are high that we see reruns of battles we thought we have won long ago.

I wish that World Aids Day 2016 is more than just a reminder of the plight of HIV positive people. I hope that this day also serves as a beacon of hope that leadership is coming back, commitment is not only pledged but practiced – and not only in handing out medication or testing people, but also to create a surroundings and environment that let people living with HIV live without discrimination and with proper access to treatment and care in a peaceful setting. The global village needs an urgent reminder in our days that we respectfully need each other to create a future where diseases are healed, pandemics are maintained, not only those of the body but also of the hearts and souls and minds of people.

hope_logo_transparent2013

 

 

 

 

 

HOPE Cape Town is working in a holistic way to give young people living with HIV and related illnesses hope and a future.
www.hopecapetown.com / www.hopecapetownusa.com

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

Challenging times

Times are moving fast and arriving in Dresden attending the 11th HOPE Gala it is time to reflect on all what is happening in the world around us.
In South Africa, times are getting more and more tough – students are trying to force the state into submission of free education with turmoil, violence and militant language – not seeing that their initially good cause is meanwhile compromised for many reasons. President Zuma survived another non-confidence vote as the ANC is still not ready to acknowledge the magnitude of corruption and damage done to the country.
In the USA a womanizer and liar with a very limited world view is elected president via a system which assembles only a shadow of democracy. In Germany right-wing thoughts are popular again and the populist AfD seems to win the hearts and minds of more and more people.
Black and white, simple solutions, believing in simple answers, following a gut feeling of fear and anxiety seems to govern most people in this global village. And the systems holding societies together are fading away in the challenges of today; the vast amount of information available at any given time seems to be so indigestible to most global village inhabitants so that they seek refuge in those mentioned simple answers.
Churches seemed to be too much self-absorbed to have the time to really take note and actively work against this trend of time – when you look to the USA, most Catholic Bishops were so occupied with certain topics that the social Catholic teaching faded away in the judgements given before the elections.

Well, life turns in circles and therefore there is always hope that the wheels are turning again and reason will prevail. There is no need to get lost in desperation, but this is a time to watchfully and carefully observe the situation and to actively try to correct the turns of society and their leadership into a direction towards humanity, charity, tolerance and compassion at heart.

The HOPE Gala in Dresden shows me that people still care, that people still go the extra mile to assist and help and reach out to people far away; those living on the margins of the wealthy  spots in our global village. There is hope as events like this are happening not only in Dresden but also for many good causes around the globe. As long as there are some lights in the darkness of todays social and political developments, as long as there are people not giving up on trying to better all lives instead only their own ones – as long as there is resistance to let go those unfortunate living in the wrong places or born at the wrong times there is a reason to fight for a global village which is compassionate about everybody equally.

I guess we also have to learn to strive a balance between information flows possible and the ability of people to digest those info. Again we have to learn that human minds and brains and hearts have a limited capacity of in-take. And that fear and anxiety are bad advisers when it comes to develop our future as a human family.

As always life goes on and there is light at the end of the tunnel – faith, love and hope remain as the bible tells us rightly.

Filed under: General, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
9 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2017

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 13th, 2017
3 months to go.

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