God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

HOPE Gala in Dresden and much more

Time again to pack and leave Cape Town for the annual event of the HOPE Gala in Dresden. And this year, it is indeed a special year, where the people of this lovely city pulled together for the Gala after having the devastating floods in spring and battling themselves to get back with their own life. It is with appreciation to note, that despite all the odds the Gala will be once again a festival of good thoughts, helpful hands and lots of fun and joy.
If you have not yet purchased your ticket – the website http://www.hopegala.de will bring you closer to join the event and meet with like-minded people. See you there – Viola Klein has surely with her team and the support of Saxonia Systems (who initiated the Gala), the HOPE Kapstadt Stiftung ( our German trust and the organizers) and all other sponsors (check the logos on the gala website) drawn a full house with the program and not to forget the after-show party. Thank you so much! How much work is going in such an event…

Before the HOPE Gala Dresden I will meet with students from my hometown of Bitburg and engage with them in a lively discussion about HIV and AIDS and what brings South Africa and Bitburg together. It is amazing how much support has come and is still coming from my hometown and I could not be more grateful about it. Another blessing for those, living with the virus here in South Africa.

Berlin and Munich are the other big cities to meet and greet sponsors, supporters and to attend the Festliche AIDS Gala of the German AIDS Foundation. They are such a strong partner for HOPE Cape Town and we wouldn’t be where we are without them. Another big thank you all working for this foundation.

New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the last stations of this trip – a renewed effort to get fundraising in the USA going. It is a tough one, but never give up is here the motto and with some goodwill we will be able to plant some small seeds of compassion on the other side of the ocean. Press your thumbs and if you know somebody in that area to approach – please let me know. I am delighted to meet new people.


Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Gala Dresden, Networking, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Arrival in Dresden

2010 Hope Gala 2

2010 Hope Gala 2 (Photo credit: pennstatelive)

After visiting my old school in Bitburg and talking to virtually hundreds of students a whole morning and a visit to my bishop in Trier we arrived in Dresden early this morning. It it so good to meet old friends again but there was little time for private talk as the HOPE Gala Dresden press conference was due. Great to see so many journalists and TV stations – young students of art had worked on two rhinos which can move by manpower, representatives of the various sponsors had their say why they support the HOPE Gala and I was asked to give a brief presentation on the work of HOPE Cape Town. I admit that the presentation was longer than planed but at the end all agreed that it was good to be reminded of the cause and its work done in South Africa. The new Kuratorium Deutschland of the HOPE Cape Town Trust was introduced by its new chairperson, Michael von Zitzewitz. So the network of supports is extended to include more parts of Germany. The new support group will meet tomorrow evening for their first official gathering and planing for the year ahead. Congratulations to Viola and Micki and Par X and all those working so hard to make it happen. And the first good news is in: We are sold out: the 800 tickets are gone.. Wow..

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Gala Dresden, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Visit in Bitburg – St. Willibrord Gymnasium

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Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Networking, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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