God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

Meetings and preparations… – HOPE Cape Town in action…

Friday, 12. August – Full board of trustee meeting in the afternoon. The process of restructuring of HOPE Cape Town is continuing. Now, 5 years into the existence of the HOPE Cape Town Trust, the envisaged future which led to the founding of the trust kicks finally in. The trust is assuming more and more the function it was thought for: looking after the association’s money and to ensure the financial stability and future of HOPE Cape Town Association. It is great to see that what you have dreamt of years ago suddenly comes into reality. So decisions have to be made to make the synchronise trust and association in a way beneficial for the work and people we care for. Exciting times but with two additional trustees duly elected and an expansion of the advisory board the work will bear the necessary fruits.
This week the board of the association is meeting, time is running for the welcome of the first ever director for HOPE Cape Town. This year, the 10th anniversary of the association sees hard work to put into place everything for the well-being of the organisation for the next years to come. It shows also how dedicated the board members are trying to achieve the best possible for the future of our work.

In October, the custom Germany trip is due again and preparations are also on the way for talks, encounters, workshops and all the rest ahead. Frankfurt, Munich, Aachen, Trier, Berlin, Dresden, Koblenz and maybe Hamburg are in the moment on the map, logistic is sometimes difficult, but at the end it will all come together to promote HOPE Cape Town again in Germany.

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Reflection, , , , , , , , , , ,

29.10.2009 Do we need a theology of AIDS?

A talk and discussion with the Catholic Community of the University of Aachen. Do we need a theology of AIDS? Is HIV a sign of the times? – quite a handful of questions to discuss and it was a good evening. I could bounce my ideas about a theology of AIDS onto the students and at the end I guess we had a consent that we need a theology of HIV and AIDS. We also agreed that we have to network and start working on it as the people of God and trying to involve others in the church. It was also acknowledges how much we need a pastoral approach towards those within the church living with the virus, be it laity, clergy or religious.

It was in summary an amazing day with lots of good encounters – a real exchange of ideas, yes, a bridging of ideas, life circumstances, life realities. I am very grateful for this day and I am now looking forward to the days in Dresden. A total different set of encounters there, but also very important – getting a whole town to realise the reality of HIV and AIDS and to do some about it. I guess, I will sleep tonight very well.

Filed under: Networking, , , , , , , , , , ,

28.10.2009 450 youngsters…

A big surprise when I enter the Liebfrauen church in Bitburg for the first part of my day: talking and celebrating a prayer service with the students of the St. Willibrord Gymnasium. Round about 450 students are filling the church – I am not sure what I thought before but I was indeed surprised to see so many youngsters. Talk and service went well, we were able to connect and it seems, at least according to some teachers afterwards, the noise level was significant lower than in other services. The youngsters listened – a good experience and quite energizing for me. And energy I needed: After the service I met with 120 students of class 13 – the Abitur class.  At the “Haus der Jugend” we had time to discuss matters and to try to bridge the gap between South Africa and Germany. And again an audience to connect to – with good questions and I hope some good answers too.

Prevention, treatment, sexuality, sangomas, academic research, grass root projects, theology, church and condoms – there was not a lot untouched during the discussion – a lively debate.

After that I went with the principal and the teachers to the school to be formally welcomed in front of all teachers. The principal found some nice words of welcome and some of my very own teachers 30 years ago were still working – a pleasure to meet them again. 2 Jahrggangsstufen (standard 8 and standard 9) were singled out to have a discussion with me during the next two hours. Amazing to hear that some students came after the talk to pass on the regards of their parents who happened to be my friends and neigbors or classmates while I was myself a student of the school.

Then a nice drive to Aachen – changing briefly into Belgium to cut time and some more busy streets – and now I prepare for my evening talk about “HIV and AIDS as signs of the time” – with a discussion afterward with the students of the University of Aachen. As mentioned before the representatives of misereor, misso and others where not allowed to discuss this topic with me – and I still feel sorry for them: not talking to each other is the worst case scenario for us as Christians. It is indeed a shame, as I strongly believe that we all try to find ways and solutions serving mankind. And we do this with seriousness and we all deserve respect and a listening ear for our ideas. I hope and pray that this ignorance will cease soon and that we are able to engage in fruitful discussion. I am amazed to see who all is talking to me, also from the church side – but not those big Catholic development agencies. Are they are scared of competition? Or anything else I am not aware?

Be it as it is – I am looking forward to discuss a theology of HIV and AIDS with the students and to see, whether my very fragmented approach of theology, bounced on the minds of those students, can develop further. I continue to hope for the best…

Filed under: HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , , ,

26.10.09 new week, new ventures

While this post is coming alive, I am on my way to Frankfurt to meet with representatives of the AIDS action alliance to discuss possible involvement at the 2nd ecumenical church day in Munich in May 2010 and the World AIDS Conference in Vienna. Mid November we have our annual planing meeting with HOPE Cape Town and then most travel arrangements must be decided on. Monday Frankfurt, Tuesday/Wednesday Bitburg and Wednesday eve Aachen are the next stations of my travel – Bitburg with a talk @ the Lion’s Club and various encounters and talks with the students and teachers of the St. Willibrord Gymnasium regarding the work of HOPE Cape Town and obviously touches the general situation in South Africa.  In Aachen I will talk about “HIV and AIDS as sign of the times” and discuss a possible theology of HIV and AIDS for our days.  All encounters create the opportunity to function as a bridge between South Africa and Europe. This becomes more and more important. In my talks in Berlin I once again realised how necessary it is that information is floating freely and honestly between South Africa and Germany to foster the development of relationships between the two countries which are helpful to the people and not only to the ruling class. Sometimes the European or German partners are very quick with solutions to our problems between Cape Town and Johannesburg – forgetting the different way, people in the South experience their realities. South Africa has a lot still to learn and to develop, be it that politicians are team player and not lone warriors trying to gain as much as possible as long as they are in office. But also the cooperation between NGO’s and government needs improvement and also here, the working mechanism developed in Germany between those parties, could have an assisting factor for us at the bottom of Africa.

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

06.10.2009 event note 2…

Sometimes one is looking forward to something and then suddenly all is different. I was looking forward to the event I posted yesterday, giving a talk and then a discussion about HIV and AIDS as signs of the time with representatives of some church entities dealing with development issues like misereor, misso etc…. But I just got the note, that all of them don’t want to participate. So it will only be me and the audience on that very day and even if I don’t know any official reason for the non participation, I was given a hint I am still not the guy one is sitting with at the same table.

It is amazing to discover again and again that even the simple rule of engagement = talking with each other, finding common ground, being engaged with each other seems to be so difficult in my church. I must say that I do my work with great enthusiasm and –  obviously being touched by the all the pain and suffering and reality –  I am searching for ways, even theological ways to work through my experience and to find a theological answer assisting the people infected. And the main word is “searching”. I don’t have the answers, but I know that we only can find them in brainstorming together, all involved in this field.

Maybe I ask too much, maybe it is not normal to talk even to somebody not sharing his or her own conviction – I always learn from talking to such people. But maybe I am an exception and the rule is different. I must admit that it sometimes frustrates me when there is no dialogue because it is refused one sided. It is a pity and chance has been not used to understand each other. Some years ago I would have been frustrated about such a behavior but that phase in my life is gone. I cannot change other people, I only can change myself. So whomever I will talk to in Aachen, it will be good and meaningful. Therefore:

I am still  looking forward to engage with the students in Aachen and hope that we can produces new thoughts, exciting visions for a topic so serious like HIV and AIDS.

Filed under: Networking, Reflection, , , , , , , , ,

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