God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

Thanksgiving Day – some maybe unusual thoughts

A day of joy and celebration with family and close friends – Thanksgiving Day is a big day in the USA and the Macy’s driven parade in New York a classical destination for locals and tourists alike. Not sure though that this year Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with an open heart by all invited to do so. Trumps’ America does not give a lot of reasons to celebrate – the swan song of an old white and racist macho era embodied in this president hurts many – “ars moriendi”, the art of dying is celebrated by him in the most cruel way possible.
But maybe exactly this is to celebrate – that the ugly face of a time where racism was silently tolerated or even promoted; a time where sexism and indecent behaviour or rightfully named sexual misconduct was overseen and ignored at will has been unmasked and from the abuse scandal in the Roman-Catholic Church to those in Hollywood are laid bare open for all to see. And all the denial takes a last stand represented by this white womaniser in the Oval Office – but even for him – at the end – thanks to social media – no place to hide anymore.

There is power in the digital revolution – giving the man on the street new weapons with recordings via cellphones and other devices.  Power to the people and power by the people – the slogan has taken on a new meaning in our age and time. But the discussion in the USA about Russian meddling into the last election, the fake news all over the world show the danger which always goes with advances in the hand of human mankind.

Here in Africa we celebrate the advent of a new era for Zimbabwe – Uncle Bob has finally resigned and also here: at the end there is no hiding anymore. And listening to all the enquiries taking place currently in the South African parliament  – screen shots of whats-app messages play a role and the time where politicians could act at will without being caught is getting less and less. Well, I am not blind to the fact that there is still lots under the radar, but it is getting more difficult to avoid public scrutiny and keep dirty little secrets behind a cloud of power. In South Africa the Guptas and Zumas are learning it in the moment the hard way…

This is indeed – even counting all the dangers coming with it – a reason to celebrate and enjoy thanksgiving day this year with our US American brothers and sisters. To celebrate the end of a chapter in history and the advent of a new era which will change the way we live, we think, we organise us and we do politics. I am sure that there is lots still to come which we haven’t even anticipated when we started the digital revolution. Living in such times of upheaval is a blessing as it opens up new opportunities to grow as a person, as a faith community and as a society. True, there are also sacrifices to make – but you can’t have light without shadow.

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

Know your history

Travel time is not only time to connect with people, but the seemingly endless time in a plane is also an excellent time to read – to be able to undisturbed venture into interesting fields of curiosity as well as beefing up knowledge on the working environment. As I live in South Africa, it is indeed interesting to dig into the history of this magnificent country but also the so-called heroes of the struggle, so often quoted at political or social events, at demonstrations and public outbursts of frustrations and lack of service delivery.
Especially students love to quote their heroes like Steve Biko or Chris Hani; often they even see themselves as the qualified successors of those being killed during the struggle or directly thereafter in the chaos before the first democratic elections.
Reading about the two just mentioned I realize how much our youth in South Africa would be able to learn from them, if and when they would take the time out to study them – to really understand their struggle credentials and their thoughts about a South Africa, free of racism, corruption and nepotism – and free of the entitlement seemingly earned as a result of often a false historical narrative of the ruling party – leaving out the essence of real struggle – the internal struggle, the dreams and aspirations hard-worked for in times of hardship and discrimination.

How much easier would be to deal with questions of land reform, of free education, of racism and obviously with it on all other pressing issues –  if before using the buzzword decolonization and so-called radical economic transformation a part of shown energy would focus on learning from the struggle heroes how to seriously deal with the injustices of the past. But this would mean also to open up to the part of the struggle history which isn’t pretty but ugly and which does not fit into the narrative of some veterans.

The example of Zimbabwe and its struggle to rid itself from uncle Bob shows how difficult it is to maneuver through complicated matters if one does not honestly face the truth and reality of the presence and the past. The nepotism and corruption within the South African political elite shows what all can go wrong if one bends and distorts history and sell it to the next generation as the truth. It seems no society is willing to learn on the long run – it’s a pity because at the end it betrays the revolution and liberation people fought hard for and a lot ultimately died for. And it betrays those hoping for a better life now, promised again and again and often failing to appear in their lifetimes.

And one does not need to sit in an plane to have time to read – the libraries established all over the country give enough material and any quiet summer night will do to read and learn – for the better good of our society. And a knowledgeable society becomes automatically also a more healthy society – and that is what we all should strive for – healthy physically and mentally which is inter-connected as we all know.

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

Emotions

“Emotion is any conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity and a high degree of pleasure or displeasure. Scientific discourse has drifted to other meanings and there is no consensus on a definition. Emotion is often intertwined with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation” – so Wikipedia.

Creating emotions and connecting emotionally is a well know concept when it comes to fundraising, but seldom it is spoken about in a broader context and reflected in the worlds of non-profit organisations. Especially when it comes to not so pleasant forms of emotions like let’s say jealousy this is the case. Hidden behind formal questions and considerations the poison of jealousy is a formidable enemy of cooperation between non-governmental organisation – jealousy regarding fundraising results or publicity is hardly spoken about but whispered behind the backs of those involved. Jealously can destroy great work done and prevent developments needed to be up to the standard needed serving the purpose of an organisation.
Another emotion not often spoken about in our circles is the tension between humbleness and ego-trips and the mixture of those two – standing in the lime-light and being thanked at every occasion can be like a drug taken and not being missed any more.

Being in Dresden to be part of the HOPE Gala for the 12th time I am so much aware that as the chair of an organisation like HOPE Cape Town I depend solely on the goodness of other people to be able to fulfil my role in this NGO. It humbles me – again an emotion – to see how many people dedicate time and money, prayer and good thoughts to allow me to represent and lead this organisation. Without the volunteer to drive a so-called VIP, – without the cleaners making sure that the venue is clean for the show, without the chefs preparing meals for the after show party – without those working hard behind the scene to make it happen – without all those running around – HOPE Cape Town would not be what it is. Gratefulness is the feeling here to mention, a deep gratitude to all involved.

Humans are complex and so is their emotional household. We should be always aware of what it is what carries me as a person – we should always honestly assess our feelings and see what makes us tick. Honest reflection is the key.

Only when we reflect with honesty we acknowledge us and others in all the complexity we live as human beings trying to serve human mankind and making this world a better place for all.

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

Bridging continents

Fr Wim Lindeque, HOPE Goodwill Ambassador Katlego Maboe , Fr Stefan Hippler with Children of the Manenberg Afterschool Development Centre, a partner organization of HOPE Cape Town in Manenberg.

Preparing for my next trip starting in 2 days to Europe I also have to see to the talks I will give, the PowerPoint I will design to bolster the words spoken and to give color and pictures supporting the imagination of those listening and interested to know more about the work of HOPE Cape Town. The longer I am in this sort of business to connect different worlds I realize how difficult it has become to bring one world to another and to make sure, words are understood in the sense they are intended.

Yes, we speak the same language, we use the same words, but the framework of thinking, the weight of education and upbringing, the scenarios of real life experience seems sometimes so far away from the life presented in a talk or workshop.
How to bring the despair of a family living under the poverty line to somebody who has never experienced hunger?
How to bring the cold and the wet of a Cape Town winter day in Blikkiesdorp into the warm German homes?
How to explain the plight of not knowing what the day will bring in the Cape Flats and who will lie shot death in the crossfire of the gangs later that day in the dark morgue of Cape Town?
How to balance the hopelessness of so many South Africans against the possibilities and the beauty of a country rich on resources but suffering under a corruption so obvious that it hurts – with no European logic left to explain that people don’t rise up and stop allowing the abuse of those capturing the state entities.

Blikkiesdorp – semi-permanent housing close to the airport

Besides the difficulties to bring the world of Africa to Europe – or even the USA – there is also the way to fund-raise a complete different one. Perception how to assist and help is different in Europe compared with Africa – and once again completely different in the USA. So whatever you do, one has to reflect and think clearly who are the people one wants to address and how to creep in their minds and hearts and connect the dots so far away from each other.

Being a small organization in Africa, but connected with two other continents is a constant challenge – times of pure charity for those in far away Africa as I have known in in my childhood are gone – and I guess this is good like it is.
Solidarity, love of the neighbor and the stranger as requested by most religions need in our days strangely lots of translation work – the global village has quite some gaps to fill to make the connection a solid and understandable one.

But be it as it is – the challenge is on for me for the next 4 weeks to bring Blikkiesdorp, Tygerberg Children’s Hospital and it’s people, family and kids and also those of our partners in Manenberg and Delft to all those who are willing to listen, to learn and to connect – in different ways, with different possibilities – but at the end as a blessing for all being touched by the work of HOPE Cape Town.

 

Munich – Presentation to the Wirtschaftsbeirat of Bavaria

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

Prayers needed! Really?

It seems that prayers are in high demand in our days:
In South Africa ANC representatives are making the round in churches and asking for prayers to get their house in order.
In the USA politicians are praying for the victims of Las Vegas and on Facebook and social media the call for prayers is all over, from Orlando to Paris and now back in the USA we are called to pray again. Prayers are needed indeed when one sees the state of affairs in many parts of the world, when one notices the despair of people and the craziness of terror and politics and sometimes it seems terror and politics are exchangeable in the sense that people are hurt, lives cut short and common sense buried.

Maybe it is time to mention that prayers without the appropriate action will fail to do anything good except comforting those trying to  escape responsibility. Contemplation and action, prayer and deeds are interlinked as human mankind is interlinked in the spirit of Ubuntu. Sending good thoughts only work when there is the reflection what I can do to change a situation.
We could pray for hours for the well-being of the ANC here in South Africa – as long as those in charge allow for corruption, state-capture and stealing in their own midst without acting against the perpetrators no prayer will heal this situation. We can pray for hours for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting but as long as those in charge in the USA refuse to take action against the gun lobby being able to do business as usual those prayers are empty and the expression of sympathies a blunt lie.

And it is not only those who are in office – those who have elected people into office are equally guilty if they only pray instead of making sure that those voted in power are doing their work correctly and making responsible decisions. No one, not even the ANC in South Africa has a privilege to be in power – and Jesus might come earlier than expected to Mr Zuma (my South African friends will know…)  – all those in higher offices are there for a time and with a responsibility. And in a democracy the power lies with the people.

Prayer can bolster this responsibility, prayer is making this responsibility more visible as it connects to the divine, to the source of humanity and to the foundation of why we have rules and regulations and a political and social system with certain values and ethics. It is not a fix for failures, the divine does not pop in to plaster over ignorance. But prayer can be the beginning of redemption and turning around a situation. It is certainly as a connection to all beginnings a means to reflect, if necessary repent and try to do better.
Let’s hope that is meant when politicians ask for prayers or pray themselves in the public space and in front of TV cameras. And that people asking for prayers on social media also turn into themselves to look where their responsibility lies besides sharing a call for prayers.

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

13th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 27th, 2018
10 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
5 months to go.

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