God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

Thoughts of an unapologetic whitey on #SaveSouthAfrica

I am reading the opinion piece “Here’s why white people cannot demand solidarity” – posted somewhere on social media under the headline “who’s rally call and why is it anyhow?”. On the morning of Friday, 7th of April 2017, the day most serious South Africans try to rescue their country from greed, corruption, downgrading and incompetent politics while MK “Speer of the Nation” soldiers still try to play war in front of Luthuli House my thoughts go back where I am coming from and what I have learned so far living 20 years in South Africa:

First and foremost: I don’t want and I will not apologize for being born white and in Europe – nobody chooses his or her place of birth – and whatever system is in place is taken in the beginning, till reflection sets in, as a normal environment.
I grew up in the small little town of Bitburg – those knowing the history of the city know that Bitburg harbored one of the biggest US American airbases next to Ramstein. So for me – in my childhood I was aware that people have different skin colors – which not really mattered – but we knew: black people are rather richer people as the US Dollar was strong at that time.
When I entered adolescence – news from South Africa were made more and more available and I learned about a small tiny Archbishop in Cape Town and the call for a boycott of South African goods. Empathy for the “poor suppressed black people” far away grew by the day – and I remember still very vivid how we followed the call of activism and tried to convince the adults: “Don’t buy apples and other products from South Africa”. I am not sure about the checks and balances at the end – but those small little and also big activities against apartheid were at least as much as important to bring down the unjust system like the liberation struggle on the grounds of African soil. Nobody has the copyright of solely liberating South Africa.

Having the chance to work in South Africa – the new South Africa with all the dreams and yearnings of the so-called and so often praised rainbow nation – and the possibility to personally meet and talk with my heroes of youth, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late President Nelson Mandela have been ever since highlights in life so far. Working in the fields of HIV in all different levels of society has grown my empathy and my understanding of the human race. I do reflect on where I am coming from, what advantages I have had in life so far – I see the dark and inhumane side of history in South Africa – but not only there: apartheid, colonialism, extortion, abuse of human rights – I acknowledge the role, Europeans have played and are still playing and I see the riches of African culture being often suppressed till today.

But I can only acknowledge and learn from the history and apply my learning’s with empathy  in the present time to create a future where mistakes of the past should be avoided. I can only continue to strengthen and communicate my firm believe that there is only one human race, that skin color does not matter for me and should not matter for anybody. As a Catholic priest being part of more than a billion faithful from all over the world I know what power lies in the faith of being just a brother or sister for each other under one divine mystery.

I also have learned from history, that liberation armies – look at South America or even Africa – need at least a generation to understand that they are not at war anymore but needed to transform in real political parties with understanding of what democracy means. So what we see in the ANC in the moment is history repeating itself because the cadres have not learned out of history and the poor will suffer again.

This is one of the reasons why I march today – reminding myself and others that we don’t have to go the same disastrous cycle if we learn of history. I do march today not because I want to have any privileges back or sustained or because I demand solidarity; it’s the other way around:
I give solidarity to those suffering the most: the poor, those who did not make it because of mistakes of politics, but also because of the greed, the corruption, the incompetence and the ignorance within our political system.
I march today for humanity, for the dream of those having given their lives in the struggle – millions of dreamers who either fought on the battle field or attended concerts to “free Mandela” or begged the people not to buy fruits from an inhumane system.
I march to keep going the dream of a just and non-racial society being able to see the pains of people and to be willing to start the process of healing guided by wise men and women in government, in churches and other institutions.

I march with empathy and solidarity for all and with all who share this dream knowing that there is a long way to real freedom, but if we walk together every day a little bit, we will reach it – a healed society becoming again the beacon of hope for a continent, which was long written off, but – and this is my firm believe – will be on the forefront of a renewed global village in the future – the cradle of mankind a living hope for all our brothers and sisters.

Filed under: Africa, chaplain, General, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A bit of spring cleaning…

Just a little bit of spring cleaning for the blog, here and there some changes and off we go – ready for all what will come in the coming month. Marikana and all the other strikes indicate that South Africa is going into a rough time – also thanks to Zuma, Malema and the question who gets the top at the ANC conference.

We must take good care not to lose it – that 3000 illegal striking people with partly new weapons (watch the footage) stop 21000 other people willing to work – and that all outside the unions – shows what potential for trouble we have. Stoning and killing people who want to work, endangering lives like now in Gauteng with the truck driver are alarm bells for our society.
It time for our politicians and those in power to stop to look for themselves and their families and clans but deliver to those in need. Just not only pay lip services but mean their Sunday sermons. Crime rate, corruption, unemployment, a rotting health deliver in parts of the country despite new buildings – its time that everybody does their spring cleaning and start afresh.

South Africa has so many possibilities – lets work together to create a future for all. Everybody in his or her environment. And please, for the bigger part no apartheid excuses anymore – the rainbow nations is full of South Africans, right?

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

Visitors to HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust

 

Today,  Mrs. Elke Ferner, Deputy Chair of the SPD party in the German parliament and Mrs. Evelyne Gebhard, member of the European Parliament will visit our project. Together with members of the diplomatic staff of the German Embassy and the German Consulate General we will visit a township clinic and observe one of our HOPE community health worker before heading to have a look at the community of Blikkiesdorp and our involvement there. Before going to lunch and answering all open question a visit to the Ithemba ward will round-up the visit.
For HOPE Cape Town Association and Trust it is always a pleasure to have members of various parliaments and to give insight for those in the political arena. It is important that decision maker are informed about what is going on on grass root level. European visitors learn about the health system of South Africa first hand and experience the achievements as well as the shortcomings of our local system. That helps to assist in the bilateral talks between in this case Germany and South Africa and shapes the decision-making process how best to assist this country.
Also in this sense HOPE Cape Town Association and Trust is like a bridge bringing together and in touch two worlds which are quite apart from each other looking at the health system. Germans living here in South Africa know how to appreciate the health insurance Germany is offering to them and not surprisingly a lot of people making their living now in South Africa remain members of their respective health insurance company based in Germany. It is to hope that South Africa one day is ready to install a similar system. According to government sources such a system is considered and somehow in the pipeline, even nobody knows what it will cost to implement it.

Besides that the visitors will learn to know the variety of portfolios HOPE Cape Town Association and Trust is involved in: from grass root level to academic research.

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

… what an insight…

Coming closer to the World AIDS Conference, you can read in all Catholic and specially more right-wing Catholic articles about the conference that the expert of Caritas Internationalis, Msgr Robert Vitillo proclaimed that condoms don’t solve the problem of AIDS.  I am amazed and it reminds me lots of sermons I have heard in my life where questions are asked or statements are attacked which nobody really ever had in mind. So I am not sure what drives the media to repeat in sensational ways a statement nobody is anyhow interested in or has ever claimed to be the only solution to the pandemic. Well, it might be that there is the intention to show that the anti-condom Catholic teaching is at the end the right point of view when it comes to AIDS. And it seems that repeating this “insight” makes it one day coming true…
The battle against the pandemic needs all tools we have at hands and when we will look back at the pandemic once the tide is turned we as the church will feel ashamed for rejecting one of the most important tools for “here and now” to prevent new infections. And we might even laugh to see how important that little bit of rubber was, so much so that moral theologian could get into trouble because of it. And I am sure God might laugh too…  –  but we all in the church have to take responsibility for those having followed the rules of the church and got into deadly trouble as a consequence. Life is precious and we are not allowed to bargain with it as cost for a teaching which we all know can and will and has changed over times.

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

On my way to Washington

Since a long time the a major AIDS conference will take place in the USA again. Not that the Americans pulled out of the dealing with HIV, but their restrictive policy in making it difficult or impossible to welcome people living with the virus made the country unsuitable for any AIDS related conference in the last years. It shows that God’s nation on earth needed quite some time to understand how stupid and contra-productive it was to challenge HIV and AIDS with useless immigration laws. And this does not only counts for immigration. It becomes clearer and clearer that legal measures often are unjustified and hamper the efforts to combat the disease or turn around the tide. Let’s hope that during or in the aftermath of the conference more countries realise that they increase the risk of HIV instead of bringing it down when taking so-called preventative legal measures or trying to root out HIV with the penal code.  Only when people are able to receive a test result without the fear of discrimination, not only from fellow neighbors but also from states and countries, when they are allowed to enjoy the same freedom of travel like everybody else we will be a step closer to turning the tight of the pandemic. Let’s work hard to achieve this goal and start today.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
3 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

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

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