God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

A new year for HOPE Cape Town – some thoughts…

With the 1st of March HOPE Cape Town is starting afresh in a new financial circle – the new budgets are approved and put into working, the old ones are closed and now made ready for the independent audit. Obviously the change in the currency exchange rate and so many other factors influence the outcome of budget planing – in our days it is getting more and more difficult to be as precise as possible. Therefore HOPE Cape Town is determined to follow true with the dream to have as much own capital as needed to pay all operations from the interest. It would take away the worries of constant fundraising, the constant knocking on doors which obviously also with all the reporting binds forces which could be used to aid those in need directly.

With HOPE for Babies in the maternity wards of Tygerberg Hospital the work with pregnant moms, delivering moms and then paediatric HIV to follow through with the kids infected and affected HOPE Cape Town compliments more and more its own goal to work with children from birth till they are matured in adulthood, only to come back as parents of newly born babies. The first 1000 days play a pivot role in having a holistic view and HOPE Cape Town is proud to be part of the program, the Western Province is pursuing to make sure that every newborn has the best chance in life possible in the framework of the circumstances he or she is born into. Re-visiting the Go-Box project to engage with young mothers and their babies in teaching them how to stimulate the little once with educational toys and education play adds to the bouquet of services.

Published research in national journals gives HOPE Cape Town the chance to showcase the results of best practice and to share this knowledge with those beyond the Western Cape boarders. Attending national and international conferences or, as just happened with our Program Coordinator doing an internship in a German paediatric hospital in Passau, adds to the possibilities to learn, share and being part of an international movement assisting children being infected, affected or having related illnesses or medical problems.

HIV and AIDS are topics which interconnect with so many other topics and portfolios. This lead for example to the founding of HOPE Cape Town USA – poverty, racism, the desire for Afro-Americans to find their African roots as well as infection rates are common areas to engage in a close working relationship with the USA.  Obviously also the chance to contribute as an US American to our work in South Africa is a welcomed component of this adventure. Many US students take a chance to engage with HOPE Cape Town when visiting South Africa on a field trip or excursion.

So, this small little entity called HOPE Cape Town connects three continents now: HOPE Kapstadt Stiftung in Bonn/Germany, HOPE Cape Town USA in Dallas/Texas and HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust in Cape Town / South Africa. The global family is growing slowly but substantially with all its challenges here in South Africa, but also to bring worlds together in a global village which seems in the moment so much driving apart. We hear about “America First” and all those funny slogans – HOPE Cape Town remains committed to “humanity first” and the organization will work tireless not only to serve those in need in the Western Cape but also to make sure that international understanding and care for each other stays a much-needed focal point.

Filed under: Africa, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Cape Town USA, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Difficult times for an US adventure

Preparing for my trip to the USA in March I wonder how the present situation is playing out. The messages coming from US soil are divers, hostile, confusing and at least irritating. Having founded HOPE Cape Town USA last year, nobody could envisage that the situation is getting so different in such a short time. It seems that a split is going through society, either complete and utter praise or complete and utter condemnation on the style of government in which the new president conducts business.
What does this mean for a NGO trying to bridge between the USA and South Africa – to tackle common problems, specifically HIV, AIDS and children, but also related problems? There are two possible scenarios: either people in the USA are so preoccupied with the internal battles that international affairs are on the back-burner; or the opposite effect will be seen: people want to make a point that “America first” is counteracted by “humanity first”.

Be it as it will be – the uncertainty does take its toll on planing and preparation for the work ahead. It creates more question marks than answers – but maybe the only answer is to go ahead, meet people in person and try to make the world a better place cutting through the rough waves of politics and anxieties. Maybe the joint venture can be a sign for those involved to remind themselves that the world is bigger than the tenure of a president and that focusing on the men in power might feed their egos as they crave for attention.

Maybe a bit “business as usual” is needed to maintain sanity in these turbulent days – showing practically what counts in life and for the good of the world. I am determined to continue walk my way with all those of good will – showing that “America first” maybe means “America first when it comes to humanity and service”. Let’s never forget that those we try to assist are those who need the compassion especially in such uncertain times – those in poverty, those at the bottom of society; those sick and thorn apart by daily problems need all help possible.

I am looking forward to meet my friends in the USA and to continue working for the hope we are called to be for others in need.

Filed under: Africa, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town USA, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , ,

Orlando

13407203_10154457792963643_1199818576249987981_nTraveling four weeks within the USA to establish HOPE Cape Town USA and visiting five states was quite a mission, but a wonderful opportunity to meet great people, to learn so much about this great country being plagued with so many problems from #blacklifematters, #stopHIVcriminalization to #prayfororlando.

I must admit that the latter really made me think and touched me in a way which I have not really fully understood. There is first the sheer unbelievable feeling to wake up to news of a mass shooting in Orlando – a single perpetrator killing 49 people and wounding another 25 before being shot himself. That alone makes you think about the gun laws in the USA, the unhealthy relationship between the freedom to carry a weapon as a constitutional right and a symbol of independence. The chocolate “Kinderueberraschung”, the chocolate egg with the surprise for kiddies is not allowed in  the USA because it is deemed dangerous for children, but you can buy an assault riffle without any problem. And to make this whole story even more confusing: people on a terror warning list are not able to fly with any airline in the USA, but they are allowed to purchase any weapon they desire. Logic is left in the dark and common sense seems to have disappeared.
But in Orlando, there are more layers – it was in a gay club where people were killed. A presumed safe place where LGBTI folks could relax and feel loved and appreciated amongst themselves turned into a deadly trap. An anyhow marginalized community received another deadly hit again and I must admit that the outpouring of condolences left a somehow bitter taste. Being it politicians or religious leaders voicing shock and condolences – I can’t help but notice the bigotry in their words having words of comfort for those they normally judge and put in a corner of sin and  wrongdoing.
I also learned about the story of “Pulse”, the club hit by this hate crime. The name is a reminder of a person having died from Aids related complications – the sister opened the club to remember his life and to create a place of joy and safety for the LGBTI community mostly hit in the USA from the HIV pandemic.

It is said that the perpetrator has pledged is loyalty to ISIS which brings me to the third and forth layers I am contemplating in the moment. The radicalization of people and the darker flip side of social media. It seems that the world becomes more radical, be it on governmental level or in social life: if you don’t get what you want or you disagree with your neighbor it seems that violence is the way to go for most people. Russia and Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq are examples but also looking into Africa, into South Africa where the local elections are due in August: how many counsellors and politicians have been killed in recent weeks and months, just as a result of power play – even within a party? Paris and Brussels and now only yesterday in England MP Jo Cox,  violence and killings mark more and more the political or ideological battle for minds and hearts.

And social media play their part in this big times. How easy is it to bring graphic contents into the world and to distribute it to every corner of it. How easy is it today to sit at home and being radicalized by watching violent videos almost like bloody reality shows. But would censorship be the alternative like the SABC, the South African National Broadcaster having decided to ban all violent protest from airing in the news?

A last layer (of many more in my mind) to mention is the realization that being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be deadly. An old wisdom newly internalized after a trip where everywhere I go there is gun violence and innocent bystanders are in danger. So life is precious and should be lived every minute up to the fullest.

The last four weeks have indeed triggered a lot of contemplation and reflection on how the world ticks in the moment and how much I want to tick with this world in the same tune – or even not. I can even sense a mild form of radicalization, not violent at all but being more conscious about who I am, what I stand for, what is important in life. And that is not only due to all things mentioned but also thanks to the wonderful people I had the pleasure to meet or to meet again: our newly appointed directors of HOPE Cape Town USA: Stacie, Shirley and Joe; Dan and Claudia in New Jersey, Veronica, Inga, Khadija, Tim and Rebaux in California, Rev Neil from the Cathedral of HOPE in Dallas/Texas; Bruce and Diane in Chicago and all those who came to the meet & greet event in Dallas/Texas.

Coming back to the beginning of this blog: HOPE Cape Town USA is established and we file now for the federal tax exemption status. If you want to know more, please visit http://www.hopecapetownusa.com

 

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town USA, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Memorial Day

IMG_0615Memorial weekend – for my US American friends a long weekend where they not only enjoy free time with family and friends, but also a time to reflect about those having given the ultimate sacrifice for the country. Everywhere flags lowered, on radio shows people phone in to commemorate loved once. Even if all other countries have this kind of memento for fallen soldiers, somehow it is a bit strange to me as the concept of a nation and fighting about territory or power and influence is somehow a strange concept for me. I simply can’t see that soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq during an unjust war can be styled into fallen heroes – for me they are rather victims of a political system unable to bring peace by peaceful means. But I guess there everybody has a different point of view.

Having said this, traveling within the States to develop a HOPE Cape Town related entity called HOPE Cape Town USA I realize more and more, how daunting this task is and that I have to learn a hell of a lot about the people, the way of life or better the way of lives, as crisscrossing the country I see vast differences in behavior and daily habits. But they all have things in common:
I am fascinated by the quest of freedom for the individual to pursue happiness, I am thrilled to see the general friendliness and openness and at the same time their notion of a gun loving nation is the darker flip side I have trouble to understand.

The generosity is mind-boggling, the gap between those having ways to much and those just living on the fringes of society or just making it through the year seems to be God-given in this country. The gap feels different from what I experience it in South Africa and I would have lots of question when it comes to the role of the federal government in terms of social services.

All that said to build up HOPE Cape Town USA is a task of magnitude – and I am so grateful to have with Stacie Greskowiak McNulty and Shirley and Joe Kunzmann persons of deep integrity and the will to assist and lead the effort in bringing Africa and America together. It is indeed not a one-way road: we can learn from each other and people from all walks of life, those living with HIV, those being affected by HIV but also all others we encounter can benefit from this exchange of ideas, this combined will to be a relevant piece in this mosaic we call the world.

IMG_0598I am excited, excited for HOPE Cape Town to be able to expand and connect, excited in my own capacity learning so much every time I meet with my US American friends, excited of the prospect of serving a meaningful purpose for those we care for in our work.

New York, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey – the first baby steps of HOPE Cape Town USA and on this Memorial Day 2016 I feel gratitude for all those people who serve their country by simply doing good, assisting those in need, serving the broader community and bringing people of different walks of life together for the benefit of the common good.

HOPE USA - Monserrat

Filed under: Africa, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Cape Town USA, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preparing for the USA

HOPE USA - MonserratIt has been quite a weekend with the Ball of HOPE taking place in Cape Town and also the AGM of the HOPE Cape Town Trust. And while some quests still remain in Cape Town and enjoying the mother city but also learning about the project, preparations are running high for a trip to the USA.
In February “HOPE Cape Town USA” was founded in Dallas / TX (www.hopecapetownusa.com) and now the four newly appointed directors are due to meet for the first time at the end of May. Besides this, meetings with NGO’s and other interested entities are scheduled in Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey. Besides the marketing and fundraising efforts this new family member of the HOPE Cape Town family will serve for, HOPE Cape Town USA is also instrumental to reach out and learn from each others experience in the fields of HIV and AIDS. Knowing that in parts of the USA, for example Washington DC, the HIV rate amongst Afro-American is as high as in South Africa, there is enough common ground to contemplate how to best practice can be applied in instances, where poverty, unemployment and other factors determine and driving the infection. For HOPE Cape Town it is an exciting new step to expand knowledge and to raise awareness for the plight of those living here around the Cape of Good Hope with the syndrome or being affected by it.
Having said that I am already amazed how dedicated the people in the US already known to us are driving this new adventure, with how many heart and courage they prepare for all the encounters and dedicate time and money to make it happen. It is a humbling experience knowing that you are not alone and that hearts and minds are open and willing to assist in whatever way possible. It once again also forces me to reflect, that all our doing in South Africa at the end is only possible if and when other people just join in.
I mentioned that in my presentation at the Ball of HOPE that not me, not even all my colleagues and HOPE Cape Town co-workers together could stem the tide of HIV if and when not an extended HOPE family would lent support in so many ways: money, prayers, good thoughts, network opportunities, goodwill… the list goes on and on.

So I am excited to experience the further expansion of the HOPE Cape Town family into the “land of the free” and I hope to free up lots of goodwill and support so that HOPE Cape Town can continue to support those infected and affected by HIV, AIDS, TB and related illnesses.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Cape Town USA, Reflection, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
5 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2017

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 13th, 2017
The Southern African - German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and HOPE Cape Town looking forward to celebrate this event with you - more info: admin@hopecapetown.com

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