God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Shitstorms….or some thoughts on social media in our days

It is amazing to follow social media and to see the storms of civil commotion and agitation from all walks of life on various issues getting people into a fever of excitement. Be it a question of racism like Mr Hards or Mrs Penny’s tweets in South Africa about entitlement and filth at the beach, be it a question of sexism like the word ” pantyprenuers” at an ANC anniversary meeting – or be it the discussions about the events in Cologne in Germany where more than 100 women laid charge against men looking like those “from North Africa” because of theft, rape and other criminal or unlawful behavior. My observations are not dealing with the matters as such but with the reactions on social media – it’s rather a search for the reasons of feeling often uncomfortable with what is posted or put out on social media. And these thoughts are indeed just thoughts, not conclusions or determinations.

It seems that everybody has an opinion and hammers the internet with this opinion, people getting into fights with each others, being disciplined, suspended, kicked out, threatened with physical attacks and other promises of revenge. Racism and sexism seems to be like a cudgel to accuse the other side not being in tune with the own opinion. Social media suddenly turns into a madhouse of accusations, threats, counter accusations and most people have obviously not only an opinion but also a remedy to avoid repeat of the perceived or real misconduct or criminal act; they know exactly how to battle racism, sexism, crime, discrimination and all the rest of it.

Seeing this in the framework of a world in various difficulties and seemingly overwhelming situations like the refugee crisis in Europe, the wars in the Near East, the battle of minds and ideologies in various African countries I can’t help the question to ask how this all ties together – what is it that make people so furious, so angry, so sure that they are right and most others wrong, so willing to defend positions, analysis, thoughts, impressions as the only valid and right ones.

My guess is it is often their own insecurity and anger and let me explain this:
It seems to me that the world is changing dramatically with all the access to information 24/7, all the constant input from politics, religion and society from the other end of the world as it would happen around the corner. Cellphones and tablets are peeping all the time announcing new messages and news. It seems to me like an information overflow – we cannot handle as human beings the constant influx and to counter it, we retreat to safe ground, either defending our own little world at any cost or running with the majority of opinions to not to lose out or been seen on the wrong side of society – in both cases up to the extreme. And if one gets “flack” – opinions suddenly are perceived as treats, as attacks and dealt with accordingly. The war of words begins…
Reading the sometimes tough and verbally violent opinions and demands on social media, the judgements without often knowing the facts and – or – just going with the flow I read in it the anger of a world getting more and more complex, offering too many options and possibilities, a freedom of choices while on the other hand governed by more and more automated systems in administration and society leaving less and less room for humanity and provisions for the individual case. Never ending information floods from everywhere in a seemingly smaller and more regulated world makes social media the perfect outlet for all the anger and frustration. The constant flow of information seems to force us to immediate reaction and comments – reading headlines on Facebook allow already for the like button and 140 letters of Twitter are enough to describe a complex situation.

Social media can be a wonderful tool to connect and to find related minds, it is indeed a great tool for social movements but as with all things it can also be used to marginalize and outcast, to create sentiments hurting people and societies but it never replaces real dialogue and the need for personal encounters. We have to acknowledge the limitations of communicating on social media – and we have to develop a tolerance and understanding that a person is more than the brief twitter or the status report – and that posting a link might be meant to stimulate discussion rather than portraying it as the own opinion. And we all know that sometimes our mouth is faster than our brain – and we have to realize that social media might be less forgiving than a spoken word retracted immediately.

So what I wish for is:
* read first and then share or post; don’t trust the headline
* think first and let anger vanish before posting
* give other posts the benefit of the doubt if possible
* raise your voice against xenophobia, sexism, racism, but in a dignified way and report it to the relevant authorities
* no tit for tats – it pollutes the social media

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

Tell me, what makes HOPE Cape Town special?

Planing strategy and looking at the state of affair as it is in the moment: HOPE Cape Town has always to check its relevance and its direction for the future. It is an ongoing process. And as the word “HOPE” is used more often in the broader Cape Town area since the visit of Angela Merkel there is a need to have a proper marketing strategy and a distinctive logo and branding. The logo is in existence and even protected, what keeps an organization in Kwazulu Natal not away from advertising themselves with our logo. It seems some are going to an extreme length to try to cash in.

Nevertheless it would be interesting to hear from our supporters and sponsors what they think is unique or laudable on the work HOPE Cape Town is doing? What do our Facebook and Twitter friends think or value most? Please feel free to give it a thought – check our website if need be and let me know: stefan (at) hopecapetown.com. Or leave a message on our Facebook page, twitter us or comment on this blog.

I would be thrilled to hear from you and to have reflection on the picture as we are received from the outside. It would make another strong contribution to the development of HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust. Hear from you.Many thanks 🙂

SH

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

HOPE Cape Town is developing…

Tomorrow is the Annual General Meeting of the HOPE Cape Town Association, the working arm of HOPE Cape Town which consists of two arms: aforesaid HOPE Cape Town Association which is combining all the project work on the ground and HOPE Cape Town Trust, which is leading in fundraising and marketing of the work done. Together with the German AIDS Foundation, the HOPE Cape Town Trust has a common “child”, called HOPE Kapstadt Stiftung, a dependent trust governed by German law.  To complete the picture the HOPE Cape Town family has also very close relatives:  the Kuratorium Deutschland, which relates to the HOPE Cape Town Trust and is looking together with Viola Klein to support the HOPE Gala Dresden (26.10.2013). The Freundeskreis HOPE Cape Town Trust Olching e.V. is another German and Bavarian support group of the HOPE Cape Town Trust. Not to forget HOPE & Future e.V. in Münster (Germany), which is an essential part of our supporting family. And we HOPE to give birth in the near future also to an US American entity relating to HOPE Cape Town.  And locally our brainchild is also the Ball of HOPE together with the Southern-African – German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, next year taking place on the 11th of May 2014.

There is the idea of spreading the word about the “friends of HOPE Cape Town” and if you think, you can get some people together forming a small group supporting the goals of HOPE Cape Town, then feel free to contact me for further information. HOPE Cape Town depends like any other public benefit organization on the support of many – so HOPE Cape Town understands itself as much more than a local organization – we are a network of people trying to better the lives of South African’s living with HIV and TB and everything related to it.
Sometimes I am asked why TB and why we not concentrate on HIV? The answer is very simple: TB is the twin-sister of HIV in South Africa and to combat only HIV would not making sense. They are interlinked, and so are the other social problems attached to it. Studies have shown that poverty, unemployment and unfavorable conditions lead to early death even if treatment is available. So there is so much more to HIV and AIDS. And there is so much more to do – whatever we can do as HOPE Cape Town depends on resources, manpower and funds. We have grown to 31 employees and our portfolios range from the vegetable garden in Blikkisdorp to academic research @ the University of Stellenbosch. It will depend on the ongoing and additional support of people like you, the reader of this blog, whether we can enhance our work and do more to give people hope and future.  We are willing to go the extra – mile; come and join us in one of the many ways possible:

* Donation: All our donation options are summarized on our website under donation

* Tell friends about HOPE Cape Town and ask them to have a look at our website

* Maybe you consider to donate to capital (Zustiftung in German language) and make you money work for a good cause for eternity…
* Find a circle of friends to become ambassadors of HOPE – we can assist you in this…

* Visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Cause, share the links and stories and follow us

For all donations and donations to capital applies in Germany and South Africa: We are able to issue a tax-deductible receipt for the respective county.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Gala Dresden, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The world in which we live..

NBC Nightly News broadcast

NBC Nightly News broadcast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not sure that is common experience but I was always interested in putting my work and my immediate surroundings into the context of what happens around the world. And sometimes I feel overwhelmed from all the bad news coming via different news channels. But they touch me somehow and influence me in a way I am not sure I can define in a proper way.
Looking around me there is the big scandal of espionage – who ever thought Facebook is not safe now knows that there seems to be all stops pulled to gain access to all emails and chats. I never thought, that internet is safe, but knowing that there is a systematic approach to bend the law and obviously dismiss the freedom and privacy of ordinary citizens under the pretext of security brings this knowledge to a new level and is depressing.
Yesterday the pope visited the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa and urged help for desperate migrants who risk their lives getting there – I am impressed and a bit proud that humanity and a joyful approach to our faith is visible in our leadership. And it feels good that there is a sense of openness again within our church; there is a sense of being allowed to speak out freely and without fear – what a blessing.
Syria – how often have I experienced the hospitality of Syrian people and Egypt where a colleague of mine is stationed – the travesty of politics in both cases shows how little respect our political systems have when it comes to the Arabic spring and it’s people concerned.
From Europe there comes the news that two more people seems to have lost their infection after a bone-marrow transplant, these are some good news from overseas. Here in South Africa we watch with horror the ugly Mandela soap opera – where the fight about the inheritance already has begun before the great statement has even closed his eyes.

We cannot escape the world we live in, and I sometimes wonder, what kind of influence this world has in all the needy township communities, where also news and soap operas impact on the minds and hearts of people. How does it affect the people seeing the madness of the big world and of course of their small world – the glitter of high society life mirrored in South African but also US soap operas but also the obvious corruption of their politicians, the wealth of the few who made it out of poverty and now play big shots in politics and society without being too much concerned about the well-being of their fellow citizens.

Working as a priest and working with people living with the HI virus means working in a micro – environment. It is work on the very personal level of society. But I cannot help but continue to wonder how much the bigger scenario interacts with this very personal level and how the overwhelming flood of information through all kinds of media makes life and touching each others lives more difficult and challenging.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Internet based health tracker

mobile phone mast

mobile phone mast (Photo credit: osde8info)

My Health Tracker is a webpage under the “thebody.com” and it can help you organize your HIV treatment information privately and securely in one place. This way, you can take better charge over your health and keep track on what you are doing and how you take your medication.Whether with computer or cellphone or mobile tablet – all these items turn into a source of support. My labs keep track of your laboratory blood results, My meds helps you to list all your medication taken. My journal allows for a sort of diary and My reports let one create various graphs and reports to be printed out and take for example with to your doctor. In one word: An amazing helpful website recommended for those anyhow connected to internet via modern communication tools. And frankly: most people even in South Africa have a cellphone which can be used for social networks like Facebook. So it is simple just to add another and this time life-supporting tool for those living with the HI virus. To get to the relevant page click here.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

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

Ball of HOPE 2020

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