God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

HOPE Cape Town USA

Since last year, HOPE Cape Town in South Africa has a sister organisation in the USA, registered and recognized as a non-profit entity. Last Saturday the board of HOPE Cape Town USA finalized the mission and vision statement which reads as follows:

 

HOPE Cape Town USA

Background

HCT USA understands that in a rapidly globalizing world a life-threatening health pandemic such as HIV/AIDS has no borders and can easily spread from one continent to another; and understands that root causes of vulnerability and marginalization are similar throughout the world, and connects people in both USA and South Africa. It also understands the danger of resistance to HIV/AIDS as well as related conditions such as tuberculosis, as experienced in southern Africa.

As a result, HCT USA believes there is tremendous value in linking with Hope Cape Town in South Africa as well as other national and international civil society organizations to learn and exchange best practice, expertise and create synergies in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment among marginalized segments of populations.

Also, HCT USA recognizes that behaviour change reducing risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS is in great part a result of change in social norms in which education plays a large role. Focusing on changing social norms and education will reduce the effects of misinformation and stigma and help create a more accepting environment, and result in an increase demand and supply for, as well as access to and use of available treatment among the most vulnerable and marginalized.

Vision

HOPE Cape Town USA strives to improve the quality of life of vulnerable and marginalized children, youth and families affected by HIV/AIDS, and related illnesses, and help them to reach their own full potential.

Mission

HOPE Cape Town USA’s (HCT USA) mission is to assist people living with HIV, AIDS and related illnesses in the USA and South Africa.

HCT USA’s aim is to support the ongoing work of HOPE Cape Town in South Africa, reduce the spread of HIV among vulnerable and marginalized children and youth in USA and support those living with HIV.

This mission is realised by the following means

  • Advocate, fundraise and support HOPE Cape Town programs in South Africa
  • Build a body of data to understand needs, challenges and interconnections of children,
    youth and families living with HIV, AIDS or related illnesses in South Africa and USA
  • support vulnerable and marginalized children, youth and families in the USA, beginning in the Dallas/Fort Worth (Tx) area
  • Collaborate with other NGO’s in the fields to create synergies and expertise and
    interconnect globally with the aim to learn, share and optimize programs
  • Disseminate correct information, reduce misconceptions about the pandemic and so
    eliminate discrimination and create access to appropriate info on the syndrome, prevention and treatment options.
  • Change behaviour to reduce risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS by focusing on changing social
    norms and education, and reduce the effects of misinformation and stigma and help create a more accepting environment
  • Increase demand and supply for, as well as access to and use of available treatment among
    the most vulnerable and marginalized.

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

Pentecost and Ramadan in exhausting times

 

 

 

 

 
Let’s be honest: our times are overwhelming in the moment – it is tiring to learn every day new scandals about our government, president and ministers and associates in South Africa. It is causing fatigue to see every day tweets and news from the US American president whose self-absorption trumps all his predecessors, adding to the complication of international politics. It is simply too much to watch the news and learn about new horrors of terror, killing sprees and war in our global village. And closing the circle and coming back to South Africa it simply creates sadness and incomprehension to read constantly about all the rapes and murders in a society having lost completely the moral compass.
“Enough is enough” one would like to shout and close eyes and ears to withdraw from all those stories, yearning for times of a “normal” life whatever it means for each and everybody of us.
Feeling helpless in the chaos of our times might be a normal reaction, but maybe such times remind us how important it is to know who we are and what we stand for. Maybe such times bring us closer together with those, who care, with those who mind more than their own business. Intact families and knowing the own values also helps as does speaking truth to power. Using whatever means one has to encourage each other and simply to do good, to do what has to be done and being a living example for others.
It is indeed difficult especially in South Africa to do so – the narratives of colored pain and historical entitlement versus prescribed guilt creates a sensitivity which is in danger to be the base for new injustices and for the time being complicates the ability to face all the challenges of life in our times.
We Christians celebrate Pentecost today – we believe that the divine spirit opens new doors and let people of different languages and faith understand each other. It is a reminder that our lives meant to be full of love, hope as well as tolerance and respect for each other. Pentecost opens a new dimension of faith being a tool to understand each other – it contrasts so greatly from those using faith as a tool of destruction or hiding place for their insults on the divine. Our brothers and sisters of Muslim faith celebrating Ramadan – a month of reflection and devotion to a God of Mercy. We should never forget in these trying times there is faith as a source of encouragement and rooting ourselves to withstand whatever is thrown at us. And not only to withstand, but to change and alter to the positive. The true meaning of faith: a source of hope…

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Corrective rape and murder

Lerato Moloi from Soweto / South Africa seems to be the latest victim of the so-called “corrective rape” , defined as a hate crime in which one or more people are raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The word “murder” does not need any further explanation. An explanation is indeed needed why South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world – including “corrective rape” used to “cure” lesbian women of their homosexuality.
It seems that in a country having lost the moral compass and moral leadership a longer time ago the ugly head of homophobia trends against one of the most advanced constitutions in recent history.
Added to this is surely also the message of religious institutions labeling same-sex love as not natural or intrinsic evil. Evangelical Christian Talibans from the USA adding the word “un-African” to this toxic mix and at the end people are hurt or die because they just live out their true identity.
It is time to stand up, as a society, as a church, as an individual and to get vocal against hate crimes, against violence specifically in connection with gender identity or sexual orientation.
A democratic society lives from the baseline that all its people have the rights stipulated in the constitution and that no ideology, no faith, no own opinion gives the right to violently “correct’ or “kill” the life, the lifestyle, the love, the commitment of the fellow neighbor. Where ever it happens we have collectively stand up, defend and at best prevent such incidents.
This is indeed also a call towards the police and courts in South Africa to act with decisiveness and not to delay or even shame those who fall victims to such horrendous crimes.
I am grateful to the Catholic Jesuit Institute – belonging to my church – that they are not silent on the crisis unfolding for our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters and all the vulnerable women and children falling victim to this crisis. Please read their statement here:

Press-statement: South Africas gender based violence-crisis/

Such topics need a presence in the media – here another recent article on the topic:

Corrective-rape-The-homophobic-fallout-of-post-apartheid-South-Africa

 

 

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

A plastic bag with blood

Driving up the West-coast Road and listening to the news my thoughts kept swirling around one of the news reporting of the murder of 4 year-old Iyapha Yamile from Khayelitsha, found in a plastic bag close to her home early Monday morning. The reporter covering the case reported further of four suspects aged between 20 and 30 years old being arrested under the suspicion of this murder. I try to imagine what a person or a group of people could drive to murder a 4-year-old child – somehow it seems to me that the young age of the victim symbolizes how  sick society has become where murder or attempted murder is part of the daily local news.

The four-year old is only one of so many babies and children being killed and murdered on a weekly base – and for me, this mirrors the state of affair this country is in in the moment. If all the failed politics does not wake us up on the seriousness of trouble South Africa is in, the amount of murder, killings for gain or political reasons, the thousand of rapes and the destitute of people trying to make a living through crime should give us the wake up call we need to listen to.

We are living in a sick and hurt society – and what is needed are not revolutions or leaders still in combat mode and struggle mood but those who are ethical and concerned to heal the divide, to acknowledge the hurt, to see the disadvantaged, to listen to those feeling left behind and therefore to shine as an example of moral and ethical leadership.
If there is need for a radical economic transformation then it is radical in love, compassion and attention to detail, economic in a way, resources are used and the result must be the transformation of hearts and minds with an adequate education system and real chances to achieve a decent life without the tools of bribes, corruption or bullying through the ranks.

Let’s add honesty and leading by example – South Africa could then shine again as an example in the global village that there is a way to learn from the past, tackle the presence and achieve a future for all in an honest and human way.

 

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

The year of Oliver R Tambo

“We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together and where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity” – so Oliver R Tambo whose day of dying we commemorated yesterday.
I can’t help but envision how he would feel seeing the South Africa of today, thorn apart by his own party and by a multitude of problems, old ones – never resolved and new ones – partly created to create a smoke screen for corruption and looting of state resources. And even more he would pull his hair seeing the state of affair within the ANC being divided down to the core and abused by fractions for their own gain. Even if history repeats itself and liberation struggle heroes are very bad and incompetent politicians because the mindset required is simply to far apart: I am sure he would openly lament to situation and not shy away from tough decisions to rectify the situation.

In the German language you have a saying: “The fish rots from its head” and it seems this applies also for South Africa in the moment, where a President, whose retreat from office more and more people would like to see not only refuses to oblige but continues to damage the reputation of the nation in so many ways. We have turned from a miracle state to a junk state in such a short time.

And it filters through to all spheres of society and brings up again and again also the question of racism. There is no political leadership and no moral leadership in the country in need of healing and unity as envisioned by Tambo.
And it is this lack of leadership which in the end triggers all those responses not beneficial of creating the unity in diversity.
I am thinking of the reaction of some very stupid racist tweets which seems to be able to shake a whole nation – it shows how weak self-identity and self-pride of South Africans is in their still experienced hurt from the past.
It shows in the automatic thought of a white South African seeing a black South African in a big car contemplating which kind of corruption brought him this fancy mode of transportation.
It shows in the “mace” of screaming automatically “racist” if a white South African dares to criticize a black South African and the other way around.
It shows in the desperate narrative of the ANC being the sole cause for liberation and rewriting history in doing so.
It shows in the endless feeling of guilt of many white South Africans not being able and willing anymore to engage in a political discourse because “of the past”, some leaving the country.
It shows in the calls for revenge instead healing and the use of war terminology within our new democracy.
It shows in the frustration of millions of black South Africans seeing that only some have made the transition to wealth and many only by abusing “the system” to their advantage or by connections – and the result are service deliver protests on a massive scale.
The list could go on and on…

To  be “just South Africans, free and united in diversity”  it requires that the past is being recognized, but at the same time acknowledged that we cannot turn back the time for those having lived through all the suffering and injustices. We have to learn out of it and try to make up for it without creating new injustices and we have to make sure that it never happens again at our shores.

Education is the key for the next generation to prosper in a free and united South Africa in diversity – not free for all but all should be free and able to pursue their studies if their hard school work shows results warranting further education. If there is next to education another corner-stone for this vision of Tambo then it is the possibility to work – to pride oneself in sustaining the family with own efforts, be it in employment or entrepreneurial. The so-called  cadre deployment has shown how damaging it is to pass on jobs only because of skin color or party affiliation.

A lot has been achieved against all odds – and it has to be recognized and with it all the hard-working people within government who simply did their work and service should be commended for all efforts made. But the miracle of South Africa, people spoke about in 1994 needs now a new motivation, a new push, a renewed effort from all sides, a new sensibility, a new round of learning and listening to each other, a new faith and believe that we can make it together – just and righteously – and not repeating history in going down all the way as other countries have done after liberation. As politics speaks of a second phase of the transformation we need a second phase of the miracle.
Recognizing the hurt and betrayal of the past and finding the moral compass for the future – it’s a challenge of great magnitude but the only way to fill the shoes of OR Tambo’s vision in which “black and white shall live and work together and where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity.”

We need a rebirth of a leader who unites, who acts as a moral compass, who has the sensitivity of a Tambo or a Mandela to lead our beautiful nation into the land where skin color simply is no criteria anymore.

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

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
4 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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