God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Being silent…

Being silent at the beginning of the new year seems to me the only way of responding to all the madness happening around me. I can’t remember a year having started so chaotic and full of negativity. Looking to South Africa, we see the aftermath of the irrationality of our president for which mostly the poor will pay dearly. The Rand continuous to fall and the political parties are busy to capitalize on a very unhealthy social media storm over racism. In Africa it seems more leaders are tempted to extend their ruling into a life-time dictatorship and the battle between Daesh or ISL and the rest of the world continuous to cost precious lives. In the USA Donald Trump, since yesterday supported by Mrs Palin shows that even the word ‘stupid’ can be topped and in Europe the bill is paid for having a European Union not built on social equality and human rights but purely materialism and finances. The refugee crisis in Europe reveals the shadows of the so-called Christian Occident.  Looking from politics to the churches it seems that there are also wars going on – in my church it seems that preaching the gospel and trying to bring it to the people does not sit well with some of the people higher up the hierarchy or in the administration of the Vatican while the Anglican church seems to be split answering the question whether God’s creation of different people with different preferences was a good question or should be welcomed by God’s own people.
But there is the Year of Mercy – the door of mercy is wide open since the beginning of December and maybe this is the only ray of hope in this chaos of uncertainty, brutality, stupidity and maybe even clash of cultures and civilizations. I ask myself where will we be at the end of the year? Will reason and love prevail or will the world continue to spiral into the darkness of self prophecy and negativity? I am not sure – I will wait and see, but continue to do my little bit in the hope that all those millions of unnamed decent people doing the same by following their dream and vocation overcome at the end the madness of a world where according to Oxfam the 26 richest persons have as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population. And the richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined. Not sure I can be silent about that…

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

A year passed by…

Cape of Good Hope - Cape Town, South Africa

Cape of Good Hope – Cape Town, South Africa (Photo credit: David Berkowitz)

This was quite a year – and even as it is not ended yet, some reflections cannot harm. Lots of travel I have undertaken to further the cause of HOPE Cape Town. 5 overseas trips gave ample opportunity to introduce HOPE Cape Town to new friends, partners and sponsors but also kept “old friends” informed. A special thanks to the visitors from the Bavarian Parliament with Barbara Stamm and Franz Maget amongst others who assisted in organizing a 3 days visit to the European Union in Brussels to learn about the EU- SA relationship first hand. What an insight and a privilege. My annual trip to Dresden to attend the HOPE Gala is a must every year – what a delight to see many people again and again flocking to this event. The USA, Fr Paul, Joe and Shirley – we laid the ground for hopefully good joined work in the new year, not to forget the meeting at Fordham University in Manhattan.
At home here in Cape Town the Ball of HOPE proofed again to be a social highlight and a great marketing tool to keep the ideas of HOPE Cape Town floating. We welcomed new staff to the HOPE Cape Town Association, among them Izane as program coordinator with excellent skills and Charles, coming from Durban with lots of new ideas for marketing and fundraising. With Martin and Jacobus, two new trustees were inducted.
We mourned the death of our trustee Auntie Pat and were grateful to had her on board for so many years.New plans to develop HOPE Cape Town, to add programs like HOPE to HOME and identify other gaps in the roll out and care through the official health services were also on the cards .
For me, finding a spiritual home in supplying Holy Mass in Milnerton, Brooklyn and Manenberg amongst others was equally important as was the visit of “my” Bishop Stephan Ackermann from my Diocese of Trier. Showing him how project work, caritas, diakonia, missionary work in the best sense of the word – understood like Pope Francis does –  , pastoral work and the interaction between all these lines of work was important to him as it was to me.
Being a chaplain to sea and even being able to play a priest for a German TV production – quite some new experiences I don’t want to miss.
But there is also the sad part of life:
I already mentioned the loss of Aunty Pat. I also lost my dad and we here in South Africa lost with Madiba the father of the nation – and both within a week – quite a tough time and full of emotions I never thought I have in me. It also showed me that there is still a learning curve to accept death as part of life – nothing can prepare you when it comes close to you. All mental preparation is fading in minutes.

I was blessed to meet so many people from all walks of life who added to my life a great deal – I only can be grateful for that. Whether it was praise or critical words – it all helped me to try to be a better person. And there is surely enough room for improvement. 🙂

I am continuing reflecting on 2013 and looking forward to a 2014 full of life, joy, challenges – but I am sure – being unconditional loved by God – it will work out and add another exciting time period to my life time.

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

980 Millionen

English: BRICS counties. BRICS - Brazil, Russi...

English: BRICS counties. BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, People’s Republic of China, South Africa. Português: As Potências regionais. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

980 million Euro – that was more or less the contribution of the EU to South Africa as special development money in the last budget circle. And when I traveled to Brussels last month, the question was, how much the European Union might give in the new budget. There are countries like Germany advocating for zero Euro. Simply because South Africa falls short the markers set by the World Bank for being categorized a developing country. Being a preferred partner for the EU also doesn’t help nor does joining the BRICS countries. Corruption and attitude of some representatives of the political sector also doesn’t help a lot.

This money is not even one percent of the South African annual budget, but still: it was used in the past to try new approaches, it was the money used for going new ways of governance, health care, development of democracy and much more which never otherwise would be part of the normal budget provided by government. On the request of the South African Representation to the EU I tried to lobby for a new round of developing money as I believe that South Africa, stripped of attitude and corruption is in urgent need of assistance from outside. Go to the Eastern Cape and I visited Sterkspruit last year deep into the eastern part of the fairest Cape – and you feel beamed back into a third world country. And government and NGO’s depend on the goodwill of others – putting aside political talk about an “African Renaissance” and “new colonial treads” – even in the sector of HIV and AIDS we would not have come that far without the assistance of the Global AIDS Fund. So politicians are asked to set aside ideology or party politics and concentrate to better the life of the people. And to establish a good governance to be entrusted with resources from those who are able to donate and give.

980 million Euro – it is for sure that there will be not that amount of money given again for the new budget circle. But lets lobby that there is more than zero – European Embassies are called to look realistically at South Africa and report back honestly about the situation where still people starving, living under the minimum to sustain their lives, where housing, clean water, health are not accessible for all.  And the NGO sector also needs still that kind of support even if most of the money is anyhow given to government, some is essential for the work of civil society organizations and NPO’s.

There is no decision yet, but there remains hope that the EU will consider South Africa as what it is: a country which came a long way but is still not able to run its affairs without assistance from partners outside.

Filed under: Politics and Society, 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, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

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

Ball of HOPE 2020

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 23rd, 2020
9 months to go.
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