God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 policemen and 11 days

What do you expect from the police when you are robbed and all your belongings you carry with you are stolen? Right: to go to the police station and lay charge and get a case number. That’s the theory but it seems that even that simple truth is not always working properly in South Africa.

One of our HOPE Community Health Workers was robbed on the street and with all her belongings also the new tablet just received was taken from her. The tablet, a donation from the Consulate General in Cape Town was insured and so it seemed to be a clear-cut case besides the trauma of being robbed: to go to the Police Station and report the incident and to get the case number for the insurance company. Not so with the South African Police Force. According to them, a tablet can only be reported stolen if one has the number of the SIM Card inserted into the tablet. But what happens if you don’t have a SIM card because your tablet should work only with wireless and there is no need for a SIM card. Well, according to the police their form has a field requiring the SIM card number and the consequences are clear: no SIM Card – no robbery case number.
One would think that policemen are able to think outside the box, but it took 8 different policemen during 11 days to archive the goal: getting a case number – and it needed finally the threat of our outreach facilitator to camp inside the police station until she gets the case number to make it happen.

What do we learn of it: Giving a police officer a form to fill in can be dangerous in South Africa… and there is a long way to go to get people to think on their own or to apply common sense. One of the most dangerous pitfalls in the training and education of South Africa is that repetition is all it need to pass – to think of your own is not only not required but even not wanted. The consequences are obvious and annoying to those having just gotten out of a dangerous situation and then not able to lay charge because of formalities. About police I can share another story just coming to my mind.

I remember being stopped by a policewoman in the North-West Province for not stopping correctly at a four – way stop. I was asked to step out of the car and the fine form was filled in. Question of the policewoman: “What is your profession?” Answer: “I am a priest.” Question: “Is that a profession?” My answer: “Yes” – Follow up question: “How do you spell that?”
Funny? – Well, depends how you see it – but it is better than having to buy chicken wings for hungry police officers to get off the hook while stopped for a traffic offense in Johannesburg.

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

Living in South Africa is not easy…!?

I am generally an optimist but even I have to concede that living in South Africa is not easy in our days. Too many negatives are troubling the concerned citizen in the times of election mood.  I stopped counting how many children have been raped and killed in the last weeks, especially in the Western Cape but also all over South Africa. It seems that even innocent children’s eyes are not protecting them from the senseless violence and the urge for sexual exploitation – and the rapists are coming of all age groups. It is frightening.
Violent toi-tois and strikes are daily news and the president has to tell a ‘good story’ in parliament – all politicians I listen to are seemingly disconnected with the realities on the ground only using what is needed to bolster their arguments. DA and ANC have the problem that there is indeed a problem with their respective leadership. Zuma is so much seen as a failed president marred with corruption that all the cover up of the ANC structures show that the party is not always right and that party discipline can be a negative. The DA is battling the “white lady” fight and can’t win this fight in the South Africa of today – and it seems that their leadership is not wise enough to change and let this argument run into the emptiness of space.
While all the politics are ongoing so is also the war of gangsters in Manenberg and the Cape Flats, destroying the fabric of normal life in those areas. If kids are anxious not to be caught in cross fire when walking to school or church then there is something fundamentally wrong.
Of course there are enough stories on a personal and community level which are uplifting. If it would not for those stories, one could pack the bag and leave the country. I guess it has to be those stories to be told more often and with more enthusiasm to counter the crude reality of the newspapers and news headlines. And there are more and more of the living who have never experienced apartheid by themselves – so the old stories of blaming apartheid for everything and evoking the “old times” as if nothing has been changed since then will not work anymore. It is the younger generation which can bring hope to this country, but for that, they need a proper education, which most of them are deprived of in our days. They need jobs which give them the possibility to grow and to tackle their own future. Education, passing on life skills which matters for their lives is needed and then all “malemarism” will be gone in a minute. If you are educated you don’t fall for empty promises.
Despite all these moments of frustration and anger, I still believe that South Africa is one of the most beautiful spots on earth and that there are so many positive stories to tell as well. It is a country which had the ability to have a peaceful transition to a full-fledged democracy where every vote is counting. If all people of good will work together those who are spoiling the process of becoming the rainbow nation will not prevail. For that healing should be the focus of our society – because only a reconciled nation and healed people can make life in South Africa for everybody a pleasant and meaningful one. It will never be a really easy one, but it will be a beacon of hope and encouragement  for the rest of the continent. So yes, in the moment life is not easy in South Africa – but there is still hope at the end of the tunnel – let’s work together on reaching the end of this tunnel and seeing the light…

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

24.02.2010 A crazy laptop and HCHW training

It is always a delight when a laptop is starting to refuse working – especially when one is short before going on travel and there is a need to have this instrument of work with in the luggage. Well, lets hope that the technicians can find the mistake before leaving – at least there is a place in Cape Town where one can bring his computer for repair..

This morning a chat with all Hope Community Health worker of HOPE Cape Town – once in a while it is indeed necessary to bring some basics back into the mindset of the people. They are good and most really try very hard to perform as required. Sometimes I forget, that most of them never had a regular job before being employed by HOPE Cape Town – so lots of basic education is also needed besides all the HIV and TB training. Amongst others there is also computer training as most clinics start to work with computers and most libraries in the different township communities have computers and internet. We are thrilled to work together with the Bavarian Staatskanzlei, InWent and the Missionsaerztliche Institut in Würzburg / Germany on E-learning which means to get all the input also in digital form, so that at an ideal scenario, people can log themselves into the program from their own computer or the available computer and learn by themselves – still in a controlled way.  Digital revolution also in our sector, slowly but surely.

I reminded our HOPE Community Health Workers this morning that besides a decent salary the training and education is the most beneficial asset for them – it is not for no reasons, that most of our HOPE Community Health Workers who left us were offered good positions within the respective clinics because they were very well-trained.
I guess that this is one of the most problematic topics in South Africa, the lack of proper education. Lets face it: Bringing the previous disadvantage into good positions with BEE is a great idea, but without the proper training it can develop into a nightmare. South Africa has surely taken a big share on these nightmares. Proper education takes time, and that is unfortunately something, politics lacks in this point. People wanted to see an immediate change after the first free elections in 1994. One consequence of the lack of time is surely that the quality of training and education has suffered. And when one listens to people in the educational sector, one hears again and again that the qualification levels have been lowered to accommodate the quota.

I believe that we at HOPE Cape Town have a good mix of people from different backgrounds and as long as I was part of the interviewing process, skin color never played a role. Attitude and the will to learn and achieve something in life, an open mind and a good heart is what brings people to the point, where they can climb the career ladder.

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

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

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

Ball of HOPE 2020

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 23rd, 2020
10 months to go.
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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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