God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

Welcome in Manenberg

This afternoon the World AIDS Awareness Expedition was due to have a reception in Manenberg after a Round Table at the German Consulate General. Unfortunately the team did not make it yet till Cape Town, still stuck somewhere between Kinshasa and the border to Angola – so the latest news. The kids of the Amy Biehl Foundation – RC Church afterschool care had prepared for this big event and so the organizers of HOPE Cape Town had decided to go ahead with the programme. Instead of the team it was my task to take the kids to follow the route of the expedition so far and to tell them about my experience with the almost 5 weeks, I joined the team in the Americas. Photos and video clips made the talk an easy to follow one and it was great to see those present feel to be part of a bigger picture, of a closer coming world, of a global village we often forget to realize in all the dramas of daily struggle.
Three team members, awaiting news from the team and supposed to join in Cape Town, almost the whole board of the HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Community Health Workers joined the parishioners and kids as well as Fr Wim. For me it was great to see how kids have learned on their instruments since beginning of the year. And the hiphop dancers were really marvellous. Not to forget the catering, so that nobody had to go home hungry. I guess we went home all with the feeling that ‘move the world” also takes place in Manenberg, thanks to many who assist within and outside the community.

Yesterday evening I gave a talk for students of the Duke University at the Mediterranean Villa – interesting to engage with young adults from the US, especially as two of the students are volunteer at our organisation. Once again worlds came together which are normally far away. Also that moves the world in many ways.
So as I write this blog entry, I am deeply moved by what I have seen, heard and encountered the last 24 hours. It is indeed a blessing to be part of bringing worlds together and maybe assist, together with others, to make the world a better place.

And for the expedition we all hope that they find a good way to continue they trip and their very important mission for the world.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Networking, , , , , , , , , ,

27.01.2010 a normal day..

Standing up at 6h10 this morning, and being at the office before 7am. First checking emails & news before going to town. Meeting with my co-operation partner Anja Tambusso Ferraz from the Southern African – German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Petra Reichwein from the Mediterranean Villa to discuss the next Ball of HOPE, to be held on the 22nd of May 2010 at the Westin Grand Hotel. A bit later our musical director Adolf Thelen joins to discuss the musical arrangements. After that planing for the service on Ash Wednesday for the Holy Cross Primary School in Brooklyn.  Back to the office and working on reducing the stable of papers, files and folders on the desk, answering letters, phone calls before heading off again to an interview regarding a volunteer position during soccer world cup 2010. I am considered for a “protocol position” and faced with 3 interviewers I try to answer all the questions. It is amazing to sit again in an interview on the side with the one chair.. 🙂

Back to the office, more phone calls, more paper work, some preparations for tomorrow for a talk and some meetings and at 6pm home, only to meet with friends at 7 for dinner. Back home at 9h30 pm – some reading of theological nature and now the blog and a last check on emails. Preparing some papers for the senior staff meeting of HOPE Cape Town tomorrow and for my sergeant duties at the Rotary meeting tomorrow noon time.  A day is done… nothing extra-ordinary but enough left for tomorrow and the rest of the week.

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

12.09.2009 The olive tree

During all the hectic in the last days I totally forgot to mention, that my pastoral community council presented me with a small olive tree – knowing, that I love this sort of things. I promised to look after him very very careful and I will find an appropriate place for the tree. May he grow and grow, like the other two, we have on the premises of the Mediterranean Villa. The older one was already a small tree when I bought the Villa for the German Bishops Conference, the second was planted by Karin in memory of her parents – and also this one is already in a juvenile stage. Olive trees are marvellous – while I was living in Andalusia (Spain), I could never have a enough of seeing olive trees, these old “knorrige” trees – ages old and still bringing fruit. A symbol for fertility, the fruits delicious prepared in so many different ways and even the wood is special.

This olive tree will still stand and grow somewhere when I am already dead and maybe the German speaking Catholic Community gone – and it will bear witness from a time where people gave it to me to bring some joy into my life. I am really grateful for this gift. May it blossom and bring fruits for the next generation.

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

10.09.2009 Thursday morning

I just got into the office and thought it would be nice after all the evening notes to write one in the morning. A new day is laying ahead of me – blue skies, sun – a beautiful spring day in Cape Town. A dentist appointment is the only misery ahead this day as I hate dentists. Dentists are associated with discomfort and pain. But on the other hand: isn’t pain not part of everybody’s life and is pain not a catalysator for growth very often? How many painful lessons we had to learn in life? Sometimes so painful that we thought we will never make it through; only to discover that we were stronger and more mature afterwards. Well, if this thoughts are not helping while sitting on this hot chair later, I will just try the “ohm” meditation…

Meetings with a representative of a bank is also painful – the fees are high, the service standards are very low, the ignorance concerning the client is breathtaking. Still a long way to go before the attitude is changing. I also have to phone my security firm again. 5 phone calls, a reference no, numerous emails and the result is as you would not be existing. ADT shows a service delivery attitude which is mind-blowing as well.

The volunteer of “weltwaerts” promised to finalize the webpage of HOPE Cape Town today as he will leave on Saturday and wants to take off tomorrow. He is good, but also good in waiting until the last minute, wondering what went wrong… Amazing youth.

I have to visit the post office as well today, LH Miles & More really emailed me to enquire about the right address to deliver their card. Amazing and a double plus for them. The first time in 8 years. Well done!!

And in the evening I will have my farewell dinner with the pastoral community council members and their partners. I invited them to the Mediterranean Villa, our guesthouse and community center for a Asian style dinner buffet. I am looking forward to it, as they have been really marvellous over the years, supporting, helping, and just being there for the community and for my own sorrows. So the evening will most probably end on a more somber note of farewell and “time to say good bye”.

Last but not least I have to pack my stuff – tomorrow I am flying to Durban for a farewell weekend in my second community in Durban. Also a very special crowd and I am looking forward to meeting them.

Filed under: Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , ,

24.07.2009 one week to go…

When holidays start, then it seems like quite some time – but suddenly, after having done two/third, time seems to run faster and faster…  And one suddenly must make a plan to do all the things still open on ones agenda. Well, this time it isn’t different – and suddenly the realisation, that next week this time, I will already be back in Cape Town, most probably struggling with jet leg and an office full of requests and notes and mails and so on…

What makes this coming home so special is the fact, that with the day I start working again, my last 8 weeks as the chaplain to the German speaking Catholic Community will commence  (if all is going according to plan).  Without knowing exactly until now what will be my next “stage” in life, I have to move from one place to another within Cape Town, I have to wind down all the technicalities which such a hand over requires – and South Africa can be a nightmare in this concern. 12,5 years of service going towards an end.

I feel a bit like Abraham going towards the unknown;  with the difference, that he was much older, and he was called out, not kicked or pushed out – so to speak.  🙂 I am sure I will reflect quite a bit what it meant to me being a chaplain to that very special community in Cape Town – not to forget the folks in Durban. All so special and come what may come, I am aware that it was indeed a privilege to serve those communities the last years.

I always said when we had visitors: “What can be more nice than to be a chaplain in Cape Town?”

Having reflected on it a bit during my holidays I am aware that Cape Town changed me a lot. Living in Africa, living next to Table Mountain, living in vivid history happening in the country in the moment – having such a diverse crowd of faithful from all corners of German speaking parts of the world and quite a lot already distant from the institution “church”, it made me realise that whatever we think we know exactly can quick fade away as I had to learn every day that life is more colourful, more diverse, more exciting, more different than I ever thought.

This diversity, the colourful mixture of God’s brothers and sisters has sometimes an intensity, which definitely you hardly will find back home in parishes in Germany, Austria, Switzerland or all the other places. And adding all the experience through our social project “Hope Cape Town”, the mixture of guests at our Mediterranean Villa – sometimes it could get even for me a bit too much and too hectic…

And then still remains the question: How do you bring this “all” home to Germany? How do explain those on the purely administrative level that such diversity requires sometimes solutions beside “the norm”? How do you open up their hearts and minds that indeed church has to be diverse too – and has been and will always be.  Not that easy….

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

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