God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

Silence or the aftermath of a living legend

Done – the 10th HOPE Gala in Dresden is part of history and most guests from far have left the city again – others have returned to their daily struggle in so many different ways. There is always that feeling of emptiness after such a big event – memories are formed, thoughts are structured and emails and pictures and newspaper clips remind you on what happened not so long ago.
Silence – I can hear the silence breaking through after days of meetings, encounters, celebrations, dinners, touching moments – and one is again alone with oneself.
But one memory is sticking in my head – another encounter with the living legend Harry Belafonte, “Mr B” as his daughter Gina called him. Charity dinner and HOPE award – and some moments of having a conversation with him. Movie clips recall the first black entertainer appearing on US TV together with a white performer. A friend of Martin Luther King, part of the black movement and the march onto Washington; his fight for civil rights in the USA, his travels and advocacy for Africa and especially South Africa and his friendship with Nelson Mandela – all coming to life in a 10 minute trailer during the charity dinner. But one sentence is still stuck in my mind: “I have never thought that I will campaign and fight for the same things 50 years later again”, he recalls while attending to racial violence in the suburbs of US American cities.
With 88 years, it seems the conclusion is that the fight never stops and that one can do so little only to be change the world or parts of it. But at the same time he is such an inspiration and encouragement while speaking and sharply analyzing the situations of todays world and confirming that he believes in the goodness of humanity.
And he is charming – telling me that “Fr Stefan and Pope Francis” are giving him hope for the Catholic Church and reconciles him a bit as a born Catholic with his church is obviously music in the ears of a priest working in South Africa . But it is also more than flattery after his also long personal struggle with the Catholic Church. And it does not end there: He has the ability to encourage and touch the lives of people instant and with a smile and an aura I have only so far experienced when I met Nelson Mandela. One can feel the struggle, the wisdom and the maturity, but also the goodness of a person without making him an instant saint – he remains human and looking at eye level.Silence – and somehow lots of faces are appearing in my mind – all those people I met during the events in Dresden, all the people who simply gave up time and / or money to come to attend, to support, to give, to share, to participate, to contribute and to make sure that Dresden is heard in this world as a city with heart and soul caring for those infected and affected by HIV and Aids far away in South Africa. For me that is another magic to be touched by the friendliness and commitment of thousands of people in the last 10 years being faithful to one cause – not letting us down but continuing to believe that sharing is making the world a better place. Ubuntu in the best sense of the word.

Silence outside, but inside there are volcanic eruptions of thoughts, of gratefulness, of yearning for a better world, for bridging the gap; there is exhaustion and joy, but also the resolutness to stand up and walk another year in the hope of touching lives and bridging gaps to better the world by assisting those less fortune. And the hope that one day this seemingly endless struggle succeed and the world is a better place for all. Remember these words from the son “We are the world..”? A song Mr B organised to make us all aware of our responsiblity – until today.

I want to conclude this silent reflection with a thanks to Saxonia Systems, Viola and Hermjo Klein, ParX and Michaela Gornickel and her team and all involved in the 10th HOPE Gala in Dresden. You are all in my heart which is grateful forever.Foto Michael Schmidt vl Viola Klein Harry Belafonte Stefan Hippler001

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Gala Dresden, Reflection, , , , , , ,

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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