God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

Sometimes it hurts… Another day @ the conference

Today, the second day of the conference, is my focal point more on HIV and faith-based organizations. So the day starts early with an interview for the Catholic “domradio” in Cologne. Next to networking with people of this field I also read some comments about the conference and one got my attention immediately. It is written by Dr P. B. and published not only on his blog but also on the internet news of kath.net, a more right-wing Catholic news website in the German language.
The headline “what really helps against new infections” got as said my attention and already the first sentence of the article gave the answer: “With the simple approach to live chaste till marriage and then be faithful to the partner within marriage 99% of all risk factors are eliminated”.
Wow, I thought really impressive. And I guess with a similar strategy can we can empty our prisons as everybody has to remain honest and non-violent instead of stealing or murdering someone and the problem is 99% solved. The logic of the article culminates in the argument, that people become infected because they don’t listen to the pope – and mentions Africa and specially Catholic areas on the continent where such prevention work has great success.

Such argumentation makes me speechless, but I was comforted through a podium in the afternoon where a pastor from Malawi told us about his experience in seeing HIV and AIDS as a challenge to come out of our comfort zones church normally provides and to give answers needed ending stigma and discrimination. He also was very critical of certain forms of development aid European or US style: “Africans can think of their own” , so the pastor and the audience underlined it with laughter and applause. An US American pastors wife told us from her experience working in Rwanda and a Thai monk about the great work, he is doing on the level of interfaith. He and his fellow clergyman, monks and imams are also looking for those caring for people living with HIV and AIDS. A humbling experience just to listen how those people gave witness about their calling to get involved in the battle against the pandemic.

This is what we need in our churches, mosques, synagogues and temples: people who believe honestly that HIV and AIDS is a challenge, not only for a personal life, but for the way we believe, we pray, we worship, we see our brothers and sisters. Yes, we need those people in our churches, mosques, synagogues and temples who are not afraid to open up, network beyond the borders of faith and denomination or religion. We need people who are simply not afraid to listen to their calling which overcomes human boundaries and is driven by the unconditional love towards their fellow neighbors.

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

07.06.2010 Website and more

At 9 am my first radio interview for the day with a broadcaster from Berlin about South Africa before the Soccer World Cup 2010.  Then meeting at HOPE Cape Town offices to discuss the layout for the new HOPE Cape Town website. We are living in a time where the internet presentation is of importance. The discussion goes around details in layout and how it will be maintained afterwards. It is a very intensive debate. From Tygerberg back to town for a meeting before heading back to be ready for the next interview – same topic plus additional information about HIV/AIDS and South Africa. In between emails and getting an overview over the weeks agenda.

In the evening then a house mass @ Resi’s place – a tradition of many years. 8 people around the table, a service and afterwards a meal and a lively discussion ranging from soccer to the state of affair of our church. It is one of the occasions where I feel what it means to be a priest, connecting to people in a way, which is becoming so rare with all the management duties, a priest of  our days has to perform.

When I come home I realise, that now the talk show is aired where I was participating last Monday – well, let’s see what the reactions are in the next days to come… AIDS prevention and the invention of “the pill” – topics where one as a priest has a difficult stand in our days…

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , ,

15.05.2010 Third Day of the Ecumenical Church Day in Munich

Saturday and the last day of the Ecumenical Church Day in Munich. Together with Fr Wim we venture into the city of Munich – all over Munich, the churches are open during day and some during night to give chance for prayer and the experience of silence. On the “Marienplatz” we attend a prayer service – it is amazing to see, how the people join in into the singing even the temperatures are freezing cold today. Then we quickly pop into the “Virtualienmarkt” and later to buy some chocolates for the altar servers of Manenberg – German chocolate is different to their not so tasty South African counterparts… 🙂

The afternoon sees us heading again to the trade fair center – last meetings and an interview for the SWDR are scheduled. In Trier, there will be the nights of lights beginning of June – and the donations obtained at that occasion are partly for HOPE Cape Town. A good opportunity to speak about the work, HOPE Cape Town is doing as well as specific church related problems within the prevention work in our days.

At the OEKT Lounge, I bump into the Federal Minster of Interior –  a brief chat and hopefully we see each other again in South Africa during the Soccer World Cup or latest at the annual HOPE Gala in Dresden. A brief chat with one of  the auxiliary bishops of Trier and Martin, who happened to do an internship in Cape Town and is now a so-called “Gemeindereferent” in German parishes.

Then time to go back again to the inner city of Munich to attend a special service at the St. Lukas parish – a full church, beautiful hymns, a good and dynamic sermon – church as it should be. We leave with inner joy and walk back through the cold night to our hotel for some dinner. Another day full of experiences not to be missed and the reflection shows, that the networking was indeed working: we have many invitations and we had many meetings where a follow-up is needed still this year. All will benefit our work at home a great deal.

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

15.03.2010 ORF

An interview with the ORF about the churches stance on HIV and AIDS for a documentary occupies quiet a time in the afternoon. Before brief discussion with co-workers at the Ithemba office. Tomorrow the offices will move to the 7th floor of the University of Stellenbosch – Tygerberg Campus. On Thursday we will interview a person to be the team secretary, a person amongst others looking after the hospital side and the Ithemba ward. To run an organisation means so many small and bigger things to deal with during the day. It means in our days sometimes too many requests, emails and with 28 employees a lot of coordination and communication. It is again and again a challenge to keep all together, specially when one is spread so far apart like our HOPE community health workers in their 17 township communities.

In the morning a longer discussion with one management member about the HOPE Kapstadt Stiftung and the future of this particular trust. We agree about steps to take to ensure developement into what we see as the right direction. Long and medium term planing is needed besides all the day-to-day business.

A full Monday with office work in between – not to forget the hairdresser before the TV interview. Yes, also a priest wants to look good 🙂

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

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