God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

“The Nex” Theology

The Nex - Blessings ceremony
Blessing Ceremony

People of faith think in religious terms, their whole life makes sense in the light of a belief system giving meaning to what they do and how they see life in general. It does not mean to prescribe this to all involved, but it serves as an explanation for motivation, reflected on a deeper personal level. This is a first draft, a first attempt to reflect on the theological meaning of building a campus in Delft / South Africa.

Theological Consideration – first thoughts…

Normally Catholic priests in South Africa are bound to parish life, leading under the authority of a Bishop the faithful of a prescribed territorial area in prayer, worship and charity for those in need.

Running a foundation during the week and only attending to the spiritual needs on a weekend as a supply priest before retirement is already different and for some not fitting the picture of a priest. Building a campus in a gang and crime ridden area is then certainly not their first priestly task and would be seen as extra-ordinary, rather flamboyant in church terms.

And still, I believe there is merit to look with a theological and pastoral eye exactly on this campus comprising of buildings serving in the following areas: Health, Early Childhood Development, Social Services, Youth, Entrepreneurial Skills Development and Vocational Training. Not to forget community uplifting, understanding of democracy and the value of human life and human dignity.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
Genesis 1:31

Having worked in the Delft area since more than a decade Delft mirrors all the shortcomings of the new South Africa, it showcases the lost hopes, the cut-short aspirations, the undervalue of life as such, latent racism and not a lot of those living there would on a daily basis and in their daily life agree, that all is “very good”. Churches of different kinds are spread all over Delft and often for some hours they beam those attending gatherings into a different sphere trying to instil hope for the days to come.

Sermons can be a good tool to inspire but I feel that theology and bible are more than source for fiery sermons, theology – the word of God – must trickle down much more than just in words and charity, it must be felt and walked the talk by development and action on the ground. The word of God must be felt in the trenches of daily life experience for those left out here in South Africa after more than 30 years living in the promised land called the New South Africa.

Theology can also not only be confined in the framework of parishes, formation seminars, theological faculties and church structures – it must cover that “God looked over all he had made” – so there should be room for more than church structures allowing the word “catholic” – meaning covering the whole – universal to be put into action.

Theology must also be able to be applied to what we do and how we act – it should be able to make sense and to bring a greater meaning to our action – it is part of a circle of action – interpretation – encouragement and out of this more, different but definitely better or more appropriate action again before the circle starts anew. At the same time there is no need for religion to capture what is done. There will be different motivations, different ethos and different religious affiliation and convictions of those working together on a project like “The Nex”.  There will be different ways to describe God or the reason for creation, there will be different theologies – and if such a project fosters more dialogue amongst those different pictures without becoming a competition there is another ecumenical and inter-religious meaning in what we do. “The Nex” becomes a place where unspoken different religions encounter each other in a practical way for the better good of people. The blessings ceremony for The Nex – Indawo Yethu  gave witness to intention and prayers when a Catholic priest, a Rabbi, an Imam and a Sangoma not only spoke but brought the blessings onto the new venture.

In the Catholic Church we talk about the “option for the poor” – and again here we are: How easy is it, to establish oneself as an NGO in one of the safe areas instead of going there, where it hurts, where things will on a long run not only run smoothly but hurtles will be encountered, failures will happen and the hardship of life will be mirrored and shared within this project as people experience it themselves every day. Walking together and staying together even if it hurts at times is taking the words “all is very good” almost on a prophetic level: we are not in the promised land, but we have made ourselves ready to walk towards it; together and equipped with hope, love and faith, that we can reach our destiny.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?.”
 1 Corinthians 6:19

Spiritually is often connected to meditation and prayer, sometimes fasting exercises which indicate that concentrating on the body is an important part of such exercises. Mindfulness towards body and spirit.
I strongly believe that to a holistic spiritual wellbeing health and attention to the body is non-negotiable. The Nex – Indawo Yethu acknowledges this with the offering of health services, linked to social services and the programme of the “First 1000 days” specifically looking at the wellbeing of a human being in the decisive foundation phase of life.

Health, Wellness – mental health and an environment to thrive is so important especially for children and adolescents. Not forgetting those kids with special needs whose wellbeing will be catered for specifically in the Early Childhood Development Centre of the Campus.

Safety is another aspect of bodily wellbeing. The Nex – Indawo Yethu is situated in an area which is marked currently by violence and gangsterism as well as drug-related problems. It is certainly not a safe area, and it was interesting to see and hear, that in the first community participation meeting we had, the question of safety was raised several times: “Are our kids, our youngsters safe on your campus?” Obviously, this is a challenge and if you want the ugly side of business to admit, that security measures have to play a vital role in planning and executing this project. But ones again: the hope that The Nex – Indawo Yethu can be a turning point in moving into a more peaceful future translates a building into a prophetic sign that change is possible and change in this regard is on the way.

Filed under: Africa, Catholic Church, chaplain, Religion and Ethics, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blessing Ceremony

In Delft, the blessing ceremony for a safe space campus called “The Nex – Indawo Yethu” has taken place yesterday in the presence of Premier (WP) Alan Winde, Minister for Human Settlement (WP) Tertuis Simmers, Executive Mayor from Cape Town Dan Plato, Consul General of Germany Matthias Hansen, religious leaders and various guests and collaborators.

The Nex – Indawo Yethu is a safe space project of HOPE Cape Town (www.hopecapetown.org) and will holistically offer services: health, social services, early childhood development, youth work, afterschool care, vocational dual training, entrepreneurial skills development training for the people within the greater Delft area. This project is in collaboration with the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town, the government of the Free state of Bavaria and other NGO’s and institutions.

The blessings were given by a Catholic priest, an Imam, a Rabbi and a Sangoma. Here are some pictures from this event.

Filed under: 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, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

City of Cape Town: Impound more taxis – enforce the law – we back you!

It is war between some taxi organizations and traffic officials in Cape Town, Dunoon, Joe Slovo and yesterday in the City of Cape Town. The reason being that taxi organizations demand from traffic officers to first consult them before issuing fines or impounding unsafe or unlicensed taxis. Yes, you heard right: Taxi bosses want to be ones deciding how much of the law applies for them and their drivers.  Drivers complain in front of cameras that it causes hardship to be forced to pay fines. This is clearly mafia style and defies common sense.

It is time to salute the brave traffic cops and the City of Cape Town to finally reign in and stop these gangsters of the road who believe that all others come second in traffic. It is time to stop the endangerment of people on a daily base. It is time to stop negotiating with people who have no desire to follow traffic rules. And it is time to take whole organizations to account when violence is spreading like two weeks ago in Dunoon and Joe Slovo. It is a slap in the face of every tax payer fitting the bill for destroyed MyCity Bus Stations and business lost because of road closures and destruction. I still wait to see when the City will take the Dunoon Taxi Organisation to court to pay for all the damage done; issuing an apology and telling the public that they forgot to warn us all that they want to go on rampage is simply not good enough.

Let’s strengthen the back of all City officials in Cape Town and in other places, where there is stand off between those thinking they are the law of the roads and us tax payers trying to make a decent living. Life is hard enough with the economic situation and load shedding and all the other challenges.
Let’s give them the thumb up when we see them enforcing the law, let’s report any transgression of taxi drivers – a united front against those rowdies will also help the few decent hard working taxi drivers who have the courtesy of caring for those in the bus and around the vehicle.

Photo: Rob Beezy / Twitter

 

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

Ball of HOPE – 18.05.2019

Join us again for this prestigious event
and
play a significant role
in the lives of many needy children
and
their families
in the Western Cape.

Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019_Page_1Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019_Page_2Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019_Page_3Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019_Page_4

Registration open – please download info and booking form:

Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019

Filed under: 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, Medical and Research, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ball of HOPE – 18.05.2019

Join us again for this prestigious event
and
play a significant role
in the lives of many needy children
and
their families
in the Western Cape.

Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019_Page_1Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019_Page_2Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019_Page_3Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019_Page_4

Registration open – please download info and booking form:

Invitation Ball of HOPE 18.05.2019

Filed under: 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, Medical and Research, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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