God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

A blessed time

All friends and supporters of HOPE Cape Town and this blog a blessed Easter or Passah.

for Stefan (2)20150401_112142 (2)

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

A busy week for HOPE Cape Town

Even in the week leading to Easter there is still much to do and reflect before relaxing and enjoying the Easter holidays. HOPE Cape Town was searching for a new HOPE doctor and it seems that we found even two, sharing the workload and bringing in their dedication and adding so to the excellence of HOPE Cape Town. If everything goes alright then from the 1st of April / 1st of May respectively we are complemented with the two medical women.At the same time the back office of HOPE Cape Town Trust and Association needed a new secretary to support Kerstin Behlau. Also these negotiations are looking good and hopefully April will see the additional full-time secretary starting her work with HOPE Cape Town.
And when in May our program coordinator will commence her work, then we are complete again and the time of transition is coming somehow to an end. New ideas, new thinking is also needed to redefine our relationship with the Ithemba Ward, which will move in due course from G7 to G10. What can HOPE Cape Town add to the wards work 12 years after the organization’s first task was to set up the ward? In the moment even the playroom is occupied with little patients, so there is clearly much to do, but work has in the fields of HIV and AIDS always redefined as it is a very dynamic field.

The Bishop of Trier / Germany will also come in the week after Easter to visit HOPE Cape Town and to get more knowledge about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa. He is the latest of a row of visitors coming from all corners of life: parliamentarians, students, medical doctors, ministers, sponsors, donors and even those who are just curious to see what it means to live side by side with HIV and poverty. We from HOPE Cape Town are always very happy to take the visitors out and introduce them to the realities on the ground. So there is no kid handing a bunch of flowers to the visitors but whatever is present at the time of the visit is shown by HOPE Cape Town and experienced by the visitors. Real life experience does not need much explanation or planing – the moment where two worlds meet in the persons present is mostly enough to change hearts and minds and foster more understanding for each other.

So even a short week like the Holy week before Easter is full of puzzling and planing and it feels so alive – this organization called HOPE Cape Town.

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


Do you know where Sterkspruit is located? Or Herschel? I did not know till I visited it: Eastern Cape – Diocese of Aliwal North – somewhere close to Lesotho – and arriving there after a long drive from Bloemfontein feels like getting in a forgotten corner of South Africa. On invitation of Sam, one of our trustees of the HOPE Cape Town Trust, who is coming from here, I meet different people like Fr Joe and his flock with 30 chapels and churches. I hear of the plight of the people, their attempt to make the best of their lives, of mismanagement of the environment, of crime, abuse, hopelessness, poverty and all the credentials which one would hope to defeat in the new South Africa. And once again I encounter the ABCD programme of the Catholic Student movement, which puts being HIV positive on the same level like being a criminal or a drug addict. Nobody thought about it really – coming from the official church side, nobody questioned it.

After 25 hours intense listening and trying to take in the situation of the people I am out again – with proposals in my bag of projects, with thousand thoughts how people can exist like this for ages, with admiration for my fellow priests keeping the hope up in these circumstances and with the determination to make things happen as much as I am able to from a distance. Most of our HOPE Community Health worker are coming from the Eastern Cape and I heard many times how much assistance is needed – now I know first hand…

I first have to reflect on it more – good that there is the Easter break – time for reflection in the light of the unconditional love of God. What does it mean for those people I left in Sterkspruit?

By the way: If you read this and you have skills like bricklayer, electrician or whatever practical professional skills and you have some weeks time to go there and teach those skills to young people in the area: let me know…

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

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, in the Christian churches a day of reflection and fasting – begin of lent, the time in preparation of the highest feast of Christianity, the resurrection of Christ.  Being on travel I also reflect on my life. And my first question would be: which life? The life as it isfeatured in the public domain with all the articles in newspapers and magazines and other media? The life of  a public person – the “founder” of HOPE Cape Town? or is it the life of the priest, called to holiness on a daily base and representing a church which is battling with all the shortcomings in the moment on a daily base? Or is it the life of Stefan, the friend, the family member, the acquaintance? Or is it the conclusion of all three facets of different lives? Or is it the real me – the person, I only know best and still remains a mystery for myself at the same time – the person who would never fit in all the roles given to me or expectations raised towards me in daily life.

I sometimes wonder how people perceive me and how I perceive me being perceived in public. I see what kind of difference exists in people how they believe they are and how they come across for others; it makes me think twice about my own perceptions.

I guess what counts at the end is how much we live who we are, how much, as we Christians phrase it, we are able to be what we are called for. And how much we are honest with ourselves and strive to bring our being and our doing together. We have to write each of us our own little story with God, our own little bible added to the official one – and as important to God as the latter.

For me the last 10 years have been also years of HOPE in the true sense of the word. This organisation has become a part of my life and I have served HOPE Cape Town in different capacities, as chairperson of the HOPE Cape Town Association, as management member and these days as board member and as chairperson of the HOPE Cape Town Trust as well as management member of the HOPE Kapstadt Stiftung. In all these capacities I was blessed with wonderful moments, with truly interesting and humble visitors who all added to a colourful life.
In the last 25 years I also had the luck to serve as a priest, the longest time as the chaplain to the German-speaking Catholic Communities in Cape Town and in Durban. What a diversity added to my life – what for blessings and possibilities to grow – even in the hardest hours of being nicely disposed as the chaplain in a way which some described as “between diplomacy and dishonesty” – the usual way of getting rid of perceived problems in our days. The toughest hours shape the most and I see them as a challenge to grow.

Lent is the time to reflect – to count the blessings and to see what is still needed on our way through life and what habits have become a burden and could be discharged or left behind. This is a time to allow ourselves a clear and honest picture of ourselves and to experience the unconditional love of God towards us anew. A love which allows us to grow, to change, to resist pressure of fellow man to adjust only to mainstream or to be scared to speak our minds if need be. A love which enables us to love and to cherish our neighbour, our fellow men and women next to us.

I wish all readers a blessed time of lent and at the end not only the celebration of Easter but a celebration of the resurrection of each and everybody of us as a grown human being – able to live life to the fullest and being more identical and reconciled with “myself” .

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

01.04.2010 Holy days ahead

For us Christians there are now very three very holy days ahead, starting today with Holy Thursday and ending with Easter, the most important feast of Christianity. In between Good Friday which tells a bloody story about suffering and death. I find it always important to have this Good Friday in between – a day where our faith clearly and without any cover up is realising the cruelty of the world, the suffering, the injustice and all what goes with it. But it is also a day where we think of those marginalised today – those suffering of HIV and AIDS, those who are refugees in a foreign country and not welcomed, those in absolute poverty or sentenced without a fair trial. So many people to think of on Good Friday. Last but not least we can also look at ourselves, our wounds, our dark sides, our pain and shortcomings – and we can do this in the knowledge that it belongs to us, it is part of being a human, and that we have to accept most of it, change some of it, but that we all can trust that God will transform all of it to an Easter experience.

I think this counts a lot specially in the days where our church is going to the press because of all the old wounds never revealed. I hope and with that this Good Friday is a Good Day for our church, acknowledging our pain and shortcomings without excuses – that will be the first step to be able to experience also an Easter of our church.

Filed under: Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

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