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, , , , , , , , ,

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, ,

One of those days…

Preparing for my flight to Europe and the airline already now know that there will be a more than 4 hour delay. Nevertheless they insist of being at the airport and check in at the normal prescribed time. Not really enhancing the mood.
Following the news also does not help – the Khashoggi case seems to develop slow but steady – to imagine that in a NATO country an embassy is used to kill a journalist and then cut him in pieces is not only appalling but it was one of the things I could not imagine – like so many developments in our current world affairs. USA, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Italy – the amount of countries which seemingly fall into the trap of authoritarian rule or xenophobic attitude  – weakening democracy and darkening the horizon of the new dawn of freedom, liberty, human rights and decency among countries most of us have had in the beginning of the millennium – seems to be growing.
Social media and modern technology hailed to bring people together are dividing and causing anxiety on all fronts of societies – in the moment one has the impression that the negative effects of possibilities to connect are clearly winning the day. And so do all those politicians with simple populist answers knowing perfectly well that disaster is looming when they gather enough followers. Populism is self-destructive – history has proven it over and over again.  And social media are weapons of choice for trapping those who are vulnerable to propaganda and easy solutions.

Maybe that is the reason why I believe that beaming people via SKYPE and conference call and Whatsapp are not enough to really engage with each other. I prefer the surely more expensive and time-consuming way of meeting the people, share some time with them and discuss matters relevant in person.  It is then and there that real conversation is happening – encounter in the real sense of the world. And if you can’t hide behind a slogan or a screen or a party or an ideology but one is looking into the eyes of the person sitting opposite – real communication, real problem solving is happening – real understanding is given birth.

I am convinced we have to stop being computer screen warriors and instead really engaging with the world. Clicking “like”or any other emoji might give a feeling of having done your bit – but this is self-deception and fooling oneself. It is also the only way that we can stem the non-sense of populism, bad right-wing politics  and – in the case of the USA – anti-academic attitude like denying climate change. Otherwise we are playing with our future – but maybe Mother Earth is happy to continue to exist without human beings – maybe it is not a great loss if the human race is failing and fading away.

Be it as it be – I am preparing for flying out today and I am looking forward to meet all those in the next days and weeks who are part of the HOPE Cape Town family or interested to know about it and maybe join those spreading hope and engaging with real people. Real people, who want to live with dignity striving for decent prosperity and who want to create a future for the next generation to come.

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

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

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

Ball of HOPE 2019

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 18th, 2019
62 days to go.

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