God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Travel – the adventure of being challenged

Cape Town – Munich – Nuernberg – Berlin – Frankfurt – Somerville – Raleigh – Santa Fe are only some of the touch down points on my travel just started. And so often while sitting in the plane to reach the first destination there is always this nagging question of whom do I meet or does it work out if and when I meet strangers being the first time exposed to the HOPE Cape Town family and its work. In our days there can be added worries about lost luggage, missed connections due to delays, broken rental cars, not functioning credit cards – the list is endless and to summarize it: if you travel you most times leave your comfort zone and especially traveling alone it is a challenge to conquer new territory and the hearts of new people passing by – often seen only once in a lifetime and still be remembered.

Of course there is also that moment you meet friends and family again – highlights similar to those when it immediately clicks with new faces and time flies by and a new friend and / or ambassador of HOPE is found.

Travel, as we all know, also broadens the horizon of thinking – habits thought to be normal around the world are suddenly questioned, new ways of seeing the world and understanding the smaller and bigger universe of people and societies arise out of the many encounters. But this obviously makes one more lonely on the long-term: coming home means that the old ways of thinking are expected of you – it remains difficult to bring home the newly acquired values and skills and worlds of thoughts.

Traveling between Africa, Europe and America shows that the global village is still an abstract – we use the same words and we mean completely different things.  So the traveler becomes also a bridge to understand each other – a translator of the many meanings a word and a world can have on our planet.

And with this also an NGO like HOPE Cape Town is transformed into a catalyst for understanding and tolerance besides all the social work it is doing on the tip of Africa.

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Cape Town USA, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

And the question is…

South-Africa-question“What has this all to do with your work?” – I was asked recently discussing my blog and the person questioning me noticed the hardly not to notice political overtone of the last blog entries.
The answer is very simple: the  roller coaster on the political scene influences together with the water scare and now the polony  scandal the psyche of the people around us – the madness of state capture, the midnight changes in cabinet, the economic meltdown of South Africa in the last years resulted in more food-insecurity, in more unemployment, in more emptiness, in more loss of perspective as society. Students were encouraged to demand fee-free education which is in itself a non-sense, as there is nothing for free and the result of the reckless announcement of former President Jacob Zuma of the implementation of for said “free”   education means now in return an increase in VAT and again, the poor have to carry the biggest burden.
The unstable politics of the last years have taken a toll in all spheres of society and the divided ruling party, warming up to the party of the Gucci revolutionary “Commander in Chaos” with his only hardly veiled racism and power hunger balances the hope of a better future with the new president again negatively.

Add in the Western Province the serious threat of taps running dry – it all creates a situation where people are visibly on edge and less inclined to think rational and with measure.

HOPE Cape Town developed since years already a second arm of service which aims to assist those in need not only in the medical field, but also tries to remedy social woes of troubled South African families: poverty, lack of education, early childhood development and deficits in the framework of broken communities – read drugs, alcoholism, broken families, gangs, violence, corruption – has to be tackled simultaneously with any medical intervention to be successful.
This social services and assistance arm will be further developed – a part-time social worker and an occupational therapist are at the core of those developments working hand in hand with the doctors and the social system of the state – latter unfortunately a broken system with gaps hurting and killing children as a result.

The pain giving birth to a new and democratic South Africa with all the up’s and down’s are impacting in many practical terms the work of NGO’s like ours. Strikes and service delivery protests are damaging not only infrastructure but people engaged in those activities often forget their medication, their doctor’s appointment or even to put food on the table for the family. Corruption on all levels of society makes life more expensive for those anyhow struggling to make ends meet – and if delivery of state services are chaotic it is indeed difficult to get the papers needed for e.g. registering somebody into school.

And people who have nothing to lose anymore are obviously vulnerable to propaganda and ideology which wouldn’t make sense if one would have the time and the education to ponder what is often told from politicians in public.

The world is in the moment globally a bit in turmoil, and working in the non-profit part of it means to be vigilant and vocal for all those who have no voice or are somehow silenced by food parcels and t-shirts or a free meal – popular methods of those wanting to remain in power here in South Africa.

 

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

JuJu, you are wrong

“The time for reconciliation is over; now is the time for justice” , with those words commented Julius Malema, self-styled “commander-in-chief” of the EFF on the motion brought in by the very same party to allow expropriation land without compensation. Which would mean in consequence a change of the South African constitution to allow for it to happen.

The problem is not the question of redistribution of land which could obviously be achieved in great parts through the existing laws if and when the government systems would function without corruption and nepotism hindering progress on all levels of the administration. Obviously one can discuss how far in history one want to go to redress wrongs – whether the ethnic groups coming into the Southern tip of Africa long ago also took land and from whom – all valid and ethically important questions even including the repeated request of Mr Lakota in the national Parliament: “who are our people?” and from whom is the land taken and from whom not?

Where I see the wrong is in playing reconciliation against justice – because you simply can’t do it. Reconciliation needs justice and justice need reconciliation – the populist outcry of Julius Malema declaring reconciliation as ended is either a very calculated slogan to pour more oil in the emotional fire of land redistribution, or he has no sense for the realities of justice or reconciliation. Fact is, that such either/or is damaging the healing process of a troubled South Africa. It does not help to find a way to undo injustices without creating new wounds and new injustices which certainly will cause later generations to go through trouble nobody wants them to be burdened with.

Again: there is nothing wrong with redistribution of land, but a party which openly advocated land grabs Zimbabwean style is the least advocate for justice. There is a fine line between doing right in such a question – and yes, satisfying the masses makes it not easy to look at it with the reflection needed to give justice to the fact that all South Africans deserved land. The slogan “land without compensation” is like “white monopoly capital” and other slogans good for populist speeches, but bad for politics serving especially those in need and the poor. No action can take the pain away the older generations have endured in the past – and those are the once who should be part of finding a just solution – the loudest outcries I hear are from those too young to know the struggle first hand – and this cry sounds often shallow and more of entitlement then justice.

It is not easy to stand up against the mood of the so-called masses and emotions fired up on this question. One just be reminded how Mosiuoa Lekota was screamed down in Parliament. And it does not make it easier to do so while recognizing the depth of injustices committed during apartheid times. But a voice of reason never has a good time to speak out: Justice can only be done in the service of reconciliation – who says otherwise is not telling the truth to the people of South Africa.

Whatever we do in South Africa as South Africans – it must always be serving justice AND reconciliation – it is the only way to heal society.

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

No place for the faint-hearted

It is indeed difficult to describe the mood of people in South Africa in the moment – and it gets even more complicated if and when one looks at the Western Cape. The drought in the latter slowly but surely creeps into the minds and hearts of those until now still ignorant of “Day Zero”, the day the City of Cape Town runs out of water. The consequences are harsh: the prospect of queuing for 25 L of water every day triggers now runs on the shops to secure enough drinking water – since days it seems almost impossible to get the 5 L still water containers – as soon as the truck arrives the water supposed to be stocked is sold out. But it’s not only water – the hunt for water-less hand sanitizer and plastic containers adds to the dooms scenario experienced by the woken up shopper in our days. Social media is full of sort of advice how to save water and stories are told around the dinner table how to cut down shower water use to under 2 liter while catching the grey water for flushing the toilet. Amazing times for Cape Town.
Spiced and interlinked because bulk water supply is normally belonging to the national sphere of government is the chaos triggered by state capture and it’s related parliamentary inquiries, not to forget the not so smooth farewell of our President Jakob Zuma, who simply refuses to resign to the dismay of many in his own party. While the opposition party of the DA is aggregating itself in Cape Town and the EFF keeps abusing those in despair for the own political gains of their “commander in chaos” the overall picture one could get overlooking South Africa in total is that of a soap opera playing out in such an unbelievable way that the viewer would say this can’t be real. But it is – South Africa at its best and the mood, one is in, swings from despair to amusement, from “I can’t believe it” to “it only can get better”. People are either surrendered to whatever comes next or they are on edge – it is difficult to remain in a space in between.

In all this social, emotional and political turmoil one keeps working and wondering what’s next hitting the fan and making life somehow “more interesting”. No place for the faint-hearted..

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

Motherfu@#er – or summarizing an interesting year

Nobody can say 2017 was a boring or uneventful year – it does not matter where you live or work – we were all part of a developing global village story shaking the world to the core. Politically a constant fake news producer, self-styled ego-man, denialist on many fronts and womanizer was elected President of the United States and many people had to learn that between the big cities of the West and East coast are definitely not as progressive as the city dwellers – believing rather what they want to believe instead tackling the challenges and realities on the ground.
In Europe Germany stills waits for a new government to be formed while in Austria a populist youngster seems to be the savior of this country while in Poland and Hungary the right wingers demolish democratic advances and human rights achievements almost systematically. The British playing Brexit chess without knowing really where it will end and the EU searches its way through all the political pitfalls its encountered during the year.

On the African continent the looting of South Africa continued and the brazenness in the face of several court decisions and revelations about those captured by the Guptas only increased as if they would know that their time is running out. Zimbabwe got rid of uncle Bob after a shameless Grace pushed for power while in other African countries there are the usual suspects extending their welcome by changing laws and constitutions. The question of refugees from Africa to Europe continuous to be a matter of grave concern and indicates that problems are not solved but always pushed to the next big political meeting.

In the Roman-Catholic church the opposition against Pope Francis clearly tried to score points in ridiculous ways and the hardly hidden hurt vanity of one cardinal stood out as an example of unhappiness with the current way our church is steered – while Catholics as such are discovering the depth of faith in a new and exciting way – even if mercy is a concept known since the beginning of Christianity.

And all this is mirrored in the social media – where etiquette seems to vanish while emotions are running high. Lots of contributions are lacking respect or brain like this example which I choose to publish because it shows the consequence of having leaders steering those emotions, playing with the uneducated and their sentiments, leading by bad examples or supporting the wave of false or misleading information which results in a mixture of unreasonable demands, non-logical approaches, denial of realities and the fostering of ideologies we thought to have beaten long ago.

So there is undeniable a sort of chaos ruling the world in the moment – with leaders uneasy and seemingly battling to make sense and to come to conclusions beneficial for all.  Democracy seems to take some hits while social media and the change in technology and communication has completely changed the environment people are operating. And if you look to China, where they develop a tracking system for all citizens and plans to work with scores to give or take privileges like loans or traveling, it becomes blatant clear where the challenges for political systems will be found in the years to come.

All this said there is also the acknowledgment that all challenges are also opportunities. Opportunities to resist and grow, opportunities to re-evaluate and correct, to discuss and discern and to move on forging a way for more humanity, more human rights and liberties as well as dignity for everybody. So nothing is doomed or lost at all.

In this context the work of NGO’s and civil right groups becomes so more important to assist in achieving the for-said goals. They are rightly seen as a threat to governments leaning towards dictatorial behavior as seen in Egypt or Russia, let alone China. To support those NGO’s and to value their contribution to a better world remains important when we now go into the next year 2018. Good vetted non-governmental organizations with a proven track record are in the coming years the lifeline to fill and bridge the gaps of governmental work, civil society has to play a much bigger role and charity organizations will be much-needed to continue their work for those many falling through the cracks of organized societies.

So at the end it is a mixed review but not hopeless, it is full of challenges we will have to turn into opportunities – it is a starting pitch for 2018 which will make the work of all interested in humanity exciting, demanding and rewarding at the same time. May it be for as many as possible a blessed year and may the emotions express themselves in a way respecting each other.

 

 

 

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
6 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
16 days to go.

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