God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Motherfu@#er – or summarizing an interesting year

Nobody can say 2017 was a boring or uneventful year – it does not matter where you live or work – we were all part of a developing global village story shaking the world to the core. Politically a constant fake news producer, self-styled ego-man, denialist on many fronts and womanizer was elected President of the United States and many people had to learn that between the big cities of the West and East coast are definitely not as progressive as the city dwellers – believing rather what they want to believe instead tackling the challenges and realities on the ground.
In Europe Germany stills waits for a new government to be formed while in Austria a populist youngster seems to be the savior of this country while in Poland and Hungary the right wingers demolish democratic advances and human rights achievements almost systematically. The British playing Brexit chess without knowing really where it will end and the EU searches its way through all the political pitfalls its encountered during the year.

On the African continent the looting of South Africa continued and the brazenness in the face of several court decisions and revelations about those captured by the Guptas only increased as if they would know that their time is running out. Zimbabwe got rid of uncle Bob after a shameless Grace pushed for power while in other African countries there are the usual suspects extending their welcome by changing laws and constitutions. The question of refugees from Africa to Europe continuous to be a matter of grave concern and indicates that problems are not solved but always pushed to the next big political meeting.

In the Roman-Catholic church the opposition against Pope Francis clearly tried to score points in ridiculous ways and the hardly hidden hurt vanity of one cardinal stood out as an example of unhappiness with the current way our church is steered – while Catholics as such are discovering the depth of faith in a new and exciting way – even if mercy is a concept known since the beginning of Christianity.

And all this is mirrored in the social media – where etiquette seems to vanish while emotions are running high. Lots of contributions are lacking respect or brain like this example which I choose to publish because it shows the consequence of having leaders steering those emotions, playing with the uneducated and their sentiments, leading by bad examples or supporting the wave of false or misleading information which results in a mixture of unreasonable demands, non-logical approaches, denial of realities and the fostering of ideologies we thought to have beaten long ago.

So there is undeniable a sort of chaos ruling the world in the moment – with leaders uneasy and seemingly battling to make sense and to come to conclusions beneficial for all.  Democracy seems to take some hits while social media and the change in technology and communication has completely changed the environment people are operating. And if you look to China, where they develop a tracking system for all citizens and plans to work with scores to give or take privileges like loans or traveling, it becomes blatant clear where the challenges for political systems will be found in the years to come.

All this said there is also the acknowledgment that all challenges are also opportunities. Opportunities to resist and grow, opportunities to re-evaluate and correct, to discuss and discern and to move on forging a way for more humanity, more human rights and liberties as well as dignity for everybody. So nothing is doomed or lost at all.

In this context the work of NGO’s and civil right groups becomes so more important to assist in achieving the for-said goals. They are rightly seen as a threat to governments leaning towards dictatorial behavior as seen in Egypt or Russia, let alone China. To support those NGO’s and to value their contribution to a better world remains important when we now go into the next year 2018. Good vetted non-governmental organizations with a proven track record are in the coming years the lifeline to fill and bridge the gaps of governmental work, civil society has to play a much bigger role and charity organizations will be much-needed to continue their work for those many falling through the cracks of organized societies.

So at the end it is a mixed review but not hopeless, it is full of challenges we will have to turn into opportunities – it is a starting pitch for 2018 which will make the work of all interested in humanity exciting, demanding and rewarding at the same time. May it be for as many as possible a blessed year and may the emotions express themselves in a way respecting each other.

 

 

 

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

State-capture and NGO work

Following the news about all Zuma and Gupta and state-capture, about Gigaba, Muthambi, Dlamini, Zwane and all the others so often for the wrong reason in the news the debate often ends with the bleak outlook on economics – the downgrades and the failure to attract investment and to stimulate growth.

What remains unreported and not even considered is the impact, the failure and outright criminal action of those in power have on the NGO sector of South Africa. The country is meanwhile so in the bad books of the global village, that even the non-profit and charity sector starts to feel the consequences as more and more funder and donor refuse to support a corrupt South Africa.  Justified or not, it has to be noted that those organizations, which fill so often the gap and bridge the incapacity and incompetence of governmental institution are harmed in the same way like their honest for -profit economical siblings.

The groundwork for this disastrous development was laid the day, South Africa joined BRICS and decided not to be a “developing” country anymore – naturally it cut essential funding from overseas to the point that even the European Union re-considered their contribution towards the development of the country in their newest budget. With all the state-capture, the obvious incompetence and dishonesty of some ministers and the inability of self-correction the situation is worsening as we speak – South Africa, the beacon of hope and Madiba’s dream of a rainbow nation as an example of reconciliation turned into a black sheep, a symbol of outright corruption and failed politics.

Obviously one can argue that assuming the way of South Africa would be trouble-free was an illusion from the beginning – and the argument is certainly valid. But the way it turns out now, the depth of state-capture with all its consequences and the unwillingness or impotence of the ruling party to correct this path of (self-) destruction destroys the  very fabric South Africa needs to develop peacefully and with equality for all its citizens. In this situation NGO’s are the very glue which can hold such a social  fabric even if government fails its people once in a while, but for being able to do so, they need resources and the goodwill of people from all walks of life – especially those who can financially and materially contribute to the essential work of those Non-profits.

Filed under: Africa, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Brexit

BrexitAnother hit onto the South African economy with consequences not good for the country, but I wonder why people are so excited about the outcome. The EU is indeed in a “cul-de-sac” on many levels – a union, based on economic desires while ignoring social questions and ruled by politicians often parked at the EU by national governments not wanting to entertain them further in national politics. Adding to it an expansion to conquer the rests of the dissolved UdSSR and growing at a rate which is unhealthy –  and looking at the administration more than a challenge; disaster has now struck with the Brexit.
Great Britain, anyhow always a nation wanting to have everything on an extra plate related to EU matters has decided by popular vote to exit. Xenophobia and narrow national interests, political lies and the anxiety of the ordinary people not understanding or even grasping the complexity of the global village in our days – all this was and is a toxic environment for national referendums.
It has to be seen whether this not means the end of Great Britain as such – with Scotland and Northern Ireland going separate ways on a long-term run.
But: The sun has come up again the next day and once again it has been demonstrated that life is flowing – also political life and social life. Borders, nations, national feelings are bound to a certain point in history and nothing remains for eternity.

It has to be seen whether politicians wake up and realize that only looking for re-election without any vision – and the courage to go for such a vision – means the end of politics as we have known it. Add to it the flood of social media and permanent news coverage which changes the landscape of decision-making and social development substantially. We are entering a new era and it seems that human mankind is not prepared or ready for the challenges of a modern and multi leveled connected global village.
For us South Africans it remains a sort of consolation that politics not only in our country is becoming more and more an affair of irrationality and madness. What is worrying is the fact that at the end the ordinary citizen pays the bill for all this – and the vulnerable, the powerless, the poor are those suffering more while most of those in charge creating the chaos have secured their benefits long-term.
NGOMore injustice is the underlying consequence of political incompetency as we see it in Europe, but also here in South Africa as in Africa on a growing scale. This makes the work of grass-root projects so much more important – NGO’s assisting those losing out in the realities of today. And if you look at movement like St Egidio you might learn that maybe it will be such initiatives from the base of society which can bring the development needed for more peace and prosperity for all living on this planet. But one has not to look that far – any small NGO – where ever they are – counter and mitigate the gaps, politics is leaving behind in their struggle for power and influence. They are much needed in our days.

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

Another mission…

European Union Headquarters - Brussels, Belgium

European Union Headquarters – Brussels, Belgium (Photo credit: Sailing “Footprints: Real to Reel” (Ronn ashore))

After one week in Cape Town sitting in a plane again, this time to Brussels in Belgium. I was offered the opportunity to meet those relevant people in the EU (European Union) dealing with African and South African affairs. It will be a big challenge for me to understand and digest in a couple of days the mechanism of EU-African relationship. But as HOPE Cape Town is a joint venture between European and African people, I strongly believe to see the bigger picture is an important step to understand the synergies behind single projects. And the question of funding is for me in the moment only second best – it is really first to make my homework and understand the principles of political and economic ties and so have a background image for further investigation into EU funding for Africa. I feel like a student again 🙂 and I am very grateful for the organizers to give me this opportunity.

Generally I believe in networking and sharing to reach the goal of ongoing support for those in need – in the case of HOPE Cape Town the need to deal with HIV and AIDS in their mainly anyhow devastated lives of poverty, unemployment, little education and almost no light at the end of the tunnel. South Africa is going through a challenging time with Madiba, the moral conscience of South Africa in his last chapter of life and politicians in place who seem to have subscribed to corruption and attending to everything gaining them wealth but ignoring mostly the plight of the people. That might be a harsh judgement but I strongly believe that South Africa deserves better. Maybe the looming farewell from Nelson Mandela will serve as a reminder about the dreams and hopes after 1994 and ignite the longing and yearning to reach this dream of a real rainbow nation where poverty, corruption, crime, unemployment is seriously tackled by people in power who care deeply about the future of all South Africans.

HOPE Cape Town is working only in one little sector of health within all the areas of human life. But as it needs all mosaic pieces to create the final picture, the organization is willing to contribute whatever is necessary to make the vision of a prosper and thriving South Africa possible. One drop in the big ocean – right so – but let’s join all drops to accumulate into a stream taking us forward.

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

Danger looming….

HIV/AIDS is shifting out of the eye of the public – it seems that the drugs available transformed a deadly disease into a chronic one. Only people deeper involved notice that we have not yet turned the tide and that still millions dying as a consequence of HIV/AIDS.

There are many reasons for things could go terribly wrong again and just as food for thoughts I want to highlight some of them coming from the political sector:

* India-EU Trade deal

According to UN AIDS 86% of people around the world taking medication the pills come as generics from India. The EU and India negotiating in the moment a free-trade deal which is a danger to the manufacturing of generic medicine because the deal delays or extends patents, requires exclusivity and looks for harsher border controls enforcement rules.

* USA deals

The USA is in the moment negotiating several deals with different partners, amongst them  Mercosur (the common market of South America), but also with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam (Trans-Pacific partnership trade agreement). In these agreements, the USA pushes for stricter patent rights and new forms of intellectual property enforcement to intercept generics more easily. The trans pacific partnership trade agreement will be a draft for further agreements between the USA and the developing world and threatens the well-being of HIV/AIDS patients around the world while protecting the big pharmaceutical industry.

* Global AIDS Fund and research

The Global AIDS Fund lacks money and more and more countries are not paying in but negotiating one to one agreements with their perspective partner countries. The aim to bring all patients on treatment and to turn the tide is threatened. The financial crisis and the inability of the political elite to modernize economics and bring back stability means that money for research is also getting less. We not only need new drugs, the aim is still to eradicate HIV and AIDS and to create a cure for the syndrome.

 

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Politics and Society, Reflection, , , , , , , , , ,

13th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 27th, 2018
72 days to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018

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