God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

If I would have a say…

2019 is election year in South Africa and those residing here can already sense the  unease with which political parties and organizations start to get into voting gear – it will be messy and surely deadly for some – violence, intimidation and promises never to be fulfilled will fill the airwaves and the headlines of the newspapers and media outlets.

Being a vocal critic of politicians and movements trying to govern this country I asked myself what would be my priorities if I would have a say – what does this country, this wounded society need in my humble opinion anyhow nobody important is interested in. Nevertheless, who criticizes must also know what he ideally want out of those he takes on – so here is what I think South Africa would need to get going again:

Firstly concentrate and throw lots of money and support into the basic education system while cutting the influence of the teachers union – having the best basic education and making sure that every learner has the best change to attend a school with competent teachers and satisfying facilities should be top priority.

Secondly an initiative to make every company in South Africa to add one employee to train and uplift – tax incentives and other perks could encourage even smaller companies to join such a drive – more people in work and up-skilled – what a benefit for those families and society in general.

A third important focus should be on maintenance – be it water, electricity or other infrastructure  – private-public partnerships and a heightened sense for the importance of maintaining constantly what is available and caters for the basic needs for all citizens.

The health system needs much more attention – not a NHI system which only distributes current failures to a greater audience – but fixing a broken system – health together with education are basics to build up societies and communities.

Entrepreneurship versus entitlement could be the phrase for another initiative to boost the economics already existing in so many suburbs and townships – there are so many clever people out there in the best sense of the word – there is so much goodwill – with the right tools much more could be done to boost economics.

Tackling the ugly face of racism and trying to right the wrongs of the past in a fair way should be high on the agenda – I strongly believe that we shout too much at each other, use social media to express our raw emotions without really listening and falling prey to those in politics abusing those emotions for political gains – places and town meetings for story telling – listening to each other – how much could churches and civil society organization as partners in this be of help in facilitating such story-telling-listening-deeply-events to bring people really together and allow for healing.

Land distribution in a fair manner is important – using also at length first all the land government posses – but acknowledging that most people don’t want to work the land as farmers but have the desire to live in or close by cities.

Together with zero tolerance to corruption, no cadre deployment, a fading out of BBBEE in the current form and strengthening police and the justice system this country could walk with hope into the next years – creating a positive narrative which spins the people and society as such into a gear of productive energy and allowing for dreams to be fulfilled.

Well, I guess this all remains a dream as long as the ruling political party maintains to own the right of ruling the country and others with younger followers abuse the plight of the elderly during apartheid to demand everything while giving nothing back; it is called entitlement or revolution. South Africa lacks in the moment politicians who are real servants of the people and for the people – but there is always the hope that things can change for the better and people with deep love and compassion for this wounded society come to the forefront. Never lose hope.

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

2018 National Senior Certificate results and false hope

Every year the same scenario: the results of the written 2018 National Senior Certificate exams (equal the German “Abitur”) are publicized and discussions erupt in South Africa about the real numbers. While the Department of Basic Education announces the pass rate of 78,2 % and celebrates achievements, others are pointing out that the figures are trumped-up – as more than 400 000 students never made it to the final exams and if calculated in, the pass rate would be lower than 40%. Also worries of manipulation of results are voiced as needed benchmarks are changed to create “more fairness” by those advocating the higher numbers while others see it more critically.

Looking at the lowering of standards to achieve the necessary results to be able to study foundation is laid for a lot of disappointment and complications. Having the certificate clearly does not prepare most students for university – but the for-said beautification of results gives lead to the impression of students being able and ready to attend university. Besides financial difficulties frustration is the consequence when students then discover that they are unable or not enough prepared to follow academic studies – and the breeding ground is laid for the unrest and violence we saw in the #feesmustfall movement in so many instances.

A broken basic education system leads to massive drop-outs in the process and for many others to unhappiness, anger and frustration for those who made it further. Add the frustration and expectations of parents and family and the perception that not missing preparation but “the system” hinders success of studies one gets the poisoned mix of entitlement and attitude, which is exploited by those who bring then the “race question” and “decolonization”to the toxic mix.

If politicians would be honestly concerned about society they would start fixing the basic education system, putting money into better schools, teachers training, cutting the wings of unions interfering and manipulation the education system and slowly built up a school system of excellence for all.  Then no quotas and no exam result manipulations would be needed and a fair chance would be given to everybody entering the education system.

And it should also be clear that academic study is not the ultimate goal for everybody – vocations in other professions are needed and qualifications in skilled craft and trades are equally important compared with a Bcom or a Master degree.

Lastly: transformation in this area is needed and needs time – and if South Africa would not have wasted now years falling into the coma of corruption, incompetence and cadre deployment, the country would be much more advanced as it is in our days. Blaming only the bad old times of apartheid only works for those less educated or being so ideologized that facts don’t matter.
Education is the basic requirement for entrepreneurship, equality and the willingness to work hard to achieve dreams in life – too many young people have been left behind or given the false impression of entitlement  – time to change course and give the younger generation the tools for a future of prosperity and the ability to contribute meaningful to society.

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

2018 – Reflections

2018 has been a tough year for many people – and indeed this now ending year has had its challenges in private and in the public sector.

Globally populism and ignorance seem to have taken over the political scene in many countries – the turmoil of US politics triggered by a self-absorbed and mafia-like operating president and poised political stand-off between the major political parties swaps like a tsunami over the global village. Populist governments in Poland, Italy, Austria, Turkey as well as Hungary endanger more and more the future of the European Union. The question how to deal with refugees and immigrants and how to share resources trigger anxiety and right-wing ideology – a poisonous mix not assisting in advancing the development of the human race and society.

In South Africa the ruling ANC struggles to clean up the mess years of corruption and cadre deployment as well as looting have created – to admit guilt and to come clean is difficult for a liberation movement turned political party without having arrived mentally and structurally there yet. Additionally poverty and hopelessness as well as entitlement obviously aid those parties and movements in the country which try to exploit the situation for their either racist, fascist or communist dreams of a society far away from the rainbow nation and the dreams of Madiba. We have difficult years ahead…

The churches made also headlines – and certainly in the case of the Roman-Catholic Church it hasn’t been the ones one would like to take note of. The child abuse cases mounted and whenever one thought to have reached the peak new bad news emerged. One German Bishop mentioned that the abuse is part of the DNA of the church – trying under all circumstances to keep the picture of a holy church with hierarchical structures not allowing to be tempered with. And I guess he is right – if we really take the message of the unconditional love of God towards each and everybody serious the structure of the church, the gaps between laity and clergy, the attitude of those up the ladder, the way the church is structured and the way the church is operated has to be reflected on and ultimately change towards more participation and a real sense of being sense to simply and only pronounce this unconditional love. It’s not about a revolution to bring the structures up-side-down, but on a level where we are all on the same level looking eye to eye with respect giving others the same dignity and importance. A deep reflection of our teaching about human sexuality will definitely help too.

I could go on to list more challenges but it would be unfair to 2018 not also to mention all the good things having happened, all those who worked to build up more humanity, to create more love, to stipulate more joy and to make sure those less fortune have a chance to more life and fulfillment.  All those volunteers, those working with NGO’s and foundations, those who seriously assisted and helped fellow neighbors, welcomed strangers, stood up against discrimination and upheld the human dignity for all. Not to forget initiatives to keep creation in balance and to fight for the future of mother earth. And there might be the one or other politician and leader having the plight of the people at heart, who did the utmost to uplift his fellow men and women.

I guess, modern technology, social media and advanced possibilities of communication make us more aware of what is going on in the world – but all these advances can also be used to create more possibilities for political leaders and movements to control society and suppress different opinions. China is an example of a dangerous modi operandi which will make Orwell’s 1984 a cheap copy of a future reality.
It also helps fundamental militant movements to recruit followers around the world and manipulate them to become violent attackers within so-called free or perceived hostile societies. Words matter – therefore I believe we should never combine the words “faith” and “fundamentalism” – because if faith is mainly fundamentalism and militant it has developed into an ideology – and it is ideology which makes people blind for realities. Faith only supports more life, supports more love, supports more hope – ideology kills people.

May 2019 be a year of reflection and turn around strategies – populism, ideologies and ignorance will bring us nowhere – and let’s be clear: mother earth is not depending on us human beings – we depend on her for survival.  Let reason rule and insight into the Divine in whom we live and prosper. There is always hope I guess…

A blessed New Year – don’t forget to be a blessing for others around you.

 

 

Filed under: Africa, Catholic Church, General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Job offer HOPE Cape Town Association

HOPE Cape Town Association – HOPE Doctor

 

HOPE Cape Town, a local non-profit Organisation providing outreach and education in the field of HIV and AIDS and related illnesses, seeks a full time medical doctor to co-manage the HOPE Doctor portfolio.

Responsibilities of this position include, but are not limited to:

• Project management and support
Planning, initiating and executing HOPE Cape Town Association projects and programs.
• Research
Identify research opportunities; plan and implement formal and informal research with translation into the community
• Clinical work
Provide comprehensive clinical care to children at health care facilities which HOPE Cape Town supports.
• Training
Train and support the HOPE Community Health Workers
Provide mentorship, training and awareness as required
• Other
Interact with donors and media as required
Participate in HOPE Cape Town events

The HOPE Doctor will be based at the HOPE Cape Town offices at Tygerberg Campus, University of Stellenbosch, but will be required to travel to health care facilities and community based projects. The successful candidate will form part of senior staff team. This is a full time position (40 hours per week). He/She will report to the Program Coordinator.

Requirements:
• M.B.Ch.B (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery)
• Valid Registration with HPCSA (Health Professions Council South Africa)
• Registration with MPS (Medical Protection Society)
• Excellent interpersonal skills
• Superior Communication Skills: Fluent in English (spoken and written); other languages an asset
• Advanced computer skills (Microsoft Office)
• Drivers license with independent transport
• No criminal record
• Work permit (if not SA resident)

The following experience and skills would be advantageous:
• Project management and administrative experience
• At least one year’s experience in managing HIV positive patients on ARV treatment (including children)
• Diploma in HIV Management of college of family physicians of South Africa (Dip HIV Man (SA))
• Research experience
• Interest in development within community

Applications
should include a covering letter detailing each of the identified qualifications and skills, proof of qualifications and a current CV and a minimum of two references. Completed applications may be forwarded
to:
Dr Izane Reyneke
HOPE Cape Town
Room 0005B; K floor,
Clinical Building, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Tygerberg Campus University of Stellenbosch,
P.O. Box 19145, Tygerberg 7505 Cape Town – South Africa
Phone 021 – 938 9930
Fax 021 – 938 6662
Email izane.reyneke@hopecapetown.com
Suitable candidates will be invited for an interview
Closing date 20 January 2019.

Filed under: Africa, General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Cape Town USA, HOPE Gala Dresden, Medical and Research, Networking, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , ,

After weeks of silence II

Sometimes it is good just to pause and be silent – especially when the world around one is seemingly drifting and spinning somehow in confusing directions. Silence gives time to reflect and to sort out what is important or not important – silence gives time to calm down and find the own midst again before the necessary action. Silence is the cushion to hold a situation close and intimate enough to discern and decide on the way forward.

After 7 weeks of traveling in Europe and America the first I have noticed in all the silence is the fact, that there are so many good people out there – while the newspapers and internet news are full of horrible and anxiety causing matters one has to remind oneself that most people are good people – that most people simply want to have a decent life and a better future for their kids.  The mean ones, the trouble makers are a minority – so there is meaningful hope that times will change.

Obviously coming back to South Africa and the load shedding, the corrupt political past and present as displayed by the official inquiries and watching the behavior of politicians clearly  having not the good of the nation in mind but their own perks and benefits – it becomes more difficult to remain hopeful for this beloved country and chosen home.
But also here looking more closely one cannot miss that hopefully the phase of naked corruption and untainted fascist rhetoric of some opposition politicians will come to an end and South Africa will be back on a way to prosperity for all and a non-racial society – home for all.

Given, Trump country teaches us that fake news or complete ignorance to sciences and truth can be voted into office in a democracy but the midterm election have shown that checks and balances are still possible and the institutions hold against the madness of self-absorbed politics attempting to spin out of control. The diversity of people within a society gives always a chance that balances are shifted – but also here there is hope that all will come alright after a detour which always teaches mankind a lesson to learn.

It is this hope the time of Advent is talking about – a hope which has its deepest roots in the certainty that our lives are meaningful and that the lives of all those around us are as important and as meaningful as ours. Nobody is first – nobody has a firstborn right – we are all equal as brothers and sisters called to reflect in the season of Advent and then to bear witness of one human race responsibly living on the planet given to us for the time being.

And where is that hope, there is love and there is faith – two other components important to the time of Advent. There is the willingness to work together for the good of all – and when we celebrate Christmas in some weeks – this hope, this love and this faith is manifested in the little baby born and celebrated on Christmas eve. New life means a new chance – in every newborn we can see all the possibilities of life and the sky is the limit – and so is our possibility to assist in turning this world into a good place for all.

Everybody is needed,
every good will be appreciated,
every good deed counts

– let us encourage each other and not despair –
the message of Advent is that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel – closer than we think and brighter than we can imagine.

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

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
6 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2019

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 18th, 2019

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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