God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

No time to rest…

It is amazing – after 24 hours at airports and in the air back in South Africa and it takes not even minutes to receive the first phone call. How do they know that one is back in the country, just switching on the cell? This week is occupied a lot from work with HOPE Cape Town. The transition phase is ongoing but I get the feel that we are getting there. The website need an update and all the news about the new cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm must be beamed up. We started research in the fields of E-learning: How do our people learn best? With paper documents, computers or handheld devices? A 6 months study will hopefully tell us more about it.
But it was great to see the enthusiasm of the students and lectures from Neu-Ulm coming to Cape Town for a week of extensive work. And it was good for our HOPE Community Health worker to see how networking is functioning and how important it is to learn from each other.
Other meetings with fellow priests and friends complemented the week and there was also a second meeting regarding founding a European Club for Cape Town. A club, where one can do networking; but also intellectual and spiritual exchange should take place. And not only once a week or once a month. The club should provide a venue to be accessible every day, just to bump in for a drink and a chat or a business meeting. To make such an idea working one has to look at existing clubs to liaise and form an additional grouping using the facility. I find it an exciting idea and I have the impression that all involved like to work hard to get it off the ground and going.

Ending a time as chaplain at sea means also to write a report about your work, the church wants to know what one has done in this swimming vineyard and even some guests have already taken the opportunity to send greetings from home to their “ex-chaplain”.

Church wise the appointment of Bishop Mueller from Regensburg in Germany to be “God’s watchdog” has created some debate and yeah, I guess, it is debatable. He has a diversity which leaves one sometimes guessing in which direction it explodes. On one hand he is a friend of one of the most acknowledged liberation theologian in South America; on the other hand he dealt with laity in his diocese in a way which is more than questionable. And for the Pius-brothers he seems to be a heretic – denying the virgin birth of Jesus and the teaching of transubstantiation. So it seems nobody is really happy – except the pope I guess and I think we just have to wait and see what is happening. Even if the past might be difficult, there is always the hope that people can change or grow into a job in a way serving God and the people.  All the hasty judgements,be it positive or negative are too early. Let him start and we will see…

Reading also the news on AIDS I see that Uganda starts to have problems related to resistance. This comes not as a suprise, this is indeed one of the biggest challenges we have to keep the virus far away from turning into a nasty resistant one. But the chances are high that it will happen if we don’t watch out very carefully, also here in South Africa.
I also note that the OraSure HIV home kit test is now FDA approved. I remember sitting with the representative of this company quite some years ago and at that time I felt that this test could prove good to make testing easier and avoid the pre-test counselling which I believe we have to stop doing as soon as possible. But local government and the hospitals were not keen at that time even to listen to such a test not performed in a hospital setting.

Well, weekend is coming and I hope there is time for some reading. I just have counted: There are 23 books waiting to be read…

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

25.08.2009 A long day…

A long day draws to an end, filled with meetings, paper work and the management meeting of HOPE Cape Town. It is amazing to see where we are at now after 8 years of work.  Academic research and grass root projects are filling the agenda, and the question, whether one can do an outing during Ramadan, as we have employees of Muslim faith.
The discussion shows how sensitive the issue is – and that during Ramadan, some Muslims want to refrain from social activities.
The group of employees had decided nevertheless to do the outing – but this discussion will be surely a focus point during the time to discuss different cultures and resulting expectations. It also shows that it is necessary to keep a calender with all important religious times to give space to the needs of those taking religion seriously.

After two years, all HOPE community health workers are going for two days away, for most of them it is a real break from daily life and the daily struggle. But it should also be an opportunity to debrief our men and women at the forefront of our work. It is amazing with what they all have to cope with: work, sometimes very poor working conditions, extended families with all the problems, own kiddies and those of the sisters and brothers and so on and so on…

41 HOPE community health worker have been employed by HOPE Cape Town during the last 8 years, most of them have climbed the latter at a certain point, well trained the Province of the Western Cape has snatched some away and promoted to good position within the health system. HOPE Cape Town becomes more and more a starting point for people, who seriously want to get involved in heath issues and community work, based at the respective primary health care facility.

The two hour management meeting is full of proposals, requests, lots of decision are taken which will be implemented in the next days and weeks from our staff. It is amazing, but you go home with the feeling that you really can change the world a little bit.. at least here in South Africa, here in the Western Cape.  Great stuff!

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Reflection, , , , , , , ,

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