God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

HOPE Cape Town – 10 years ago

HOPE Cape Town is celebrating its 10th year in existence – how did it look in the beginning? Here an excerpt from a report back in 2002:

October 2000 – June 2001

Since October 2000 a “working committee” consisting of members of the 4 partners has worked out a proposal for a “hiv outreach program and education”, which was presented to the Superintendent of the Tygerberg Health Complex and the Minister of Health of the Western Cape in Winter 2001

June 2001 – October 2001

After the agreement the finer details as members of the management committee etc. were discussed and agreed about – the opening of the project was scheduled the 29th of October 2001.

29. October 2001

Opening of the HOPE project. 150 invited guests attend the opening at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital. The then Minister of Health in the Western Cape, Mr. Nick Koornhof, opens the project together with the Superintendent of the Tygerberg Medical Complex and the Dean of the University of Stellenbosch. Guest speaker is Clem Sunter, Chairperson of the Chairman’s Trust of Anglo American, one of the experts in the fields of HIV/AIDS and economics. The opening is attended also from an official delegation of traditional healers. A rabbi, a priest and an imam give the blessings. Further speakers are Urim Amiram (Lufthansa Cape Town), Axel Schwirtz (Consul General of Germany), Alwin Hirner (Hirner Jewellery), Anja Spandern (Southern African – German Chamber of Commerce and Industry – office Western Cape), Dr. Maart (Director of the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital), Mr. Lorenzo Raynard (In the pink radio on Bush radio).


30. October 2001

Clem Sunter speaks at a luncheon of the Southern African – German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and advertises HOPE as “the example for the future of South Africa”. This event is at the same time the official launch of the ticket sale for the so-called “Ball of HOPE”, which will take place at the ballroom of the Mount Nelson Hotel in cooperation with the Southern African – German Chamber of Commerce and Industry – office Western Cape. Rev. Fr. Stefan Hippler, Chairperson of the Management Committee speaks about the project and the ball during this luncheon.

1. November 2001 – 31. January 2002

Preparation for the occupation of the Ward at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital. In a time where the hospitals are cutting down on budget and beds the administration of the Children’s Hospital acknowledges the value of the project by renovating the ward called “Ithemba”, which is dedicated towards infectious diseases and the HOPE project. Tygerberg Children’s Hospital runs the ward with all expenses (doctors, nurses etc), which is its contribution towards the project. It is important to highlight this contribution; too often, the state withdraws quickly when it comes to partnerships and donation money is used to upgrade and renovate buildings etc. Here we can talk of a real partnership where all steps are discussed and everybody is contributing to reach the goals.

01.02. 2002

The “Ithemba” ward is occupied; doctors and nurses are working in the ward


Mrs. Eleonor Speelman is employed as the project coordinator of HOPE. Mrs. Speelman worked 28 years for Tygerberg Children’s Hospital as a qualified nurse. The good working relationship of Mrs. Speelman within the hospital helps the project tremendously to work efficient in the hospital environment.

The Management Committee is established through the following members:

Rev. Stefan Hippler                Chairperson

Dr. Robert Gie                        TCH – University

Dr. Mark Cotton                     TCH

Dr. Monika Esser                    German-speaking Catholic Community of the Cape

Kathrin Hoyos                        Rotary Club of Signal Hill

The Management Committee is meeting every first Tuesday a month to discuss all matters arising.

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

22.11.2009 4 weeks and already he is gone again

Exactly four weeks has my successor as the new chaplain to the German-speaking Catholic Community lived in Cape Town before leaving again. Living behind “burglar bars” was not his dream, a mugging added to the anxiety. It is a pity as once again it has been proven that the transfer of priests is not a chess game or goes according to files from the human resource department. For me it was sad to see that an obvious wrong transfer knows only losers: the person who was transferred, the community who was looking forward to have another priest and obviously also the Kath. Auslandssekretariat, which has shown that they ignored the realities of the persons and communities concerned.

I wish my successor, who is now back in Germany awaiting his new assignment, all the best. Thanks God the pastoral community council found a retired German priest who is able to supply for the rest of the year. And for me amazing to see how people now take more ownership and responsibility to maintain a certain level of service until a new chaplain will arrive somewhere next year. Nevertheless, after 12,5 years of building up a community, it is somehow frustrating to see how careless my previous headquarters puts at risk the work of many years.

As mentioned yesterday in my blog, my last “spiritual seminarian” will be ordained deacon on the 6.12. This is the first time that I will be at Nazareth House again and meet with the German-speaking Catholic Community. I have to attend this event after years of accompanying Dominik towards priesthood. His diaconate will be the first step of ordination, end of next year should then follow the ordination to the priesthood.

Finally a good start into the week also for HOPE Cape Town. We will get new offices at pharmacology in February next year. Then all senior staff will work in close proximity at the University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg Campus and also I will occupy an office there. But we still have to search for a new team secretary for the G7 Ithemba Ward. Also for February  next year – if you know a reliable person with secretarial knowledge and a lot of human values and a peoples person – let me know.

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

07.11.2009 First day in office and a final letter …

A first day in office after all my travel, and as it is almost every time the case, first one has to sort out all the papers brought with me from the trip – and just have a look through all mails, emails and requests waiting for my arrival.

It is a vast to-do-list I have made today – but I am sure when I work through Saturday and Sunday, I will be able to start fresh into the new week – at least almost fresh.. 🙂 There are so many encounters with people, I still have to work through, so many challenges and obviously a good time-table and organisation of work is a must.

Tuesday we will have HOPE Cape Town planing meeting – then I know better what kind of travel I will have next year – with the Okeumenischer Kirchentag in Munich, Vienna World AIDS Conference, Hope Gala Dresden and Berliner Aidsgala as well as the Bundespostivenkonferenz,  meetings regarding the Charite Exhibition and a further meeting in Rome with the papal council there seems to be lots of travel ahead. I hope that I am able to coop with all the demands. But the circle of friends of HOPE Cape Town is growing

Today, my previous headquarter of the Kath. Auslandssekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, the office dealing with the portfolio of German-speaking Catholic Communities, has given me notice, that they will cease taking donations for HOPE Cape Town. It seems that only the priest in the community counts – not the rest of the parish. The chairperson of the Pastoral Community Council is at the same time Chairperson of the HOPE Cape Town Association management – the project is not a “Stefan Hippler” initiative, but was an initiative out of the community – and HOPE Cape Town was until now a proud parent of HOPE Cape Town.

I will accept the ruling, why should I start arguing again – but I find it sad, that a clearly marked project which has identifiable links to the church and to the Cape Town German-speaking Catholic Community has now to rely on another way to channel the money and issue tax-deductible receipts. Thanks God I saw it come and the HOPE Kapstadt Stiftung can do all that in Germany. Nevertheless, I feel sad while another indication is sad, that personal dislikes of  one or two members of the Auslandssekretariats staff influence the donations stream for very needy people.

Evaluation of the higher legal interest would have done the trick.

But so, from February 2010 there will be no possiblity to send donation to HOPE Cape Town via the German Bishops Conference’s office of the Kath. Auslandssekretariat.

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

13.09.2009 Sunday eve

It is Sunday eve and after a day full of chatter, farewell celebration and lots of eating it is time to bid farewell to Durban. The mass this morning was full of well-wisher and once again I felt this special atmosphere and bond which exists between these good people and me. Lots of hugging and spontaneous joy as I revealed that I will stay in South Africa. Most of the people did not buy into the white lie of the press officer of the German Bishops conference that the termination of my contract was a “normal one”. It would have been easy to fuel the sense of betrayal and frustration; some told me of answers they got after writing to a bishop or the bishops conference and they felt not taken very seriously.  But they have been the lucky once, others even didn’t get an answer. I am not sure whether those responsible really know how they work in their ways against their own objectives to keep people in the church and to strengthen faith. They should be servants of the faithful and not the opposite. We still have a long way to go until the human structure of church becomes mature in this sense. Still too much puberty in the ranks… But I never give up hope. 🙂
Sunday afternoon an invite from the pastoral community council for coffee which happened to stretch until supper – with so much love prepared from Renate and Wolfgang, two parishioners who opened their home for us all. And once again challenging debates around the table. Those are the people who make so much efforts to keep a community going, to bring up their kids in our faith and at the end, all our hierarchy would be nothing and meaningless without the dedicated work of those on the ground. Sometimes I wonder how much wisdom and maturity we as a church miss out because we as the clergy tend not to listen carefully enough. And not only listen but following this – and here we are again – sensus fidelium and spiritual wisdom of those we call laity.  This blog is automatically also loaded to my Facebook side, and speaking about laity and their power, a facebook friend of mine, Jeff wrote a comment about his experience in his church and he ended:

Our parish has a tradition at baptisms where the priest not only makes the sign of the cross on the person’s forehead with chrism but also puts a hand embroidered stole (not a full sized one — they are made by people in the parish and are gifts to the newly baptized, even infants) around the neck of the baptized and says to that person, “you have put on the new life in Christ and are invested as a minister of the Gospel.” That is always a powerful reminder for me as a lay person when I hear those words spoken.

I also find this a powerful symbol and it shows the true power of Gods people, each and everybody is called to minister the faith and to be taken serious.

Well, this eve I feel indeed graced with all kind of things: the kind words, some little presents, quite some hugs, lots of good wishes and blessings and I had to promise that I will pop in next year somewhere and somehow. And I will do. I really will, not only because people here in Durban miss me but because I miss them also after 7 years of  service. I will miss Hermann, who always was worried about my stances on good old doctrine and we became friends, understanding each other 🙂 , I will miss Sr. Agnes, who always found somebody to baptize or confirm or visit when I was in Durban (but I really loved to serve under her 🙂 ), I will miss the talks with all the Mariannhill sisters and their struggle to maintain Mariannhill while growing older, I will miss the altar servers, who never let me down, Trudi and all of the pastoral community council, the finance committee counting the money faithfully after mass,  and all those friendly faces coming up to communion and listen so attentively when I tried to reach hearts and minds with my sermon.

Sizobonana & God bless them all!

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

10.09.2009 a first farewell and the living and the death…

In one hour the dinner for “my” pastoral community council starts and I must admit that it was a thrilling experience to work with all the members together. Great people and willing to go the extra mile to accomodate the needs of the Catholic community. But having them for dinner means also to remember all the members already called to higher services. We are, as Christians, the community of the living and the death; we believe that those gone before us only are a couple of steps in front of us, still approachable, still present, still connected, still very much alive. A great thought – and together with the “unconditional love of God to all and everybody” one of the highlights of Christian teaching. Comforting without taking away the sadness and grief when loosing a loved one, but keeping up some hope and a trust in the future of us all.
So I do solute already those who have to party apart from this world with us this eve – they are present – in our hearts and I am sure also more than that.

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

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