Monday, May 10, 2010

A Billion Condoms and 40,000 Sex Workers - Sex Tourism?

[WE4JSW7P6TNE] This article in The Huffington Post on May 10, 2010 says it all :
By Iva Skoch, GlobalPost
CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- The taxi drivers hustling around the bars on Long Street in Cape Town say they are ready for all the soccer fans that will flood the city in June for the World Cup. So are hotels, restaurants, breweries and, inevitably, prostitutes.

Arguably, the soccer World Cup is to the sex industry what the holiday season is to candy shops. A temporary surge of excited people feeling collectively festive, willing to pay for a bit of extra indulgence.

South Africa's Drug Central Authority estimates 40,000 sex workers will trickle in for the event from as far as Russia, the Congo and Nigeria to cater to the wide taste spectrum of some 400,000, mostly male, visitors and their apres-soccer needs.

Henry Africa, 49, drives a taxi in Cape Town and, aside from the usual airport pickups and winery tours, he also operates the "Bright Red Tour," which he expects to be a hit among soccer fans. For the equivalent of 500 dollars, he'll shuttle customers from strip bar to strip bar all night and even bring them over to a safe-sex practicing prostitute, a relevant selling point in a country where one in five adults are estimated to be HIV positive.

Over the years as a cabbie, he says he has seen it all: men hoping to try sex with someone HIV-positive, men getting drugged, beat up and robbed because they thought they could find what they needed on their own.

"If they don't know where to go, they can end up in trouble," said Africa. "What people pay for is safety."

Safety has remained the main keyword here, a month before kick off. Hosting the prestigious world soccer tournament is the country's first post-apartheid chance to be in the global spotlight for news other than that associated with South Africa of the last two decades: out-of-control crime, an immense gap between the rich and the poor, racial tensions, staggering AIDS rates and presidential eccentricities. It is South Africa's chance to finally shed its infamous label of an unsafe tourist destination, a tag so despised by locals.

On April 17, in an article titled "Enough already -- stop dissing this fantastic country," the author Carol Lazar sums up the sentiment in the newspaper Star. "The hype overseas whether or not South Africa is a safe country to visit is the biggest waddle around ... Enough now from these assholes oversees who spread doom and gloom," she writes. "Visitors to South Africa, whether they come for the World Cup or just to holiday, will have the experience of their lives."

It's no surprise South Africans are defensive about outside criticism. The country has worked hard to show off the "new South Africa" to the world. It has been promoting the marvels of ethnic diversity and advertising its national parks. It's built brand new stadiums, renovated airports, repaired roads and installed free condom dispensers. But the country realizes none of it will matter unless it can provide the one thing everyone is focused on -- safety.

All nine South African cities hosting the games have increased police presence in strategic areas. The Cape tourism board issued a code to try to curb sex tourism. Children around the country are being educated about the dangers of World Cup-related sex trafficking. AIDS awareness campaigns have been launched.

Even President Jacob Zuma -- himself a polygamist, father of at least 20 children and an infamous condom skeptic -- isn't taking any frivolous chances with the World Cup. During his official visit to the United Kingdom in March, he asked the government to supply 1 billion extra condoms to South Africa before the upcoming tournament.

In the view of many, this was seen as a progressive move from a president who doesn't exactly lead by example. Just last week, Zuma announced his HIV tests came back negative, although he has admitted to having unprotected sex with women other than his four wives. Others rolled their eyes at South Africa shooting itself in the foot again by promoting itself as a country that encourages sex tourism and prostitution.

Either way, Britain responded by sending 42 millions condoms, a number sufficient to supply almost every citizen of South Africa with one condom or every tourist expected to travel there with one hundred. Still, some fear that exposing so many rowdy soccer watchers in such a high infection-risk area might result in an increase of HIV rates upon their return to Europe.

A Congolese prostitute, who goes by the name "Scarlet" and works on Long Street, arrived here last month and will stay in Cape Town for at least a few months or maybe permanently, "if God allows," she said. She wears a black tank top with the logo of Bafana Bafana, the name of the South African national soccer team, "The Boys."

Work has been slow, she said, but she's hopeful the World Cup will change that.

"White men like black women," she said proudly about the anticipated wave of soccer fans in search of exoticism.

Scarlet says she uses condoms most of the time, unless men pay her extra to not use one. "Men don't like condoms," she said.

Most do, however, like soccer.

ONE(1) BILLION CONDOMS!! Did I see correctly? Everyone is planning on making big money from the World Cup, but I can't help but think that the only industry that will "benefit" ... will be the sex industry. Is this what we are left with? One billion condoms, 40,000 sex workers, human trafficking of boys and girls, abuse and misuse of every kind? In a country that is already struggling under one of the highest HIV/Aids infection rates.

The question that we should be asking: 

Am I going to turn my face away?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Enjoying my beautiful country

Usually when we have a management meeting we leave very early in the morning, usually around five(5) and we get back at around eight(8) in the evening ... that is around eight(8) hours on the road and just about that amount of hours in the meeting. the scary part is that it all happens in 24-hours! Because of that it's not unusual that we miss the beauty around us; either we are still fast asleep, tired, irritated, not in the mood for stops (except coffee) or wasting time on the trip.

This time around we decided that we are going to sleep over and take our time reaching our destination. You see, we are fortunate to have our management meetings in the beautiful Lowveld in the Mpumalanga province. And we miss the "fortunate" part because we are always in a hurry and ... but these past two days I've realized once again that we need to stop and appreciate the little things around us; friends, companionship, a good laugh, praying together, drinking a cup of coffee, spending time with old friends, making new friends, slowing down, enjoying nature and watching a Bollywood movie in the middle of the week ^^,)

Here is just a few photographs of what I've enjoyed the past two days in Nelspruit and Kaapsehoop :

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What I got from Butterfly in Brazil ~ Glenn Packiam

I first made my acquaintance with Glenn Packiam by way of New Life Worship, thanks to my brother-in-law. Always in search of new music they were a breath of fresh air. Then I happened on Desperation Band and the fact that Glenn Packiam is not only an avid blogger but also a writer. Finding his Blog challenging and though provoking I got myself a copy of his first book, Butterfly in Brazil – How your life can make a world of difference.

But before I go on with Butterfly in Brazil here’s a bit of background on Glenn:

Glenn Packiam is an Associate Pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he leads the Sunday Night Campus and serves as the Director of the New Life School of Worship. As one of the founding leaders and songwriters for the Desperation Band, Glenn has been featured on several Desperation Band and NewLifeWorship albums including Everyone Overcome, the award-winning My Savior Lives and the most recently released Counting on God. Glenn has written a few well-loved worship songs like "Your Name", "Everyone (Praises)", and "My Savior Lives." His second book, Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith was released with David C. Cook Publishing in June 2009, in conjunction with his debut solo album Rumors and Revelations from Integrity Music.

Back to Butterfly in Brazil that also became our first Book Club read at Church, which led to a lot of  “A Ha-moments” and “Ha ha ha moments” … that is now due to all the different South African pronunciations …But seriously, it is an excellent book to read as a group of friends or in a book club.

What makes Butterfly in Brazil so special is the examples Glenn uses out of his own life; how he grew up, met his wife, his studies and how he grew in his relationship with God and his lessons learned. Glenn also uses a lot of human stories; for example Rosa Parks, Frank Wills, Martin Luther, Nehemiah, stories of athletes, etc. that makes the book so much more personal to the reader.

In Chapter One Glenn writes: 
“BEGINNINGS are only as significant as their endings. A runner who doesn’t win the race finds no consolation in a good start. Successful endings are often determined by the very ordinary moments in the middle.”
That made me think; like me always looking for a new challenge, a new book, new music, etc. we all focus on the “new”. And we forget about all the stuff happening in the middle, which is usually the thing we don’t want to talk about and would rather like to forget. Because it usually is the struggles, the failures and heartache, but Glenn states clearly that successful endings are often determined by the very ordinary moments in the middle … The hard work, the blood sweat and tears, the failures or near-failures, the moments we want to give everything up and just let go, the moments of tears and depression.

Glenn also writes:
“Everybody wants to start a revolution; but nobody wants to fight to the last man standing.”
It happens so often that we start something, especially something we feel passionate about, but when the going gets tough … the people gets going and you end up the last one standing. That is if you don’t throw in the towel somewhere on the road yourself. Why is that? Is it the quick-fix life we are living in? Everything has to happen the easy way, I don’t want to work hard, pray hard and keep going?

Glenn again:
“We long to be extraordinary, to be remembered long after we’re gone, to be part of something greater than ourselves, to leave a legacy; yet we don’t want to go to work on Monday morning. A life of humble beginnings can end with epic significance. One life can make a world of difference.”
I guess we don’t want to start with the small … we don’t want to be faithful with the little given to us. We don’t know how to persevere anymore, we just want to “add water” and presto there we go! The fact is that life doesn’t happen like that; we all have to start somewhere, small and insignificant and sometimes have to re-start … and persevere and stay the course.

I always wondered why it is so difficult to get a team going or why people don’t seem to realize their dreams. All of us have such wonderful skills, gifts, ideas and tools; but are stuck in the “far far away future” or the “one day or next year.” Sounds like SHREK and the land of FAR FAR AWAY :) But what the hey, right “here and now” we are struggling to get things done!
 “Burning hearts for lost souls don’t make anything happen; but hands used to make a meal, build a shed, clean a home, or wash some feet are doing ‘the good work that God has prepared in advance for us to do.’”

Glenn showed me that:

  • You should get involved where there is a need. Be it the small group at the school that’s cleaning the school grounds. Heaven forbid, that is beneath me!! No, that is where there is s current need – you cannot safe the earth if you don’t start with picking up papers! The soup kitchen at church, reading to elders in the old age home, whatever and wherever there is a current need.
  • Be faithful there, even if it’s boring or not 100% your thing. There are so many people getting involved in teams or events and they end up leaving after 2-3 months because they feel their task is “unimportant”.

    “As Christians, we become God’s men or women on the inside, like spies on a covert operation. As long as we stay ‘on mission,’ God has as agent on the scene. We’re His hands and feet, on location, doing what needs to be done.”
  • Get your focus right. We tend to focus on the hungry and burdened outside our community, while those on the inside are struggling and fending for themselves. I’m involved in Swaziland, but my Home Church is also reaching out to the people living on the streets in our hometown with something as simple as soup and bread rolls. Get to know your environment and the immediate needs there …
  • And last but not the least, leaders you should also get your hands dirty. People will follow when they see you “do”. Leaders are constantly complaining that the volunteers or team members are lazy and not getting the work done, but they are following the leader’s example … Make sense to me :-)

    “Lasting change happens when we learn to work with others to harness the strength of diversity and numbers.”
Butterfly in Brazil brought back into focus what should be important, what is important, and practical. I really believe that if we cannot be faithful to the little things, God (and the world we work and live in) cannot and will not entrust the larger things to us.

“God doesn’t define success or greatness the way we do. And he doesn’t define failure the same way either.” Wow and ouch!!

I also believe in servant-hood, and our biggest stumbling block here is PRIDE. I am an expert control freak and I struggle to submit, but I have learned an l-o-n-g time ago that God is the type of person you should rather submit to otherwise your will feel the consequences. There is no place in His Kingdom for my own little kingdom … The more I surrender to His plan for my life, the more I see the true and bigger picture.

“If we live each phase of life as if it’s a stepping stone to greatness, we will find ourselves living each moment at half-speed. God wants us to take what’s stirring in our hearts today and act upon it here and now. Instead of waiting for great things to happen, we should be asking God, “What do I do about this idea now? I know that someday there may be a greater fulfillment of the dream – maybe there’s a piece that won’t unfold until twenty years from now – but what do I do here and now?” everything God has put inside us must be expressed and acted on here and now – or it will never multiply and grow. No matter how small and seemingly insignificant it might be, we can do something today; we can get started with something”

One of my favorite stories in the book is about Ben Couch that moves to Nepal in February 2005. Now I’m not going to relate his story here, you have to read it for yourself but Ben wrote the following in his journal:

“[The world] belongs to them. They are the central figures of time – as though history is just the telling of them from one to the next.
    Economics – the story of those who risked money to create more;
    … Religion – the story of those who risk believing in something that could possibly be wrong;
    … Music, arts, poetry, movies, social life belong to the heart that is willing to risk;
    Evangelism – is the risk of rejection;
    Pastor – risk of leading;
    Inventions – all must begin with the risk of their being impossibilities;
    Business, millionaires, farmers, and entrepreneurs – a risk of weather, soil, and seed.
    In all things, there are unknown factors, but the world belongs to those who embrace the unknown and risk failure to pursue greatness.”

So, if you want to be part of something extraordinary … something bigger than yourself … now is the time to start. Get involved!!

Get Chapter 1 – Beginnings here and start today!

Here is Glenn talking about his about book Secondhand Jesus - Trading rumors of God for a firsthand faith.

(All quotes from Butterfly in Brazil – Glenn Packiam. Tynedale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream, Illinois, 2007)

Related Posts with Thumbnails