God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

Move the world

Move the world – in 100 days around the world

Joachim Franz launches his to date biggest “aids awareness expedition”

Under the leadership of AIDS activist Joachim Franz, mid April a convoy of 5 pick-ups will start their tour around the world. It is an adventure which might be a first of its kind.  12 men and women will conquer the world with the special mission: to move the world and to keep on challenging the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Then still 30 years into the pandemic, the figures are frightening: 33 Million people worldwide are carrying the virus; in 2009 1.8 Million people have been dying as a consequence of their HIV infection.

W = World

Vancouver in Canada will be the starting point of the expedition. From their, Joachim Franz and his team will follow a route around the world, which resembles a big “W” on the world map. North, Middle and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia are part of the 65 000 km route, ending in Australia with an imaginary point behind the “W”. Covering all continents also mean to connect the rich and the poor countries of this world: the rich ones, where HIV means to live with a chronic disease and the poor ones, where HIV means still in most instances death for many reasons.

Donation concept

Supported by the German Foreign Minister, Dr. Guido Westerwelle as patron of the expedition, the challenge is partnered by UNAIDS, the German AIDS Foundation, the German Embassies in the respective countries and other important representatives from the cultural and economic sector. In 50 countries, the participants of the expedition will meet with local and national representatives of the respective countries to understand the HIV/AIDS situation of the country, but also to challenge each and everybody to be part of the fight against HIV and AIDS. People who want to join the cause are asked to donate 1 Euro each – and in doing so supporting the creation of training facilities on all continents to intensify and optimize the work in the fields of HIV and AIDS.

Hardness test for men and material

The extensive route around the world passes different climate zones and unpredictable weather conditions. The vehicles must survive a tough ride over asphalt, pothole roads, gravel, sand and slick. But Joachim Franz and his team are well prepared: Five VW Amarok, fitted with the most modern navigation technology and each equipped with a 163-PS-TDI motor as well as double turbocharging and Commonrail open consumption direct injection, shiftable four wheel drive, rear suspension lock, terrain reduction and underride protection will take the challenge.  Under their hardtops all material is stored: water, equipment and all possible spare parts.

The double cabins will be the working, living and dining room of the team, and if there is resting time, mounted roof tents will provide some shelter. All team members are volunteers and they are coming from all walks of life: Company employees, student, worker, technician, pilot, Catholic priest, paramedic, pilot, entrepreneurs complimented by a team from the media to report on the progress in word and picture. This expedition will be a test of durability for men and vehicle and – due to the fact, that round tables and flights are fixed by day and time – a race against time. Who knows Joachim Franz will recognise this mixture of sportive challenge and HIV/AIDS awareness. Since already 10 years he mixes sports and adventure to make people aware of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the consequent suffering of those affected and infected. Donation money collected in the last expeditions support projects around the world, amongst others projects in South Africa, Asia and South America.

From toolmaker to the European of the year

Joachim Franz discovered his vocation while doing extreme sports – and always he encountered the plights of HIV and AIDS, be it in the townships of South Africa or the hospices in Manila or the homes for former prostitutes in Nepal. He invented the “aids awareness expedition” as his trademark to combat the HIV and AIDS pandemic. In the last 10 years he mountain biked the Sahara, he ran Marathon in South Africa, took on the Pan Americana by bike, conquered the 20 highest mountains between the north cape and Cape Town and added several extreme accomplishments involving the Pik Pobedy (7349 m) close to China or the Aconcagua (6959 m) in the Andes. For his dedication he was elected “European of the year” (Readers Digest Europe) in 2009, he was awarded the “Prix Romantik Liebold” of the Romantik Hotel Association and in 2010, he was the laureate of the HOPE Award in Dresden. “Move the world marks now the culmination of this idea: to move the world with a team of like-minded people through audacity, endurance and power – a way hardly tried by anybody else in this combination.

The globe is rolling through Europe

Besides the expedition a fundraising effort is launched in Europe with inflatable globes: A second team will travel through Europe and invite everybody to support the expedition – in pedestrian zones, schools, companies. Latter can order such big or small globes to do their own projects in support of the “move the world” expedition. People are invited to send in photos with themselves and the globe and showing so their solidarity with the expedition.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, , , , ,

11.11.2009 Suicide goalkeeper…

He was famous, still young, happily married – a star for many soccer fans and expected in South Africa for the Soccer World cup 2010 – and he ended with suicide. TV pictures showing fans laying flowers and burning candles in front of the stadium of Hannover 96, the cancellation of a National soccer match, tears and bewilderment. A rising star of the soccer heaven ending smashed by a train.

It ones again shows to me, how little we often know about people, how little we really care about what people going through. We take the life clippings we like to see and on the other side we produce for the world and the people around us the life clippings we want them to see. And sometimes, there is always a variety on such clippings, depending whom we meet. And very often, we ourselves believe that these cuttings are the real person, the real life.

He was scared of losing his child when he would come out in the open with the depression he suffered. And once again: how often do we think I cannot come out with this or that because.. because I am scared that nobody will understand, that people draw the wrong conclusions, that the reactions will hinder the blossom of life.

I also know this feeling to hold back, to give only life clippings, to hide some parts of the person I am – as we all know I guess… and sometimes one only wants to scream and shout and say: Here look at the real me – look at me  in a holistic way, look into the eye of a real life, which always has so many facets from dark till light colour. But we don’t do and we are becoming artists and experts in hiding.

Exactly at this point I think that our Christian faith can give us the possibility, at least in front of ourselves to be honest in presenting ourselves – this unconditional love of God we are talking about in almost every church service could liberate us from all hiding. And if we only start to be honest to ourselves and our significant other – but there already it starts.
I do remember a chat with a friend of mine where we reflected on how we are able to communicate our lives to others – and we asked ourselves who, except us, do know all major facets of our lives. We share with different people different parts of our life – but who, except God, does know it all or at least most of it?

We both opened up at that time and I must say that was the beginning of a liberation I did not experienced until then – the beginning of a deep friendship without hiding, a feeling of being accepted as one is – no need for selection. I am very grateful to this friend until this very day, he is a blessing in my life and for my life and I am grateful for every time, we meet and can share. In certain moments, he was a life line in the last year.

Our life is to precious as that we waste it or waste our energy in covering up and hiding. Surely, there are matters, we don’t want to read in the headlines of the newspapers; but I wish for everybody a circle of friends and trusted persons who represent the unconditional love of God in their respective life. And the courage, to expand this own limitation of truthfulness and open acknowledgement of own realities as much as possible. It would indeed in my opinion make the world a better place for all.

Also in the fields of HIV and AIDS, this unconditional love, this truthfulness to one’s own diversity and all shadows of grey in between is a major topic when it comes to combat stigma and discrimination.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

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