God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

Bridging continents

Fr Wim Lindeque, HOPE Goodwill Ambassador Katlego Maboe , Fr Stefan Hippler with Children of the Manenberg Afterschool Development Centre, a partner organization of HOPE Cape Town in Manenberg.

Preparing for my next trip starting in 2 days to Europe I also have to see to the talks I will give, the PowerPoint I will design to bolster the words spoken and to give color and pictures supporting the imagination of those listening and interested to know more about the work of HOPE Cape Town. The longer I am in this sort of business to connect different worlds I realize how difficult it has become to bring one world to another and to make sure, words are understood in the sense they are intended.

Yes, we speak the same language, we use the same words, but the framework of thinking, the weight of education and upbringing, the scenarios of real life experience seems sometimes so far away from the life presented in a talk or workshop.
How to bring the despair of a family living under the poverty line to somebody who has never experienced hunger?
How to bring the cold and the wet of a Cape Town winter day in Blikkiesdorp into the warm German homes?
How to explain the plight of not knowing what the day will bring in the Cape Flats and who will lie shot death in the crossfire of the gangs later that day in the dark morgue of Cape Town?
How to balance the hopelessness of so many South Africans against the possibilities and the beauty of a country rich on resources but suffering under a corruption so obvious that it hurts – with no European logic left to explain that people don’t rise up and stop allowing the abuse of those capturing the state entities.

Blikkiesdorp – semi-permanent housing close to the airport

Besides the difficulties to bring the world of Africa to Europe – or even the USA – there is also the way to fund-raise a complete different one. Perception how to assist and help is different in Europe compared with Africa – and once again completely different in the USA. So whatever you do, one has to reflect and think clearly who are the people one wants to address and how to creep in their minds and hearts and connect the dots so far away from each other.

Being a small organization in Africa, but connected with two other continents is a constant challenge – times of pure charity for those in far away Africa as I have known in in my childhood are gone – and I guess this is good like it is.
Solidarity, love of the neighbor and the stranger as requested by most religions need in our days strangely lots of translation work – the global village has quite some gaps to fill to make the connection a solid and understandable one.

But be it as it is – the challenge is on for me for the next 4 weeks to bring Blikkiesdorp, Tygerberg Children’s Hospital and it’s people, family and kids and also those of our partners in Manenberg and Delft to all those who are willing to listen, to learn and to connect – in different ways, with different possibilities – but at the end as a blessing for all being touched by the work of HOPE Cape Town.

 

Munich – Presentation to the Wirtschaftsbeirat of Bavaria

Filed under: Africa, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Cape Town USA, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , ,

As 2016 winds down…

As the year 2016 comes to a close, there is the usual time of reflection. On first view 2016 was indeed for the global community a very sad year: populism was triumphant, in the USA a self absorbed womanizer was elected to be the next president and as even history shows that you can’t run a country like a business as Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy clearly showed – the US system granted victory to the next failure with dire consequences to be seen if I may add. The human race is not learning nor is it able to master and digest what modern science and social media throw at them. After creating the global village and interconnecting with each other – humans are back to nationalism, patronism and guidance by anxiety and promised simple solutions.
In Germany, my home country this all reflected in the drama unfolding regarding refugees, the strengthening of the right-wings, the clash between those following in the footstep of reborn Neonazis and common sense and the uphold of human rights. A battle endangering the European Union symbolized in the Brexit and in the high amount of votes in the Austrian presidential elections. It seems that balance is lost and panic rules.In South Africa 2016 was the year of the Zuptas, the state capture, Nakandla, the SABC8 – and if conspiracy theories to capture a state are known in fiction, it shows reality in the Gupta’s attempt with the help of a president, who surely would have been a great village elders but he is completely out of place as a leading statesman. The mixture of tradition, corruption, brutality, streetwise cleverness is breath-taking and dangerous. And it hurts those suffering the most: the poor people of South Africa.
In this context the systems human mankind created to organize itself are not only abused in a constant way from those in power, but they also develop a perfection which makes them inhumane to its core. The spirits we created are taking over and it seems that compassion, seeing every situation as what it is, indeed a special one, as an impossible undertaking.
An example is the ongoing discussion in the Roman-Catholic Church about Amoris Laetitia: it shows a great example that people are resisting to except that there is no black and white, or in the computer language “zero” and “one” – systems have to be clear cut and judgements have to follow this rule. The law, which is an expression of mercy is seen as a threat to order when applied with the component of conscience and judged situation recognized as unique.
All in all the complexity of life and the interconnection with the possibilities of social media and constant news updates of all sorts seems to overstrain most humans and counter the believe in globalization – the pendulum is going into the opposite direction with a dire outlook into 2017. Anxiety and populism are governing our global village and both are used and abused to keep all afloat for the benefit of a few.

In this scenario the work of NGO’s and community based initiatives like HOPE Cape Town and millions of others are mere drops in the ocean – but those drops seem to me the only hope we have to survive the waves of inhumanity serving those aforesaid few. Those drops are the basis to conquer the negativity and abuse happening in our days, be it religious, social or political – those drops will make sure that 2017 will see rays of hope, rays of faith, rays of love reaching those suffering under the systems which try to maintain the status quo of this world.

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

Silence or the aftermath of a living legend

Done – the 10th HOPE Gala in Dresden is part of history and most guests from far have left the city again – others have returned to their daily struggle in so many different ways. There is always that feeling of emptiness after such a big event – memories are formed, thoughts are structured and emails and pictures and newspaper clips remind you on what happened not so long ago.
Silence – I can hear the silence breaking through after days of meetings, encounters, celebrations, dinners, touching moments – and one is again alone with oneself.
But one memory is sticking in my head – another encounter with the living legend Harry Belafonte, “Mr B” as his daughter Gina called him. Charity dinner and HOPE award – and some moments of having a conversation with him. Movie clips recall the first black entertainer appearing on US TV together with a white performer. A friend of Martin Luther King, part of the black movement and the march onto Washington; his fight for civil rights in the USA, his travels and advocacy for Africa and especially South Africa and his friendship with Nelson Mandela – all coming to life in a 10 minute trailer during the charity dinner. But one sentence is still stuck in my mind: “I have never thought that I will campaign and fight for the same things 50 years later again”, he recalls while attending to racial violence in the suburbs of US American cities.
With 88 years, it seems the conclusion is that the fight never stops and that one can do so little only to be change the world or parts of it. But at the same time he is such an inspiration and encouragement while speaking and sharply analyzing the situations of todays world and confirming that he believes in the goodness of humanity.
And he is charming – telling me that “Fr Stefan and Pope Francis” are giving him hope for the Catholic Church and reconciles him a bit as a born Catholic with his church is obviously music in the ears of a priest working in South Africa . But it is also more than flattery after his also long personal struggle with the Catholic Church. And it does not end there: He has the ability to encourage and touch the lives of people instant and with a smile and an aura I have only so far experienced when I met Nelson Mandela. One can feel the struggle, the wisdom and the maturity, but also the goodness of a person without making him an instant saint – he remains human and looking at eye level.Silence – and somehow lots of faces are appearing in my mind – all those people I met during the events in Dresden, all the people who simply gave up time and / or money to come to attend, to support, to give, to share, to participate, to contribute and to make sure that Dresden is heard in this world as a city with heart and soul caring for those infected and affected by HIV and Aids far away in South Africa. For me that is another magic to be touched by the friendliness and commitment of thousands of people in the last 10 years being faithful to one cause – not letting us down but continuing to believe that sharing is making the world a better place. Ubuntu in the best sense of the word.

Silence outside, but inside there are volcanic eruptions of thoughts, of gratefulness, of yearning for a better world, for bridging the gap; there is exhaustion and joy, but also the resolutness to stand up and walk another year in the hope of touching lives and bridging gaps to better the world by assisting those less fortune. And the hope that one day this seemingly endless struggle succeed and the world is a better place for all. Remember these words from the son “We are the world..”? A song Mr B organised to make us all aware of our responsiblity – until today.

I want to conclude this silent reflection with a thanks to Saxonia Systems, Viola and Hermjo Klein, ParX and Michaela Gornickel and her team and all involved in the 10th HOPE Gala in Dresden. You are all in my heart which is grateful forever.Foto Michael Schmidt vl Viola Klein Harry Belafonte Stefan Hippler001

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, HOPE Gala Dresden, Reflection, , , , , , ,

Gratefulness and compassion

Sometimes it is time to sit down and simply reflect on the work one is doing day by day – holding in, letting the world stand still for a moment. For me such a moment was after hearing about the Erawan Shrine bombing in Bangkok, one of my favorite places in Bangkok to go and sit for hours and just doing it: sitting there, observing, praying, just “being” in the presence. In our world it seems that even such places are not protected anymore from the madness of sick human minds, and adding the cruelty and abuse of Islam by ISIS, the streams of refugees running away from civil war and dictatorship and corruption, exploitation and diminished chances of living their human rights in Africa it seems that the world is upside down in the moment. And we easily forget that there is also a counter stream, a stream of goodness, a stream of unsung heroes of humanity, decency and compassion.
And we only have to look into our own lives to acknowledge this goodness. Where would we be without the kindness of others, of parents, family members, friends, colleagues, co-workers, yes, when I look at my work with HOPE Cape Town –  sometimes completely strangers who just support what one is doing, a touch of humanity flowing from one to another without having the chance to meet the person in person.
Dresden in Germany is in the moment often in the news for all the wrong reasons – protests showing little signs of humanity but rather ignorance and hostility against refugees. But for me it is countered by all those actions making those running for their lives made feel welcome and of course not to forget the HOPE Gala in Dresden. For 10 years there are people caring for those less fortune in South Africa with incredible efforts, tons of love and compassion. For 10 years people from all over Germany flock to Dresden to enjoy an evening of entertainment and joy and doing good at the same time. It is up to me to choose what I want to see, what stream I want to follow, what I want to support, to cherish, to be grateful for… And I am sure if more and more I see the good in people, more and more I appreciate the bond of goodness and compassion, and more and more I can develop my own compassion and in return strengthen those strengthening me. Does it make sense? Yeap, for me it does and it is the only way to change the world for the better- against all odds.

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

Mandela Day & Tierra, techo y trabajo

Today it happens again like it happened the last years: everybody wants to be involved for 67 minutes – and especially those so-called VIP’s are keen to be seen with children, packing food parcels, donating blankets or whatever – just to make sure that everybody acknowledges their good heart and intention. And I don’t doubt these intentions at all, but I always ask myself what happens after the 67 minutes? What happens to those being fed, being cloth, being catered for the next morning, when they wake up in the same misery as the day before? What’s about the other 365 days and 22 hours and 53 minutes of the year? Waiting for the next Mandela Day – for the next invite to be part of the icon’s legacy? I don’t want to sound sarcastic but while doing also my 67 minutes and more in Blikkiesdorp yesterday morning to honor this legacy – I was looking into the faces of those we served and honestly, I partly felt bad knowing, that the rain jacket, the sweets and the porridge might be the highlight of their day but not changing their lives profoundly. Well, being lucky and knowing, that our organization HOPE Cape Town is working since years in this semi-permanent community I felt assurance that it was not a once off but part of a bigger effort to aid and help this very community of almost 15 000 people at the outskirts of Delft. But it remains that unsatisfactory feeling not being able to do more, to turn around those lives and giving them what Pope Francis described in three Spanish words as the fundamental rights of every human being: Tierra, techo y trabajo.  It was translated into English very loosely “land, roof and work” but I think this translation does not fit exactly the Spanish meaning. What the pope is saying and not only saying but demanding is that everybody has the right to have a piece of land he calls his own and yes, with a roof under which he can lay his head at night. But roof means more, it means a real home, a real protected place he feels secure and safe together with his loved once. And added is the right to have work, to be able to earn a living, a decent living and not a hand-out, not a social grant but the dignity, only own work can bring to a person. And it is about dignity, about the possibility to create and follow your own dream how to live you life, to be able to have a good education, a protected home, a loving family, an honest earned income to sustain this life. We in South Africa are far away from this dream of tierra,techo ytrabajo – not only in Blikkiesdorp but even in the posh suburbs of the cities a protected home seems to be an illusion just reading the headlines of a daily newsletter: robberies, intrusions and murder are making screaming headlines and the private security business is booming. And with more than 24% unemployment and the gross number of social grant recipients we are far away from “work for all” who should be able to do so. Maybe we should think of a Mandela moment next year where we don’t do hand outs but put our minds together and go for real change in distributing wealth and work, in giving more people the chance to get a better education, a real working environment, a chance to proof themselves and earn a decent living. Just a thought…

Mandela Day - a hand-out is simply not enough

Mandela Day – a hand-out is simply not enough

They need a real dignified future

They need a real dignified future

Filed under: Africa, Catholic Church, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

13th HOPE Gala Dresden

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

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
5 months to go.

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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