God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Observation on a cruise

TV display on the MS Artania

TV display on the MS Artania

Being away as the chaplain for a cruise is certainly a break away from the daily duties and a welcome change in the normal work routine. But obviously it seems that HOPE Cape Town is somehow everywhere on my shoulder it does not matter where I go or travel.
Being on the MS Artania now and chatting to one of the guests I discover she is from Dresden and her son works for the “Schauspielhaus”. So there it is again: the “HOPE-connection” without even knowing each other at first.
And those who know already about my work do want to know how it is going. So one could say travelling the world and doing pastoral work for the people and marketing HOPE Cape Town goes hand in hand.
And it is true: somehow HOPE Cape Town seems to be an integral part of my life and sometimes I wonder whether I ever have the chance to escape of being sort of “Mr HOPE” one day. And the next question coming up is whether I really want this change in my life.
Giving a talk on a cruise ship about HOPE Cape Town is always a challenge. The guests present on the ship are here to enjoy a stress and worry free holiday – most haven chosen to dip into the world of cruises to have the time of their lives. Of course they are visiting different countries and automatically also hear and see the miseries of poverty and other downsides of society. And the reactions are very diverse: some romanticize, others ignore, some complain about even being exposed to it and I know of travellers who freely admit, that they don’t take cruises to Africa or South America because they don’t want to see “it”.
Here I feel my role as a chaplain can bridge the gap and when it happens, interesting discussions will follow, not only in the ‘question and answer spot” after the talk but also during the whole journey.

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

Different worlds

Being on a cruise liner as a chaplain means also to be exposed to many different people and talking about God, the world, HOPE Cape Town and obviously HIV and AIDS. And suddenly one realizes again how different the worlds are we are living in. Standing casually last night watching the evening show I was chatting with the medical doctor on board. Naturally we are in close contact as our work portfolios touch each other and this time, we spend even more time together chatting and befriending each other besides the work. Speaking about my experience of HIV and AIDS in South Africa and my question, whether there are HIV rapid test on board the good doctor is not sure whether there are. In the ongoing conversation he admits never having treated a case of HIV and as the discussion goes along, he mentioned that in the case he would encounter such a case on board, he would advice the person to leave the ship. I was stunned. Not that he had any reservations or discriminatory thoughts about people living with HIV. It was simple, that for him, HIV was an unknown syndrome, not present while he was studying and never present to his knowledge in his rooms.

Knowing how he cares about patients I wondered till I was falling asleep that for me HIV was such a “normal” factor of life while for him it was something unknown in practice and even far away in theory. Indeed different worlds and a reminder, that often we think, our environment, our knowledge, our expertise is normal to all others – and it is not. I hope that my talk tomorrow about the work we are doing with HOPE Cape Town in South Africa will open up some minds and hearts and contribute to a better dealing with HIV and AIDS in an European environment.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

From Cruise-liner pastoral work back to African realities

Some gaps are difficult to cover – and after doing pastoral work for passengers on a cruise-liner going from Australia to Sri Lanka, I am now back in Cape Town to continue my work in the local Archdiocese of Cape Town. It was nice to be away for a while and it was interesting working on such a ship. What a meeting of worlds, what kind of dynamics. I seldom had so much fun preaching in the prayer services and Eucharistic celebrations – it felt like hearts met and a connection established which brought “my world” to these mainly elderly people who traveled the world without getting too much in contact with reality. One day Cambodia, one day Thailand, one day Aceh and so on – it seems to me a first smooth encounter and how much I would wish for a deeper encounter – but time don’t permit. On the other hand – having worked hard at home the passengers tried to conquer the world, to catch a glimpse of other cultures and living environments. And I am sure it changes their perception of the world, it these encounters are done in a sensitive way.

I was able to show the BR TV production “Hoffnung am Kap” and tears and big eyes gave witness how often it is forgotten: the plight of those less fortune then we are. It is not easy to realize that wealth and high living standard is only possible if others suffer or at least have little to live on. I am sure I found new friends for HOPE Cape Town and some people staying in touch with me and the work I am doing with all my colleagues.

The cruise has shown me again how big the gap is between North and South – and how much I am already more an African than an European. It is scary, it is amazing, but it remains my challenge to be a bridge between two worlds which at the end need each other.

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

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