God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

Day 10: 26th April 2011

It is 4am in the morning and already time to leave. The protection unit is ready to bring us to the next border – again with flashing lights and all that a police car has to offer. And for someone called Mahuma there is a real reason for joy. For the first time in his life he is allowed to overtake the rushing and flashing police car as he drives Max, our camera man and of course we need some pictures of this flashing ride through the night. At 7am we bid farewell to our protectors at the border to Honduras.

Two hours later two representatives of Volkswagen Honduras welcome us directly on the other side of the border, also driving an Amarok. They escort us to the capital Tegucigalpa, where journalists and representatives of various HIV and AIDS organisations are waiting for us. The Round Table is high profile: Mayor Elisa Ramirez and the German Ambassador Karl-Heinz Rode are representing politics and adding value to the HIV activists represented. Regional Director Alberto Stella from UNAIDS for Honduras and Nicaragua is also present to address us.

And the discussion is different and controversial. This is due to the fact, that with Rev Fr Roberto Paiz for the first time a Roman Catholic priest from the local church (besides our very own priest) is present and argues with the others about the condom use related to the prevention question. Even if he is personally not against it, he doubts that condoms are effective as the only tool and underlines the importance of education. Surely this is an important point within the prevention work.

After the handover of a cheque of US$ 500 through Gilma Paola Chavez Melendey of the Banco Lafise we are on the road again for the next stop in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. But this time we are running out of luck and encounter the opposite of hospitality: how to let people pay some extra money. The last of several military checks shortly before the border:
Do we have all necessary equipment belonging to a car, all tools to signal a breakdown of the car? Of course we have – including vests with yellow strips. Hmm – but what about fire extinguisher?  We do not trust our ears, but we understood right: fire extinguishers – well, we figure out that if we even would have these on board, we would be asked as long as need be to get us to the point of capitulation. End of the game: 50 bugs (US$) fine for not having fire extinguisher on board – a simply must have in every car of Honduras…. we learn to believe fairy tales as we go along….

As we enter Nicaragua it is clear that it is too late to attend the planed press conference. So we head in the direction of the capital just to stop after passing it and search for a resting place, away from the busy road in a lovely mountain sierra setting.

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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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