God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

8 policemen and 11 days

What do you expect from the police when you are robbed and all your belongings you carry with you are stolen? Right: to go to the police station and lay charge and get a case number. That’s the theory but it seems that even that simple truth is not always working properly in South Africa.

One of our HOPE Community Health Workers was robbed on the street and with all her belongings also the new tablet just received was taken from her. The tablet, a donation from the Consulate General in Cape Town was insured and so it seemed to be a clear-cut case besides the trauma of being robbed: to go to the Police Station and report the incident and to get the case number for the insurance company. Not so with the South African Police Force. According to them, a tablet can only be reported stolen if one has the number of the SIM Card inserted into the tablet. But what happens if you don’t have a SIM card because your tablet should work only with wireless and there is no need for a SIM card. Well, according to the police their form has a field requiring the SIM card number and the consequences are clear: no SIM Card – no robbery case number.
One would think that policemen are able to think outside the box, but it took 8 different policemen during 11 days to archive the goal: getting a case number – and it needed finally the threat of our outreach facilitator to camp inside the police station until she gets the case number to make it happen.

What do we learn of it: Giving a police officer a form to fill in can be dangerous in South Africa… and there is a long way to go to get people to think on their own or to apply common sense. One of the most dangerous pitfalls in the training and education of South Africa is that repetition is all it need to pass – to think of your own is not only not required but even not wanted. The consequences are obvious and annoying to those having just gotten out of a dangerous situation and then not able to lay charge because of formalities. About police I can share another story just coming to my mind.

I remember being stopped by a policewoman in the North-West Province for not stopping correctly at a four – way stop. I was asked to step out of the car and the fine form was filled in. Question of the policewoman: “What is your profession?” Answer: “I am a priest.” Question: “Is that a profession?” My answer: “Yes” – Follow up question: “How do you spell that?”
Funny? – Well, depends how you see it – but it is better than having to buy chicken wings for hungry police officers to get off the hook while stopped for a traffic offense in Johannesburg.

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

Exercise and HIV

Gym

Gym (Photo credit: ivywoodavenue)

 

Even HIV can be combated by highly potential medication, there are indeed many side effects which a person living with the virus has to deal with. Within all the tools to reduce such side effects, going to the gym and exercising is one of the most successful one to keep body and mind in shape. To get some tips how and what to do best, read the article from Michael Mooney and Nelson Vergel here.

 

 

 

Filed under: HIV Treatment, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

A day at the conference..

6 am is a good time for a quick email review session before breakfast and bus transfer to the Convention Center downtown.  At 8.40 am the plenary session starts going on till 10.30 am and covering important topics. Today it was the question of prevention under the headline “turning the tide”.  11 am meeting with a group organized by the International AIDS Society for a review of the conference so far and an exchange amongst delegates. After that a brief meeting with a possible partner before heading to the next appointment with a doctor and priest from Hawaii who considers to work in Africa after retirement. What are the conditions for such an idea, what is possible, what is needed?
Further networking and revisiting some of the booths for more information intake before at 6.30 pm the next event starts with Stephen Lewis, the former adviser to Kofi Annan on HIV/AIDS in Africa. As usual he finds clear words on the situation and one wishes for more straight forward talk on the conference.
At 8.45 the bus is bringing us back to the hotel in Arlington.
And after another check on the emails, it is time to sort out everything for tomorrows day. Planing is everything, workshops, talks and networking needs coordination to succeed in having a successful day. But until then some rest is needed…

IAS Research Meeting

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

24.02.2010 A crazy laptop and HCHW training

It is always a delight when a laptop is starting to refuse working – especially when one is short before going on travel and there is a need to have this instrument of work with in the luggage. Well, lets hope that the technicians can find the mistake before leaving – at least there is a place in Cape Town where one can bring his computer for repair..

This morning a chat with all Hope Community Health worker of HOPE Cape Town – once in a while it is indeed necessary to bring some basics back into the mindset of the people. They are good and most really try very hard to perform as required. Sometimes I forget, that most of them never had a regular job before being employed by HOPE Cape Town – so lots of basic education is also needed besides all the HIV and TB training. Amongst others there is also computer training as most clinics start to work with computers and most libraries in the different township communities have computers and internet. We are thrilled to work together with the Bavarian Staatskanzlei, InWent and the Missionsaerztliche Institut in Würzburg / Germany on E-learning which means to get all the input also in digital form, so that at an ideal scenario, people can log themselves into the program from their own computer or the available computer and learn by themselves – still in a controlled way.  Digital revolution also in our sector, slowly but surely.

I reminded our HOPE Community Health Workers this morning that besides a decent salary the training and education is the most beneficial asset for them – it is not for no reasons, that most of our HOPE Community Health Workers who left us were offered good positions within the respective clinics because they were very well-trained.
I guess that this is one of the most problematic topics in South Africa, the lack of proper education. Lets face it: Bringing the previous disadvantage into good positions with BEE is a great idea, but without the proper training it can develop into a nightmare. South Africa has surely taken a big share on these nightmares. Proper education takes time, and that is unfortunately something, politics lacks in this point. People wanted to see an immediate change after the first free elections in 1994. One consequence of the lack of time is surely that the quality of training and education has suffered. And when one listens to people in the educational sector, one hears again and again that the qualification levels have been lowered to accommodate the quota.

I believe that we at HOPE Cape Town have a good mix of people from different backgrounds and as long as I was part of the interviewing process, skin color never played a role. Attitude and the will to learn and achieve something in life, an open mind and a good heart is what brings people to the point, where they can climb the career ladder.

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

25.08.2009 A long day…

A long day draws to an end, filled with meetings, paper work and the management meeting of HOPE Cape Town. It is amazing to see where we are at now after 8 years of work.  Academic research and grass root projects are filling the agenda, and the question, whether one can do an outing during Ramadan, as we have employees of Muslim faith.
The discussion shows how sensitive the issue is – and that during Ramadan, some Muslims want to refrain from social activities.
The group of employees had decided nevertheless to do the outing – but this discussion will be surely a focus point during the time to discuss different cultures and resulting expectations. It also shows that it is necessary to keep a calender with all important religious times to give space to the needs of those taking religion seriously.

After two years, all HOPE community health workers are going for two days away, for most of them it is a real break from daily life and the daily struggle. But it should also be an opportunity to debrief our men and women at the forefront of our work. It is amazing with what they all have to cope with: work, sometimes very poor working conditions, extended families with all the problems, own kiddies and those of the sisters and brothers and so on and so on…

41 HOPE community health worker have been employed by HOPE Cape Town during the last 8 years, most of them have climbed the latter at a certain point, well trained the Province of the Western Cape has snatched some away and promoted to good position within the health system. HOPE Cape Town becomes more and more a starting point for people, who seriously want to get involved in heath issues and community work, based at the respective primary health care facility.

The two hour management meeting is full of proposals, requests, lots of decision are taken which will be implemented in the next days and weeks from our staff. It is amazing, but you go home with the feeling that you really can change the world a little bit.. at least here in South Africa, here in the Western Cape.  Great stuff!

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

Ball of HOPE 2020

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

15th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 31st, 2020
10 months to go.
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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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