God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

State-capture and NGO work

Following the news about all Zuma and Gupta and state-capture, about Gigaba, Muthambi, Dlamini, Zwane and all the others so often for the wrong reason in the news the debate often ends with the bleak outlook on economics – the downgrades and the failure to attract investment and to stimulate growth.

What remains unreported and not even considered is the impact, the failure and outright criminal action of those in power have on the NGO sector of South Africa. The country is meanwhile so in the bad books of the global village, that even the non-profit and charity sector starts to feel the consequences as more and more funder and donor refuse to support a corrupt South Africa.  Justified or not, it has to be noted that those organizations, which fill so often the gap and bridge the incapacity and incompetence of governmental institution are harmed in the same way like their honest for -profit economical siblings.

The groundwork for this disastrous development was laid the day, South Africa joined BRICS and decided not to be a “developing” country anymore – naturally it cut essential funding from overseas to the point that even the European Union re-considered their contribution towards the development of the country in their newest budget. With all the state-capture, the obvious incompetence and dishonesty of some ministers and the inability of self-correction the situation is worsening as we speak – South Africa, the beacon of hope and Madiba’s dream of a rainbow nation as an example of reconciliation turned into a black sheep, a symbol of outright corruption and failed politics.

Obviously one can argue that assuming the way of South Africa would be trouble-free was an illusion from the beginning – and the argument is certainly valid. But the way it turns out now, the depth of state-capture with all its consequences and the unwillingness or impotence of the ruling party to correct this path of (self-) destruction destroys the  very fabric South Africa needs to develop peacefully and with equality for all its citizens. In this situation NGO’s are the very glue which can hold such a social  fabric even if government fails its people once in a while, but for being able to do so, they need resources and the goodwill of people from all walks of life – especially those who can financially and materially contribute to the essential work of those Non-profits.

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

Unstable situation

South Africa is in turmoil – not only statistics proof that crime is up and corruption a daily almost accepted occurrence. It seems that the country is going backwards, the dream of a rainbow nation is fading away and an ANC being a shadow of its former glory seems determined to let No 1, as President Zuma is often called ruin the country to junk status. The rot goes deep and the in-fights between treasury and president, the state capture through all the Gupta’s and other presidential friends, the formation of a new council giving Zuma more weight determining the future of SOE’s in South Africa – this all influences obviously also the work of NGO’s and other entities in the country. Focus is on the political and social high drama, money is spend on campaigns and court proceedings to get to the truthful facts and it seems that our society in need of healing is completely neglected in this battle of the powers in charge of running the country, the provinces, districts  and the municipalities. Who has thought that the local municipal elections help to clear the field – it seems the opposite: the fight for power and money has intensified and more questions are added every day instead of being satisfactory answered and then moved forward. The old saying that freedom fighters are bad politicians is proven correct again and history repeats itself in so many ways.
South Africa, as a BRICS state is also not anymore considered by many other countries as a purely “developing country”  which makes the trouble for an NGO even worse as fundraising becomes more difficult on an international platform.
There are many who seems to believe South Africa is doomed like so many other countries, others believe that this country will turn the tide soon and will rise like the phoenix out of the ashes. Whatever it may be – people at the bottom of society are continue to suffer now, the lack of proper education makes it easy for those in power to influence and manipulate the masses. The service deliver protests and the instability within police and state security, seemingly a playground for those in power allow for justice delayed in many cases for years.

This all makes it so much more important that the initiatives of churches, NGO’s and other non – governmental institutes are able to do their work and to assist in the daily life of those not able to defend themselves or having a future without help from outside their homes and families. Health and education are two pillars to be strengthened if South Africa wants to overcome this period of chaos. HOPE Cape Town is only one of many NGO’s trying to  aid in those fields and will remain steadfast in its approach to add to the healing of a wounded country – small contributions but many drops will fill finally the ocean – so another saying.

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

Leaving Rio de Janeiro

Wow, what for a city and after Salvador da Bahia and other Brazilian places one gets really in the mood of Samba and a seemingly easy lifestyle. The visit in the first favela settlement on the mountain of “providencia” in Rio reminded us going into the “slum” that life conditions can be harsh. Like everywhere broken promises of politicians, false or disappointed hopes of a better life and an unbelievable strong sense for religion partnering the life of those at the margins of society. And amazing for me as a priest the combination of old African religion and Christianity – syncretism in the highest form but seemingly tolerated in society or at least ignored by those preaching the gospel in various official churches as we know them around the world. A real rainbow nation and if South Africa can learn from Brazil as a BRICS country then it is to live and let live the different cultures and traditions in a way worth a rainbow nation. And on the HIV/AIDS front Brazil learned quick that antiretrovirals are the better option than the African potato and that a network of care and the production and service delivery for all affected and infected including proper medication is a must. Of course, there are also similarities – time management, improvisation on the highest level with often a good result, crime in various cities, corruption on all levels of society, a brutal gap between rich and poor – there is room for joined ventures which would benefit both countries. For me the visit was a real enrichment – the various encounters will stay with me and I know already that this will not be the last visit in this huge country. Travelling the world means to learn a lot – but often there is nobody home who wants to listen to what one has experienced. We are all to busy with our own affairs. How much do I wish that all would have the opportunity to see what I have seen alone in the last 7 days. But that remains a dream – but with social media like Facebook and others one can at least share a glimpse of the colourful reality of the world around us and take this as a starting point for more attentive discussion how other countries manage their affairs and how we in South Africa can benefit from it.

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

Any difference between South Africa and the USA?

Food bank Somerville NJNew York  – a buzzing city which never sleeps and lots of people living obviously on the streets and in extreme poverty. The discrepancy between rich and poor is certainly as extreme as in South Africa.
Somerville – visit at one of the three food banks in the county. 850 people are regulars at this food bank, which is supported by church communities and private supporters. My question, whether they get expired food from the big supermarket chains is denied. The fear to be brought to court when somebody gets sick from expired food overrides any charity attempt.
I meet two women, mother and daughter who are living in their car: house gone, job gone – car and food bank keeps them going, at least they have a place to stay in the bitter cold winter nights of New Jersey.
The food bank is placed within an industrial zone – far away from the city center and I guess it’s too far for a lot of needy people. The city has no interest to have it close by – poverty should not be seen in the city center.
Watching TV in the evening – FOX news and others. The way, politics is presented and commented leaves me speechless. I am used to a lot of nonsense in South African politics – but the stupidity of comments on American TV leaves me often speechless. These are no news, that is indoctrination – Gupta news on a well advanced level. It is scary to think that something like this will emerge on that scale also in South Africa.

It seems to me, that the US and South Africa are not that far away on certain levels. The incomprehensible way of politics, the gap between rich and poor, the impact of poverty and unemployment on society, violence of all sorts. The USA is a country which combines first and third world as South Africa does – it is interesting that we perceive one as a world power and the other as an emerging country. How relative is our judgement?
Speaking to people on the ground and in the social services I realized how much we can share and work on together to create a better world for all, not for only those more fortune. And when it comes to HIV and AIDS, some areas of the US and some populations are as in the same bad shape as South Africa. It is amazing that we in South Africa achieved so much when it comes to treatment due to the assistance of the USA, a country which seems to struggle to get their own people on adequate treatment.

Well, of course they are major differences between the USA and South Africa. But at a closer look there are much more similarities and common ground then we usually think. This common ground gives chance to close cooperation and joint ventures looking eye to eye. Any attitude on any side would be wrong.

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

980 Millionen

English: BRICS counties. BRICS - Brazil, Russi...

English: BRICS counties. BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, People’s Republic of China, South Africa. Português: As Potências regionais. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

980 million Euro – that was more or less the contribution of the EU to South Africa as special development money in the last budget circle. And when I traveled to Brussels last month, the question was, how much the European Union might give in the new budget. There are countries like Germany advocating for zero Euro. Simply because South Africa falls short the markers set by the World Bank for being categorized a developing country. Being a preferred partner for the EU also doesn’t help nor does joining the BRICS countries. Corruption and attitude of some representatives of the political sector also doesn’t help a lot.

This money is not even one percent of the South African annual budget, but still: it was used in the past to try new approaches, it was the money used for going new ways of governance, health care, development of democracy and much more which never otherwise would be part of the normal budget provided by government. On the request of the South African Representation to the EU I tried to lobby for a new round of developing money as I believe that South Africa, stripped of attitude and corruption is in urgent need of assistance from outside. Go to the Eastern Cape and I visited Sterkspruit last year deep into the eastern part of the fairest Cape – and you feel beamed back into a third world country. And government and NGO’s depend on the goodwill of others – putting aside political talk about an “African Renaissance” and “new colonial treads” – even in the sector of HIV and AIDS we would not have come that far without the assistance of the Global AIDS Fund. So politicians are asked to set aside ideology or party politics and concentrate to better the life of the people. And to establish a good governance to be entrusted with resources from those who are able to donate and give.

980 million Euro – it is for sure that there will be not that amount of money given again for the new budget circle. But lets lobby that there is more than zero – European Embassies are called to look realistically at South Africa and report back honestly about the situation where still people starving, living under the minimum to sustain their lives, where housing, clean water, health are not accessible for all.  And the NGO sector also needs still that kind of support even if most of the money is anyhow given to government, some is essential for the work of civil society organizations and NPO’s.

There is no decision yet, but there remains hope that the EU will consider South Africa as what it is: a country which came a long way but is still not able to run its affairs without assistance from partners outside.

Filed under: Politics and Society, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

13th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 27th, 2018
10 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
5 months to go.

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