God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

17.09.2009 School anniversary in Brooklyn

Yesterday evening I was invited to join a performance of students of the Holy Cross Primary School in Brooklyn near Cape Town – and as every year, it was marvellous to see how the first till seven grader performed and transformed a school hall into a studio, a landing on the moon, a school class 50 years ago and much more, all done with lots of music, singing and dancing. Seeing in the clear eyes of most of these youngsters one wonders while watching the performance how they will do in life. What will they achieve after leaving school? What future is for them in this wonderful paradise called South Africa, where the beauty and the beast are always in reach. Where world icons like Nelson Mandela live side by side by with people killing each other on a daily base for a cigarette, some Nike shoes or a handful of Rand.  Where the triumph of mind over 27 years of imprisonment meets the downfall of millions who cannot make a living for themselves still in our days and rely more or less on a handout of the government, too little to live, too much to die…

What kind of dreams, of hopes I had when I was in that age? I cannot remember exactly but I surely had not the worries and sorrows of everyday struggle these kids endure sometimes on a daily base. This from Holy Cross Sisters lead school is like an island of hope: a beacon of assurance that there is a way forward in this new South Africa. We can not honour enough those teachers and educators, be it in this particular school or all over the country who try their very best to give those kids a chance in life in giving them a base of knowledge. And yes, knowledge is part of development, is part of being able to be self-determined as an adult and to be able to contribute towards society and the community they live in.

But Brooklyn Holy Cross Primary School is for me also travel back in time, the school is a sort of deja-vu of my own school time – the way of teaching, of discipline … it all reminds me on my good old school days somehow ages ago.
In May I attended the 30th anniversary of my own “Abitur” and I it was amazing to see all those faces again I left in 1979 when starting to study theology and philosophy. How most of them had changed but still: again the deja-vu of behaviour patterns – not everything changed really.

I went home after the performance with joy in my heart having seen another generation hopefully being able to do better as we have done, being more wise in using our resources, caring more about nature and the ecology, avoiding meaningless wars and battles and.. and .. and.. And in my heart I also know that it will be most probably not the case. Is the world really going only in circles? Is every generation hoping that the next does not make the same mistakes? Like every parent is hoping to provide a better future for their own kids?

I am not sure, but nobody can take away the joy this eve seeing those kids having a fun of a lifetime while performing, parents to be proud of their kids, nobody can take away two hours of just being content with the world, the people around me and myself. That is more than I hoped for. Thanks to all students and teachers of this school.

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HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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