God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

South Africa not in good shape but there is still hope

Christmas time and New Year, also time for the matric results to be published and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will praise the improvement of the pass rate from 60,6% in 2009 to 76,6% in 2013. Not spoken will be about the grim realities surrounding this result:
* The low pass rate: pupils must achieve 40% in their home language and in two other subjects, and a minimum of 30% in the remaining subjects. They can fail in only one of their seven subjects.
* Extra exams for tertiary education: more and more universities ask for extra entrance or literacy tests and compulsory enhancement programs because they do not trust the matric certificate.
* Drop outs at school level: the total number of matric pupils who write the exams is half of those starting education – the other half is gone, be it through economic difficulties or for other personal or social reasons.
* Drop outs at University level: over 50% of those starting to study will not graduate, so a report of the Council for Higher Education chaired by Professor Njabulo Ndebele
It seems like in many other instances that the assessment of realities tend to differ sharply in South Africa and it is not only the fire pond baptized swimming pool of Nkandla. 20 years into democracy this society has not found its feet somehow and is still struggling to meet the dreams of those being liberated with the end of Apartheid.
I am not thinking South Africa is doomed to fail but I hear and notice things which indicates that there is still room for improvement in many ways and I don’t mean the remaining high crime rate, the lack of service delivery, worker unions which want to be government, representation of workers and capitalists at the same time, Malemas and there-likes  etc. Coming from Germany, where I was born in a city where US Americans ran a major airbase in Europe, in my childhood “black people” were rich people because they had the dollars. Moving to South Africa I learned how different worlds can be and I had to adjust to open and hidden conflicts between races and ethnic groups on a level not known before. Even thinking that I keep an open mind and a hopeful outlook, I catch me out at times to have doubtful thoughts indicating a deeper problem: Driving often to Parklands Mainroad I see all those youngsters standing there waiting to be picked up for a day’s job. Often I thought, it would be nice to employ somebody when help is needed but one reads so much about crime and spying out opportunities that I simply don’t have the courage to stop and give one of them the livelihood for today. It shows how deep mistrust is sewed into the heart and mind of people including me.  The same applies when it comes to the suspicion of corruption: Seeing not so talented drivers in big new shiny cars often brings up the thoughtful question whether hard work or corruption has brought this car on the street. I admit: it is a shame, but such thoughts are crossing my mind and with all the obvious corruption, from hungry police officers in Johannesburg asking for chicken wings at a police control up to Nkandla and all those politicians, people in power and the tiny group of multimillionaire turned BEE applicants it might be even excusable.  And I am sure I am not the only one having such thoughts.
Flying often from Cape Town to Johannesburg return and seeing the attitude of many at destination taken away by government cars I must hold on not raising my voice and telling those people what “service” in democracy means.
Despite those observations are all the positive points South Africa can show off with: besides breath-taking nature and mostly friendly and compassionate people with a smile on their face, natural resources, a young generation willing to take the challenge if society and education gives them the equipment needed. So there is so much positive to cherish in this country.

I sometimes have the feeling that our society here has come out of the truth and reconciliation commission process knowing most of what happened in the past, but had no time to heal the wounds of the past. A government blaming Apartheid for every own failure does not help to let wounds close and scarfs appear, which are still present as a reminder, but they do not hurt anymore. I honestly think South Africa is in need of better leaders on all levels, showing an example how to serve a nation instead of milking it in many ways. And for me, there are in every political party people who could rise to the challenge. I had the opportunity to speak to politicians of different parties and I am convinced that South Africans can take on the challenge of transforming this country to be a beacon of hope for all of Africa. We just have to escape the spell of corruption, lies, dishonesty and the devils circle of senseless violence marring this country. Healing is for me the miracle word, healing of a collective nations psyche.
Churches can play a big role in this – furthering the process of healing and being the needed conscience of the nation if and when they put aside they own agenda and just being willing to serve the people without the intention to proselytize or forcing their own believe system on a nation. There is an existing ethos we all can agree of – be it the golden rule or the principles of world ethos as described by Hans Kueng and his world ethos project. The justice and peace projects of the Roman – Catholic Church is another example of trying to support and assist this process. Other churches have similar portfolios. So there is hope for me – and I hope that this hope will be carried through to a year of elections which can be won or lost by any party; and there is no entitlement of owning certain parts of this democratic process – a good government, a strong opposition, separation of powers and the goodwill of all people should prevail and bring us a step forward. A blessed New Year to all.

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

International Criminal Court for the Vatican?

“International Criminal Court proceedings for the Vatican’s stance on condoms” – this was one of the questions asked when discussing the question of HIV and AIDS in Southern Africa at the Osnabruecker Afrika Festival. “Surely not” – so my clear answer, but the question shows how much people are bothered by the outdated views on condoms regarding the pandemic on HIV and AIDS. It is getting more and more difficult to reason the case for all the consequences of Humanae Vitae and honestly: the battle is lost for the church. The faithful are not only not following the church in this anymore but feel more and more irritated about the fact, that this is even worth a discussion in our days. How much ground have we lost through this debate about a piece of rubber? Too many for my taste.

And what to tell the youngsters of the Ursulaschule, the diocesan High School in Osnabrueck – those who are experiencing their first love and – depending on the given family values – know that they should abstain (what they don’t do) as marriage in Germany is more and more a thing for people in their 30’s – and once again: who really waits that long? So what to tell them in their realities?

With the changes of the liturgical words “pro multis” Pope Benedict XVI has shown that he can and is willing to rectify decisions of his predecessors – so why not in this case a correction that ends debate and let us move forwards to all the other important questions we have to answer in these modern days.

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

Flights..

Sometimes it is amazing how even flights can bring moments of upliftment and joy and reflection at the same time. On my flight back from Hamburg via Istanbul to Cape Town I watched a movie based on the real story of an japanese youngster, student of medicine, who was looking for that “extra kick” in life – studying, drinking and partying and some love in between seemed so shallow. One day he saw an advert “build a school in Vietnam” and without ever been to Vietnam he takes the challenge to raise quite an amount of money to do exactly this: building a school in one of the lost corners of Vietnam. The movie takes you through all the stages of such a journey: the excitement, the different characters of his fellow friends trying to assist, the ups and downs, his first travel to Vietnam, his first encounter with a woman who is HIV positive, the history of Cambodia with millions of killed – the first encounter with kids of the village the school is later build. Very emotional but real – a real journey of this young fellow which ends with the opening ceremony of the school. At the end one learns that for all four students, driving the project, it is life changing – one is even working now in Africa for an NGO.

For me the movie triggered lots of own memories the way HOPE Cape Town was developed, the hopes and joys, the ups and downs, the success and the failures along the way – but at the end, like in the movie, there stands a sentence I truly believe in: Going such a way, you will find people showing you real hope to live for a meaning in life. And can you ask for more?

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

School day..

Friday morning – 5h30 leaving Wuerzburg to drive to the Constantin-Vanotti- School in Ueberlingen. It is always amazing to speak to youngsters, in this case 90 students in the age group of 16/17 years old.
What is HIV? Why should we care about HIV in Africa? What does give you motivation? How does your picture of God change? Human rights for HIV positive people? …

There are so many questions and after my intro a lively discussion develops.  At the end I am grateful to have the opportunity to bridge the gap between those living in Ueberlingen and those living in South Africa.

Bridging between South Africa and Germany

HOPE news

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

POZ Magazine: Indonesian Schools Don’t Discuss Condoms

Unwillingness to publicly discuss condoms is impeding Indonesia’s efforts to slow the spread of HIV, the Jakarta Globe reports. Health education courses in Indonesian public schools also don’t include information about sexually transmitted infections, despite the fact that almost half of the country’s estimated 50,352 people living with HIV are young people in their 20s. Government officials say that endorsing condom use might be seen as encouraging casual sex, which would not be accepted by the country’s Muslim majority.

To read the Jakarta Globe article, click here.

Source:

http://www.poz.com/rssredir/articles/Indonesian_Condom_Problem_1_19504.shtml

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Politics and Society, , , ,

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
3 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2020

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 23rd, 2020
10 months to go.
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