God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Mandela Day & Tierra, techo y trabajo

Today it happens again like it happened the last years: everybody wants to be involved for 67 minutes – and especially those so-called VIP’s are keen to be seen with children, packing food parcels, donating blankets or whatever – just to make sure that everybody acknowledges their good heart and intention. And I don’t doubt these intentions at all, but I always ask myself what happens after the 67 minutes? What happens to those being fed, being cloth, being catered for the next morning, when they wake up in the same misery as the day before? What’s about the other 365 days and 22 hours and 53 minutes of the year? Waiting for the next Mandela Day – for the next invite to be part of the icon’s legacy? I don’t want to sound sarcastic but while doing also my 67 minutes and more in Blikkiesdorp yesterday morning to honor this legacy – I was looking into the faces of those we served and honestly, I partly felt bad knowing, that the rain jacket, the sweets and the porridge might be the highlight of their day but not changing their lives profoundly. Well, being lucky and knowing, that our organization HOPE Cape Town is working since years in this semi-permanent community I felt assurance that it was not a once off but part of a bigger effort to aid and help this very community of almost 15 000 people at the outskirts of Delft. But it remains that unsatisfactory feeling not being able to do more, to turn around those lives and giving them what Pope Francis described in three Spanish words as the fundamental rights of every human being: Tierra, techo y trabajo.  It was translated into English very loosely “land, roof and work” but I think this translation does not fit exactly the Spanish meaning. What the pope is saying and not only saying but demanding is that everybody has the right to have a piece of land he calls his own and yes, with a roof under which he can lay his head at night. But roof means more, it means a real home, a real protected place he feels secure and safe together with his loved once. And added is the right to have work, to be able to earn a living, a decent living and not a hand-out, not a social grant but the dignity, only own work can bring to a person. And it is about dignity, about the possibility to create and follow your own dream how to live you life, to be able to have a good education, a protected home, a loving family, an honest earned income to sustain this life. We in South Africa are far away from this dream of tierra,techo ytrabajo – not only in Blikkiesdorp but even in the posh suburbs of the cities a protected home seems to be an illusion just reading the headlines of a daily newsletter: robberies, intrusions and murder are making screaming headlines and the private security business is booming. And with more than 24% unemployment and the gross number of social grant recipients we are far away from “work for all” who should be able to do so. Maybe we should think of a Mandela moment next year where we don’t do hand outs but put our minds together and go for real change in distributing wealth and work, in giving more people the chance to get a better education, a real working environment, a chance to proof themselves and earn a decent living. Just a thought…

Mandela Day - a hand-out is simply not enough

Mandela Day – a hand-out is simply not enough

They need a real dignified future

They need a real dignified future

Filed under: Africa, Catholic Church, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24.08.2009 First full day in office

It is amazing to see what happens after being sick and back to the office…  It seems that everybody does sense you are back. The phone rings without a break, people pop in and the email box transforms in a never empty entity with lots of demanding emails…

But after resting so much it is indeed fun to whirl around again, get things going and working like hell to get your desk back into something which looks not overly burdened with papers.
Ending my duties as chaplain soon means also to prepare a lot for the successor, winding up things, and trying to sort out all the “nitty gritties” of a 12,5 year period of permanent work.

Now I am tired and just want to go home. Well, there is also work waiting for me, but at least I can say I survived my first full day in office again. H1N1 is past – the future is still unknown but a sunny day in Cape Town did the best to make me feel comfortable today. To be able to work is indeed a blessing – and I am looking forward after a nights sleep to another day in office, meeting people, just feeling alive and kicking again.

Filed under: Reflection, Uncategorized, , , ,

01.08.2009 Home again.. :-)

Coming home again – a great experience… rain, no stairways to leave the plane, being wet until reaching the bus, waiting for the luggage – belt 1… then belt 2 – all in rush to the new belt – new announcement: belt 4 now.. chaos… stop and go on the highway – yeah… back in Cape Town. As I have to move flat next week my first way is to the new home: the house alarm does not stop after de-activation, from every corner there is the sound of a beep… waiting for the technician – well, it could be… hours later… all fixed, but unfortunately the transformator blown – so no alarm, until tomorrow..  OK… Saturday comes, technicians comes, after 2 hours it seems not so much to be the transformer, but the cables, under the pavement – so no way to repair, and anyhow, shops are closed to get new cable…  Welcome to South Africa… Phoning ADT, the security company to get relief – but my new landlord is still contracted – and she is gone – off to Australia…. Without written consent, the ADT manager explains impatiently, there is nothing ADT can do for me… well, she admits Australia is far, but that is not her problem, she has her rules…  Did I mention that I love the way, South Africans working?? 🙂

Filed under: Reflection, Uncategorized, , , ,

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