God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Memorial Day

IMG_0615Memorial weekend – for my US American friends a long weekend where they not only enjoy free time with family and friends, but also a time to reflect about those having given the ultimate sacrifice for the country. Everywhere flags lowered, on radio shows people phone in to commemorate loved once. Even if all other countries have this kind of memento for fallen soldiers, somehow it is a bit strange to me as the concept of a nation and fighting about territory or power and influence is somehow a strange concept for me. I simply can’t see that soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq during an unjust war can be styled into fallen heroes – for me they are rather victims of a political system unable to bring peace by peaceful means. But I guess there everybody has a different point of view.

Having said this, traveling within the States to develop a HOPE Cape Town related entity called HOPE Cape Town USA I realize more and more, how daunting this task is and that I have to learn a hell of a lot about the people, the way of life or better the way of lives, as crisscrossing the country I see vast differences in behavior and daily habits. But they all have things in common:
I am fascinated by the quest of freedom for the individual to pursue happiness, I am thrilled to see the general friendliness and openness and at the same time their notion of a gun loving nation is the darker flip side I have trouble to understand.

The generosity is mind-boggling, the gap between those having ways to much and those just living on the fringes of society or just making it through the year seems to be God-given in this country. The gap feels different from what I experience it in South Africa and I would have lots of question when it comes to the role of the federal government in terms of social services.

All that said to build up HOPE Cape Town USA is a task of magnitude – and I am so grateful to have with Stacie Greskowiak McNulty and Shirley and Joe Kunzmann persons of deep integrity and the will to assist and lead the effort in bringing Africa and America together. It is indeed not a one-way road: we can learn from each other and people from all walks of life, those living with HIV, those being affected by HIV but also all others we encounter can benefit from this exchange of ideas, this combined will to be a relevant piece in this mosaic we call the world.

IMG_0598I am excited, excited for HOPE Cape Town to be able to expand and connect, excited in my own capacity learning so much every time I meet with my US American friends, excited of the prospect of serving a meaningful purpose for those we care for in our work.

New York, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey – the first baby steps of HOPE Cape Town USA and on this Memorial Day 2016 I feel gratitude for all those people who serve their country by simply doing good, assisting those in need, serving the broader community and bringing people of different walks of life together for the benefit of the common good.

HOPE USA - Monserrat

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

Preparing for the USA

HOPE USA - MonserratIt has been quite a weekend with the Ball of HOPE taking place in Cape Town and also the AGM of the HOPE Cape Town Trust. And while some quests still remain in Cape Town and enjoying the mother city but also learning about the project, preparations are running high for a trip to the USA.
In February “HOPE Cape Town USA” was founded in Dallas / TX (www.hopecapetownusa.com) and now the four newly appointed directors are due to meet for the first time at the end of May. Besides this, meetings with NGO’s and other interested entities are scheduled in Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey. Besides the marketing and fundraising efforts this new family member of the HOPE Cape Town family will serve for, HOPE Cape Town USA is also instrumental to reach out and learn from each others experience in the fields of HIV and AIDS. Knowing that in parts of the USA, for example Washington DC, the HIV rate amongst Afro-American is as high as in South Africa, there is enough common ground to contemplate how to best practice can be applied in instances, where poverty, unemployment and other factors determine and driving the infection. For HOPE Cape Town it is an exciting new step to expand knowledge and to raise awareness for the plight of those living here around the Cape of Good Hope with the syndrome or being affected by it.
Having said that I am already amazed how dedicated the people in the US already known to us are driving this new adventure, with how many heart and courage they prepare for all the encounters and dedicate time and money to make it happen. It is a humbling experience knowing that you are not alone and that hearts and minds are open and willing to assist in whatever way possible. It once again also forces me to reflect, that all our doing in South Africa at the end is only possible if and when other people just join in.
I mentioned that in my presentation at the Ball of HOPE that not me, not even all my colleagues and HOPE Cape Town co-workers together could stem the tide of HIV if and when not an extended HOPE family would lent support in so many ways: money, prayers, good thoughts, network opportunities, goodwill… the list goes on and on.

So I am excited to experience the further expansion of the HOPE Cape Town family into the “land of the free” and I hope to free up lots of goodwill and support so that HOPE Cape Town can continue to support those infected and affected by HIV, AIDS, TB and related illnesses.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Cape Town USA, Reflection, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

May days and US blues

It is the time of the year – May and the prestigious Ball of HOPE is on again – this year with Nevio Passaro as a special guest coming from Germany to entertain those lucky to have a ticket. A sold out event is always a dream for the organizers and also this year we are indeed full to capacity. The Southern African – German Chamber of Commerce and HOPE Cape Town celebrating 15 years of the Ball of HOPE, 15 years of HOPE Cape Town Association and 10 years of HOPE Cape Town Trust. Time is indeed flying and it seems yesterday when we started humbly with opening the ward G7 at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital. Was it at the beginning important to have a ward dedicated to infectious diseases and to administer treatment – in those days government were battling anti-retrovirals as poison – so is the scenario now completely different. The mother to child transmission rate is down to 5% but could be pressed further down to under 1%. People on anti-retroviral treatment are staying healthy longer and longer – but still HIV is a major contributor to the death toll of South Africa. All the prevention work has not cut down the new infection rate the way it was expected – so the status quo of HIV in South Africa is still remaining a mixed one.
15 years of HOPE Cape Town Association also means 15 years of support from so many different people, some being members of the HOPE family since interception of the project, others have come and gone and many are joining in our days. They are all a blessing for those HOPE Cape Town is able to assist in getting a life back with the possibility of a good future.
But “balls” are not falling from heaven – preparation is hard work and bringing together great entertainment, good food and all the logistics coming with it seems every year to be a never-ending story. That the AGM of the HOPE Cape Town Trust is the very same day of the Ball of HOPE makes this day even more challenging.

If you live in South Africa welcome to watch Expresso Show on SABC 2 Friday, 6th of May in the morning and watch Katlego Maboe, our HOPE Cape Town Goodwill Ambassador performing with Nevio Passaro from Germany. So you get a glimpse of what to expect at the Ball of HOPE 2016.

But May is not only marked by this local event, HOPE Cape Town is adding a new sister entity called “HOPE Cape Town USA” which was founded in Dallas Texas some weeks ago. I will fly to the first directors meeting mid May and if you read this blog and live in or around Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or New Jersey and you want to help, assist, meet up – just let me know and we will get in touch. The HOPE family is growing and being a HOPE ambassador is a worthwhile cause. Spread the word, make connections, support those living here in South Africa with little hope for a bride future. HIV, TB and related illnesses, connected with poverty, unemployment, weak education is a recipe for disaster, not only in a personal life but at the end for a society as a whole. You can make a difference in the life of others – count your blessings and pass on some to those without/.

 

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Networking, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A new date to celebrate?

Unknown to many in South Africa, this month of September saw a new global awareness date: The Global Female Condom Awareness Day was celebrated on the 12th of September for the first time. Advocates and organizations in 22 states and 21 countries promoted the use of female condoms as underutilized safer sex tools. Although they’re called female condoms, these prophylactics can be used for both vaginal and anal sex. Here in South Africa more and more women use the female condom which can be worn for a longer time. Protecting themselves in the case of rape is also a reason often said when questioned about it.

Read more from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago here.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Networking, Reflection, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

28.01.2010 Students from Chicago

After a days work and quite some meetings I am invited to give a talk for students of the University of Chicago, who are on a course in Cape Town. The students listen very attentive while I try to bring them closer the grim reality of HIV and AIDS in South Africa. Yes, we have made progress, yes, there are almost one million people on treatment – but also yes, there are problems with adherence and compliance, yes, it is a reality that still hundreds of South Africans die every day as a consequence of HIV and AIDS. And yes, there are logistical problems, and yes, they are instances, where treatment is not given – lack of money, resources, man power – you name it.

And yes, we haven’t reached the peak of the problem yet – the Soccer World Cup 2010 and all its tales cover nicely up for all the things not running well in our country. It is not the time to debate them now – now is the time for fun and joy and soccer. The world should see, what we have achieved so far – and yes, we have achieved a lot, but the reality starts again on the 12.07,2010 when the FIFA circus is moving on to the next country and South Africa is left alone…

Let’s see

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

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
3 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2020

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 23rd, 2020
10 months to go.
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