God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

Bringing Africa to the US…

Amish family riding in a traditional Amish bug...

Amish family riding in a traditional Amish buggy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lancaster, the last stop on my way to Spring Grove PA. There in the Catholic parish of Sacred Heart I am supposed to preach the weekend. But how bring the situation of Africa to the rural area of Pennsylvania? I must admit I am not quite sure how that will work out and whether I find the right words to beam South African reality to Amish county. People, who I have never met before will have the chance of a “sermon-length” to learn about the work HOPE Cape Town is doing – a weekend encounter which hopefully strives a bond of understanding between Mfuleni, Wallacedene and Spring Grove.
Yes, the world has become a village – but still one wonders how to bridge the gap in a way, people really understand the plight of their fellow brothers and sisters in another corner of the world. Against my usual procedure I did not prepare a sermon because I think to take this chance I must get a sense on how to communicate with this community and I hope the luncheon with Fr Paul and Fr Tom this noon time will help me with this exciting challenge.
When I woke up this morning I thought to myself how strange it is that a person from rural Germany, the “Eifel” happens to be the messenger for a South African project in rural Pennsylvania, where most are offspring from German settlers. Indeed, the word of “citizen of the world” comes to mind – the global village beams us from the comfort of a limited home turf into such a global citizen situation one or the other way.
Let’s hope that those attending the services this weekend are touched by the stories of those living in the Western Cape and that this a start of a continuous relationship between the two worlds. That would be the ideal outcome. But even if this is only a once off encounter, to learn about others living in another corner of the world can only widen the horizon of those listening.

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

14.06.2010 Raindrops keep falling on my head…

Monday morning in Cape Town – and rain is pouring like it will never stop again. In the midst of all the rain and the cold wind we are standing in Blikkiesdorp and later in a neighboring township to shoot for the Mittagsmagazin of the ZDF, German Television. After a family visit and a walk trough the area I am completely wet to the skin, but the film crew is happy with pictures and content of the interview. Thanks to Angela and Yasmin for supporting this rainy adventure.

From there back to the office to organize myself for tomorrow – sports and HIV is the topic of a workshop. I met with Prof Juergen Beckmann yesterday already, Dean of sport sciences of the TU Munich. We spend the day partly with the Bavarian delegation visiting Manenberg and later Mfuleni. In the evening I join members of the Bavarian delegation at the Bavarian House (Artscape) to watch the soccer match between Australia and Germany. What a game.

In the moment we are negotiating still with Tygerberg Academic Health Complex the visit of a Isagauer Trachtengruppe wanting to perform for the patients at Tygerberg Hospital and then framing the signing of the memorandum of intent between the University of Stellenbosch, HOPE Cape Town and the Technical University of Munich. Dr. Pritzl from the Bavarian Staatskanzlei will also be joining us for this important occasion.

Lunch with a fellow priest in between to discuss certain matters arising for the more church related work. A video conferencing with Germany in the eve will end of this very busy day – and let’s hope for less rain for this eve when Italy is playing in Cape Town their first match.

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

03.02.2010 Friends are there for…

…letting thoughts flow. A wonderful and more spontaneous luncheon with a friend where I was able to take a breath and to talk about personal things which really moved me in the moment. It feels like a blessing to be able to share when heart and mind creates a rollercoaster situation.  🙂

Otherwise I spend the morning with young journalists from Germany – organised by the “Sueddeutsche Zeitung”. We went to visit a primary health care facility in Mfuleni, one of our patients at home and then went to Tygerberg Academic Children’s Hospital and HOPE Cape Town to discuss current issues. The journalists already had meetings with important people like the German Ambassador Dieter Haller and Premier Helen Zille. Their task is it to gather background information about South Africa before the Soccer World cup 2010 starts. And it is difficult. As I heard there is either painted a rosy picture of South Africa in anticipation of the sports event – and it seems that nobody is allowed to say a critical word about some areas of concern – or people condemn and warn of security failure and the horrendous crime rates. It seems in the moment, there is only black and white at our disposal – and I think, this is simply wrong. South Africa has, like all other nations a variety of gray – yes, we have crime and the statistics are shocking, but yes, hundred thousands of tourists are visiting South Africa every year  and most of them are going home with a positive impression and lots of good experience. Yes, there are concerns, also security concerns – but yes, there are also lots of efforts to make 2010 a success for South Africa and Africa. Yes, the price structure of some airlines and hotels are indeed rather reminding us of gangsterism, on the other hand – there will be enough good deals closer to the time. We have to be honest brokers of the realities of South Africa. I concede, the realities are not that easy to read and interpret often – but only if we see and communicate all the potential for success, but also not forget the pitfalls – South Africa is like any other nation made out of humans and human structures… Nothing wrong about it.

The stadiums are ready – the people get more enthusiastic, upgrades of roads and transport systems are driving us South Africans crazy every day we commute to town, the soccer world cup 2010 will be a success – the African way and that is indeed good so…  Such events also help to highlight the shortcomings of a country – but which country has no shortcomings??

So I hope that the journalists went back to their hotel with the impression, that they got an honest assessment of the situation without politics or diplomacy tainting the picture. I think there is no need. Looking back to the last years there is surely more sun than shadow – and the way, South Africa will choose will anyhow only decided after the world cup circus will move on.

One is for sure: the soccer world cup 2010 prevented South Africa and its young democracy to  dip deeper into trouble during the developing times, when we have to learn how to organise us as such a democracy. The soccer world cup 2010 was and is the necessary nail to stop destructive development. My South African part tells me that nothing is decided yet when it comes to the future of South Africa, but one thing is for sure: the potential to create a home for all and a stable democracy is at hand, but in our times, all countries are interdependent as the global recession has again shown. So the future of South Africa also hangs in the balance with the other states and nations of this world. I will remain optimistic and realistic. A realistic optimist or an optimistic realist.. whatever is necessary in the next years to come…

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

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