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boy2Man: Ayanda’s story

The CAST Annual Boys2Men Camp is one of the highlights of our year where we get to spend uninterrupted time with the young men in our communities and address the desperate need for guidance, advice, affirmation, and create a way for these boys to discover their identity. 

Below is the story of one of these boys whose life has been greatly impacted through this camp, as well as the ongoing support of mentors and volunteers:

CAST-ayanda-boys-to-men-camp01

Twenty-two year old Ayanda from KwaDabeka has come a long way since joining CAST’s Sport & Youth Development programme six years ago. His quiet demeanor and lack of confidence told of his unhappiness at school, where the teachers seemingly lacked the capacity to give learners like Ayanda individual assistance.

This changed when he started receiving after-school tutoring in Mathematics and Physical Science facilitated by CAST, which enabled him to start passing Maths and Accounting after having failed his first term of Matric. This was a turning point in Ayanda’s life, which sparked his motivation to study further.

Ayanda was also a member of CAST’s basketball team, THE CLAN, based at KwaDabeka Baptist Church. He had the opportunity to attend the annual boys2Men Camp where he gained a strong sense of discipline and self-efficacy, so much so, that in his first year of studying at the University of Zululand, others often mistake him for a 3rd or 4th year student.

Ayanda received a bursary to study Logistics Management and, through the generous outreach of a Westville Baptist Church member, has been offered a placement to complete his in-service training this year. Once qualified, Ayanda would like to work in Durban or Richard’s Bay, and pursue his dream of running his own Logistics Company to create employment opportunities for others.

As an ‘old boy’ of the CAST Sport & Youth Development programme, Ayanda is also keen to give back to his community in tutoring and mentoring of younger boys involved in the programme. Although his path has not been easy, Ayanda continues to pray each day and embraces learning new skills and applying what he has been taught throughout his years with CAST.

To learn more about how you can get involved in mentoring our youth in the communities, contact George at: george@cast.org.za or (031)266 8830. If you would like to sponsor boys to attend camp at R350,00 each, banking details are as follows:

CAST Trust

First National Bank

Branch code: 250655

Acc no: 62762010248

Ref: “Boys Camp”

 

 

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Diversity in Prayer

September is Heritage Month in South Africa, and to celebrate the diversity of culture in our community, we would like to share the following prayer requests in the different languages we speak at CAST:

 

Swahili 

Maombi ya kuwasilisha maombi kwa hatua mbili za usajili wa CAST Kenya zilizowasilishwa na Joe jana. Prayer for submission of applications for stage two of CAST Kenya registration submitted by Joe yesterday

Ombeni kwa kambi ya wavulana: Pray for the boys’ camp– Viongozi kutumikia kutoka mahali pa kufurika. Leaders to serve from a place of overflow
– Sote tukutana na Mungu kwa njia ya kibinafsi. All of us to encounter God in a personal way
– Kuwa na mwanga katika jamii zetu tunaporudi. Be a light in our communities when we come back
– Ili kubadilishwa kuwa maisha mapya. To be transformed
– Pata furaha katika uhusiano wetu na Mungu. Find joy in our relationship with God
– Kuwa na sala zaidi na kuamini nguvu za sala. To become more prayerful and believe in the power of prayer
– Kuwa na ujasiri wa kuzungumza bila hofu ya maoni ya wengine au hukumu. Become confident to speak without fear of others’ perception or judgement
– Ili kufungua na kuwa na nia ya kushiriki. To open up and be willing to share
– Usiogope kuhukumiwa. Simama kwa kweli. To not be afraid of being judged. Stand for the truth
– Kuwa huru katika Kristo. Be free in Christ

 

Sesotho

Rapella mananeo a Westville. Pray for the Westville Programmes

 

isiXhosa

Nceda uthandazele ukuqeqeshwa kobulungiseleli kubantwana okwenzeka ngomhla we-20 kuSeptemba kunye nokuqaliswa kweeWordworks kunye neBala lokuFunda nokuBhala eMntla.

Please pray for the children’s ministry training taking place in 20 September and for the launch of Wordworks and Adult Literacy in the North

 

Afrikaans

Bid vir Nikki as sy haar studies voltooi. Pray for Nikki as she completes her studies this month

 

Please continue to keep the CAST team, volunteers, and all those whom we serve in your prayers as we work together to transform our communities and extend the Kingdom of God. If you would like to get involved and join the movement, contact us at: info@cast.org.za or +27 31 2668830.

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Shooting for the Stars: Bryan’s Story

KDB Basketball

 

On his way home from school one day, 14-year-old Samkelo Bryan Cele, learnt something that would change his life. Being tall in stature, a friend invited him to join the CAST Basketball team that trained at KwaDabeka Baptist church. Without any former knowledge of the sport, or the right kit, Bryan went to check it out.

At first, it was tough. The other boys had skills and experience that far outweighed young Bryan playing in a pair of construction boots. Growing up as the eldest son in a family of seven with a single parent, Bryan faced scrutiny for investing so much of his time into basketball, especially since soccer was the more popular sport in his community. With the added sorrow of his grandfather’s passing, he stopped playing for a year.

Despite not being a part of the team, CAST had become a “home away from home” for Bryan – a safe space away from the dangers of peer pressure where he learnt about brotherhood, and what it meant to have a personal relationship with God in daily life as the boys would pray before and after each training session.

He started playing again in grade 9, this time, with a strong determination to improve his skills. As part of CAST’s focus on youth development, our mentoring programme seeks to break the cycle of fatherlessness in the communities by connecting young people with role models. Our goal is not that mentors would solve all their mentees’ problems, but rather that mentors would empower their mentees to solve their own problems. From equipping Bryan with his very first pair of trainers to sponsoring a trip to attend a basketball camp in Serbia, Bryan was blessed to have the mentorship of Mike Cox, a member of Westville Baptist Church, who whole-heartedly invested in Bryan’s future.

As the years went by, Bryan steadily got better and better. His talent drew the attention of selectors at regional tournaments, and he was subsequently offered a scholarship to attend Durban High School. His vision broadened as he began to see the many doors that had opened for him to opportunities that someone from ‘the hood’ would not ordinarily have access to.  One such opportunity was being selected to attend the aforementioned basketball training camp in Serbia, as well as in the USA where Bryan was awarded the title of ‘Most Valuable Player’.

Bryan is now in his second year at The University of Oklahoma, USA where he was awarded a scholarship to play basketball and is academically pursuing a degree in Business Law. Once qualified, his dream is to use his entrepreneurial skills to build a support structure for those from a similar background with limited opportunities. “Basketball was my out,” he says.

“I know I’m not the only one who can do it. They need God, hope and motivation.”

Bryan is deeply grateful for the generosity of donors and the support of CAST mentors and coaches, through which, God has worked to transform Bryan’s life. His advice to those who aspire to achieve the same goal is simple: “Believe. Work. And pray.”

If you would like to help make this dream a reality for more youth in our communities, contact George on 031 266 8830 or email george@cast.org.za.

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Stronger Every Day: Octavia’s Story

Last year, 48-year-old Octavia Mvundla’s life changed when she was diagnosed with Diabetes after attending CAST’s first round of health screenings in KwaDabeka during October. These were conducted to raise awareness about the disease among people in the communities. At the time of testing, her blood sugar level was dangerously high at 28 mmol/L, way above the healthy range of 4 – 9mmol/L. 

This finally explained her chronic lethargy, blurry vision and drastic 15kg weight loss over the past few years for which she had been merely self-medicating with painkillers.

Since then, her blood sugar levels have gradually dropped to a healthy level of 4,7mmol/L. Her struggle now is having to eat regularly to maintain this. Because of her lack of finances, the family would normally have one meal in the morning to last for the day, only to eat again at suppertime. Octavia is currently receiving a monthly food parcel, which has helped to supplement her diet.

To alleviate her family’s financial struggle, Octavia is generating some income through selling clothing donated to CAST, and has since opened a Savings Account to bank her profit. Though not enough to support the family, this little bit of extra income has enabled her to join the Savings Club facilitated by CAST as part of our Local Economic Development programme.

When asked about her hopes for the future, Octavia simply wants to “ask God for more energy, focus and strength in Him to fulfil [her] dreams.” With the right training and equipment, Octavia is keen to learn how to do needlework. If you are able to assist, please contact the CAST Head of Relief Services, Sandy Reid, on +27 31 266 8830 or e-mail: sandy@cast.org.za.

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Empowering Women: Sidudla’s Story

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
    for the Lord has heard of your misery.

13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Genesis 16: 7-13

The story of Hagar is one that hits home for many of the women that we serve in our communities.

In August last year, sixty-six year old Sidudla Simelane joined CAST when a concerned neighbour told her that it was where she could seek help out of her dire situation. She has lost both her children, one due to illness, the other tragically killed. Neither of their fathers present in their lives.

Sidudla, herself, suffered the loss of her parents at an early age and was raised by an abusive aunt who passed away when Sidudla was 16. Her only surviving family, a cousin in Hammarsdale, did not want to help her.

From this point, Sidudla had no choice but to support herself by working on plantations, ploughing. She was paid R250 ($18,80) per month until the owner of the plantation hired her as a domestic worker where she remained for 32 years.

For decades, Sidudla felt great anger and resentment toward her family, particularly her aunt and cousin. Looking back, she now realizes that it was they who were in the dark. “The earth is rotating,” she says. “You never know what will happen.”

Joining the CAST support group at West City Fellowship has given her hope; she has gained valuable skills in handwork, and looks forward to this time of bonding with the other ladies who attend, many of whom look up to her as a role model and servant of God.

“I used to sometimes think that there was no God,” she says. “CAST healed me.”

While this story is one that speaks of hope and healing, we cannot ignore the devastating reality that many women in this country face – a life of abandonment and abuse that can only be overcome through the support of those who recognize the overwhelming need to empower the women in our lives.

 

Questions to ponder:

  1. What does it mean to you to be an “empowered woman” in today’s world?
  2. What does it mean to you to be an “empowered woman” in Christianity? – is there a difference in your response?  
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Local Economic Development in Lamontville

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From Left to Right: Florence Mbutho, Thembekile Dube, Jabulile Sosibo, Christina Moloyi

CAST recently hosted a Graduation Day for participants who successfully completed the Business Growth Course in Lamontville. Four of the ladies in this programme are part of a Sewing & Support Group launched this year at Lamontville Baptist Church, and spoke about how their lives have changed since joining CAST:

 

When/how did you first hear about CAST?

Florence Mbutho: I’ve been involved with CAST for many years, and first heard about it from neighbours who directed me to get help. I had been living on a social grant.

Thembekile Dube: I’ve been involved with CAST for 3-4 months. I heard about it from a friend who was collecting food parcels. I had been receiving food from the local soup kitchen but soon learnt that not only does CAST help people by distributing food parcels, there are other areas where they help people.

Christina Moloyi:  Three years ago, I heard about CAST through neighbours. I was going through family difficulties, and came to CAST for help and was added as a food parcel recipient. I am a skilled seamstress and had been selling clothes, but it wasn’t enough to support my family.

Jabulile Sosibo: It’s been 3-4 months that I’ve been involved with CAST, and I also heard about it from a neighbour.

 

How has your participation in the CAST programmes benefitted you?

Florence: My grandchild started attending WordWorks. I have also benefitted from other CAST programmes. I have even found a ‘sister’ through the support group. I crochet hats, scarves, and recently made a jersey, and am able to improvise the pattern for variety. I previously worked as a cleaner.

Thembekile: I joined the support group and have been knitting. The business training has helped. I previously worked in a clothing factory as a presser and fuser, gaining valuable skills in machine work.

Christina: I joined the support group and find it a good place to share my experiences with other women. I previously worked in a clothing factory as a machinist, but am now learning how to save and run a business, and recently had a request from CAST to sew items for selling.

Jabulile: My children have attended Holiday Club and I have participated in the Sewing Group for Business Development. I am a qualified machinist, having worked with Cover Seam and Overlock Safety machines, becoming well-practiced in the blind stitch techniques.

 

How has this affected your spiritual life?

Florence: I currently attend an Anglican Church. I have not been able to make it to Lamontville Baptist services because of my leg swelling which has limited my mobility. I also often babysits on Sundays, but would like to attend Lamontville Baptist in future. I once attended a service at Westville Baptist and enjoyed it very much.

Thembekile: Spiritually, I have come to know God, and make time to pray every morning when I wake up. I currently attend the Apostolic Church, but am thinking of going to Wesleyan Church.

Christina: I have learnt to pray and worship God. I currently attend the Dutch Reformed Church, but am still looking for a ‘home’ church.

Jabulile: I was in a bad a space, but started coming to church and have come to know God. I now feel that I have a reason to get up in the morning. I attend Nazareth Church.

 

Going forward, what are your plans for the future, and what assistance do you need?

Florence: To improve my business, I need to find the right space/location to set up a stand to sell my products. I have a daughter who also knows how to sew, and can assist with networking. I am planning to make traditional skirts, baby wraps, and more crocheted items. I also know a relative who can stitch.

Thembekile: Going forward, I would like to gain more skills in sewing, and get the necessary equipment and capital to start my business. I don’t have any family support. At the moment, I do manicures and sells hair pieces for income.

Christina: I am passionate about sewing and have gained business skills, which I am looking forward to putting into practice. For my business I will need a new overlock machine to make a better quality product with other designs to attract more customers. I feel that I have the skills, but just need the starting capital. My daughter has learnt to how to stitch, so we can work together.

Jabulile: I want to open a Spaza shop and sell fast foods. I will need the equipment, such as plates, a stove and starting capital. I know how to prepare food. One of my daughters attended a culinary school and has learnt how to cook pastry. I see it as a good opportunity to work with my daughter.

If you would like to mentor any of these ladies or learn more about CAST’s Local Economic Development programme, please contact Janet Okoye at: janet@cast.org.za or 031 266 8830

 

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Coach Bongani

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Coach Bongani (far right) with some of his team at Sithokozile High School in KwaDabeka

By Rolan Gulston

Originally from Harrismith, 25-year-old Bongani Tshabalala has made a home in the community of KwaDabeka, a township situated just east of Pinetown. Since joining CAST as a volunteer soccer coach last year, he now feels fully invested in the development of the youth in the community.

Growing up with an older brother and two younger siblings, Bongani sought to become independent from an early age. While he spent much of his time at the gym training for the game that he loves, he did not see playing soccer as being a long-term career. Instead, he focussed on education, and encourages his boys to do the same.

Bongani has been studying mechanics since October last year. He shares that, as a youngster, he was not always diligent in his studies and often influenced his friends to take up drinking, smoking and dating to fit in with his social circle. Even attending church was something he did only to please his mother. This changed when he turned 21, as he began to appreciate his faith and attend church regularly without being pushed. As he got older and strengthened his relationship with God, he realised that the only person he can compete with is himself. He now attends KwaDabeka Baptist Church, and plays an active role in the Youth Ministry.

He first heard about CAST through a friend last year after living with his brother in Joburg for a year and half. The community centre in KwaDabeka was looking for a soccer coach, and he immediately jumped on board, but what he found was a deep lack of motivation in the team.

Gradually, through implementing the uBabalo Whole-life Coaching Programme, the boys have developed a close bond, and have learnt the value of supporting each other, “Because when you are playing soccer, you’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing as a team.”

Under his coaching, the boys won their first 10 games, and are now placed in the Pinetown League. Bongani believes in pushing the boys beyond their perceived level of capability by organising for his teams to play matches against older age groups as a way of helping them to adapt and gain experience. “God is here and anything is possible,” he tells them.

The team is steadily growing in number as the word spreads. The Under-15 and Under-17 boys train together three days a week. As part of the uBabalo programme, the team spends time reflecting on scripture before each training session, and many of the boys have shown great spiritual growth.

“God is always there. He is always watching you. I know it’s not going to be easy, but if you work hard, it won’t go away. If it’s easy, it won’t last.”

Bongani tries to always be an encouraging voice for the team, “I have never disgraced them. I tell them they should believe in themselves and trust each other. When I’m sharing myself, I am healing too.” His supportive, yet disciplined approach to coaching and mentoring has endeared him to the boys, who often tell him, “You are part of the family, you are always open.”

This year was his first time attending the annual boys2Men Camp. As a leader at the camp and in his community, Bongani took this time to mentor the young boys in the group of 60 that were selected to attend the camp. It also gave the boys a chance to talk about the things affecting them. He helped them to recognize bad influences in their lives, whether it be the people in their social circles or even the music they listen to. After sharing his testimony, he also taught them about making wise choices, not giving in to peer pressure, and rather than trying to change their friends immediately, start by telling them about the camp and share Bible verses with them.

Bongani found that previously, when selecting a captain, the boys would often choose the loudest player in the team but, lacking in respect for others. He soon drew out the quieter boys who showed leadership potential, and once placed in captaincy, began to change the mind-set of the team; leading by example in their dedication to the sport and their school work. Others have since also improved in their school results, and with Bongani’s guidance, have been applying for bursaries for tertiary education. He has also made time to help them form a study group for Maths and Science.

Between studying, training at the gym and playing matches, soccer keeps the boys busy. “They are no longer bored.” Bongani, too, feels that he has changed. For the past year, he has abstained from drinking and smoking.

“You should accept the way you are, and change the way you do things. Just having fun and buying lots of clothes won’t take you anywhere. Only education. God will provide everything later on.”

Bongani has a passion for youth development, especially empowering the young boys entering adolescence. Bongani’s dream is to empower them to become self-sufficient, productive members of their community. He, himself, has tried to set an example of this by seeing to his own groceries and rent of R550 a month. May was a particularly difficult month for Bongani, without money to afford food and basic necessities, but he still committed himself to training at the gym with the boys. He now receives a monthly food parcel from CAST’s Relief Services, which has been a great help. He hopes to one day have the means to support the boys in buying their soccer boots and kit. “I know I’ll accomplish that, but I know the path won’t be easy.”

Bongani would like to continue coaching, as he feels he is gaining a lot of experience, especially when working with the younger boys. “It’s something different, I am adapting.” To support Bongani in his mission to empower the youth, contact George at CAST on: 031 266 8830 or george@cast.org.za