God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

Day 9: 25th April 2011

Before 7 am the small little village we call “nowhere“ awakes to life. Snacks with sweet coffee, potteries, cloth, fresh orange juice, vegetables – a colourful and lively picture, only customs decides to sleep one more hour and we need another 90 minutes to get all the paperwork done. We are too late for our meeting in Guatemala City – so it will happen without us. We follow the roads of Guatemala leading us through mountains, partly covered by the typical green of the rain forest.

At 5.30 pm we enter the small border town of San Cristobal, where Klaus Herbener, the security officer of the German Embassy, is waiting for us. He organised a heavily armed military police which will escort us on the way through the country. The reason is that El Salvador is one of the most dangerous countries in the world after nightfall. At 7pm we can leave customs behind us and head to the capital, the police in front of us with all that they have to offer: speed, flashing lights and sirens – and an hour later we reach the capital. In the middle of town under the shadow of the statue “El Salvador del Mundo” we are welcomed by a great reception. Even being hours late because of the corrupt border system of Guatemala,, more than 20 journalists are still waiting for us. Unfortunately the National Minister of Health and UNAIDS head of council, Maria Isabel Rodrigues and labour minister Victoria De Aviles had to leave before our arrival, but the representatives of 7 HIV & AIDS organisations are still eager to meet us.

The acting German Ambassador Thomas Motak also stayed for a cordial welcome. Not to forget to mention the Fundacion Inocencia, which already was supported by “be your own hero e.V.” with Euro 17.500 to sustain their work with kids and youth.

During the day several AIDS organisations had performed on the place through theatre performances, handing out prevention information and offering rapid tests and counselling. Now the Director for HIV and AIDS prevention of the National Ministry of Health, Mrs Anna Isabel Nieto reports about the success in her work. Several NGO´s and Government have joined hands to develop a 5 years National Action Plan and to encourage politicians to speak out publicly about the pandemic.

Later that evening we experience another surprise: The German Embassy has reserved a table at a restaurant to invite the whole team for a meal – and yes, also for a cool beer; well deserved after the last days on the road.

The night we spend in our tents in front of the German Embassy, closely watched by local guards. A really big “thank you” to the German Embassy, especially Thomas Motak and his team. We felt welcomed and cared for in a very special way!

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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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