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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

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Moving Beyond Charity: Making a Spiritual Impact

During the past month, CAST has witnessed tremendous spiritual growth in the lives of our participants, both through special events and regular programming.

Holiday Clubs

During the October school holidays, CAST had the opportunity to partner with two local churches, Joy Chapel Ministries in Mariannridge and Lamontville Baptist Church, to host holiday clubs in these areas.  The clubs provided a unique opportunity for CAST to assist the local church in providing a few days of fun, faith and fellowship in a safe place for children within the community during the school holidays.

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In Mariannridge, 80 children aged 4-14 years old attended the holiday club.  For this event, CAST was able to partner with the Mariannridge International Citizen Service (ICS) Team, which is a programme offered by Tearfund and Zoe-Life that brings together volunteers from South Africa and the United Kingdom to work alongside local organisations in projects aimed at helping children in vulnerable communities to become more confident and skilled in order to inspire hope in their communities.  The ICS team worked alongside CAST staff and volunteers to ensure children were cared for and experienced the love of Jesus.  After working in this community for several months, the ICS team has seen the damaging impact of crime, alcohol and substance abuse on families in Mariannridge.  However, the team also experienced the power of reaffirming Christianity and spirituality in the lives of children during the holiday club when 60 children gave their lives to Christ.  The Lamontville holiday club had similar success, with 178 children attending.

Boys2Men Camp

Also during October, CAST hosted our eighth annual boys2Men camp.  Sixty-nine young boys (Grades 8-11) were selected from CAST’s youth programmes to attend camp.  The camp was facilitated by thirteen leaders currently involved in CAST’s Sport & Youth Development programmes in each community.

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This year’s camp theme was centred on “Abiding in Christ”, taken from the passage in John 15:4-5.  The boys were encouraged to experience God through worship, prayer and quiet time in God’s Word.  In response to an open invitation to accept Christ, 35 boys made first-time commitments to follow Jesus.

In the past few weeks following boys2Men camp, CAST has been able to follow up with the boys in each community regarding their spiritual journey.  The question everyone is asking each other is “Are you abiding?”

Below is a testimony from a camp leader:

Coach Bongani Tshabalala attended the recent boys2Men camp for the first time this year, where young men from local township communities came together to learn what it means to be resilient and walk together in their spiritual journeys.

As a facilitator at the camp and in his community of KwaDabeka, Bongani actively encourages the youth to develop their relationship with God, “Because He is the one that is always there for you.” Through implementing the uBabalo programme in his soccer coaching, he has seen how ongoing mentorship and support has positively impacted the young boys’ lives. Since beginning the programme last year, the boys now occupy themselves with training, playing soccer matches, attending church and meeting as a study group. 

Bongani’s dream is for the boys to grow spiritually and learn to be self-sufficient, productive members of their community.  

Food Parcel Ministry

At the end of October, CAST’s food parcel recipients also experienced what can only be described as a spiritual revival.  Each month CAST’s Relief Services HOD and Community Co-ordinators organise Ministry Days for the food parcel recipients.  At the Ministry Days, recipients not only receive their food parcels but are also encouraged to use their God-given skills and talents to lift themselves out of poverty.  Every month when CAST has Ministry Days, we faithfully pray that God will transform the lives of food parcel recipients, heal families, and provide for their needs. This month, CAST had the privilege of having guest speaker Tryphena, from Vukukanye Children’s Home, lead devotions at Ministry Days. Thirty-eight food parcel recipients came to know Jesus and committed their lives to Him. God’s spirit was very present, working in the hearts of those we serve! 

22730380_1464772373611468_6368805972482206700_n22730485_1464772400278132_2685624964510935931_nHere are some ways you can join CAST in praying for programme participants:

Holiday Clubs

  • Pray for Joy Chapel Ministries and Lamontville Baptist Church as they continue to disciple children in the community who made first-time commitments to Christ.
  • Pray for the children who attended holiday club, that they will continue to experience the love of Jesus.

Boys2Men Camp

  • Pray that the boys will continue to abide in Christ, spending time with Him through prayer, worship and devotions.
  • Pray for CAST’s community leaders as they continue to mentor these young men in CAST’s ongoing Sport and Youth Development programmes.
  • Pray for volunteers that are able to disciple the boys on a regular basis.

Food Parcel Programme

  • Pray for CAST’s Relief Services HOD and Community Co-ordinators as they provide support to food parcel recipients in reaching their individual and family goals. Pray that God will provide for the food parcel recipients and their families.
  • Pray that the food parcel recipients and their families will grow in their walk with the Lord.
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In Her Own Words: Rita Mkhize

 

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By Thandi Gova

Recently, CAST had the chance to hear from fifty-seven year old Rita Mkhize from Appelsbosch, who shared her story of transformation:

“One afternoon, I was sitting at home ‘bored’ as young people say and I saw ladies carrying parcels that looked the same. I asked where they were getting these parcels from and they referred me to the Appelsbosch Baptist Community Church and told me to ask for Nqobani Mkhize, CAST’s Appelsbosch Community Co-ordinator, who helped sign me up for a parcel which I started getting this year. I needed the food parcel after my husband died earlier this year. He was the only breadwinner in the house. Since my husband’s passing, I now rely on my 14-year-old grandson’s grant money of R380 ($29) from my late daughter who passed away in 2013.

The food parcel is enough for us because we are a family of two.  I have also completed CAST’s Paradigm Shift Business Experience Course, and my grandson is part of the Friday Youth at Appelsbosch Baptist Community Church.  Before joining CAST, I would just sit at home all day doing nothing, sometimes sleeping.   I have taught myself a new skill of knitting, and I am still improving.”

Rita sits with a grey knitted toddler jersey which she started knitting at last month’s CAST food parcel ministry day. When complemented about the jersey, she smiles and says that you can tell it hasn’t been done by a professional.

“I am so happy I cannot explain it and I even have a structured sleeping time like normal people.”

Rita has learnt to meet with people and have conversations. “Angseyona inkomo edla yodwa” she says in isiZulu, meaning she is no longer someone who isolates herself.

“I go out and meet people and when I hear that there’s something happening at the church, I go to find out and learn.”

When asked how she learned to knit, she explained that one day Nqobani took out wool and knitting needles.  He said that if anyone wants some, they should take it.  Only one lady took some wool and a pair of knitting needles. At the end of the day when she was leaving, Rita asked Nqobani to give her some wool and she said that she would give it a try. Rita says she learned to knit by the grace of God. With a smile she says, “God knows when you are longing for something [to learn] and He just shows you how.”

Rita has many dreams, but her biggest dream is to learn how to sew. She has even gone the extra mile of buying a sewing machine but hasn’t had a constant or stable place where she could learn. Rita recently discovered that there is a lady in her community who could teach her. The only thing standing between Rita and that opportunity is the fact that she does not have any fabric material.

CAST believes in empowering community members to become entrepreneurs, using their God-given talents and abilities.  If you would like to either mentor an entrepreneur like Rita, or provide resources such as fabric, please contact CAST at: info@cast.org.za or 031 266 8830

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Jemimah’s Story

 

Ten-year-old Jemimah Chihenga is a talkative and bubbly Grade 4 learner at Addington Primary School in inner-city Durban.  In her class of 45 learners, Jemimah has come to love social sciences, but still battles with maths, particularly long division.  Her teacher, Ms Mkhize, comes early in the morning before class to help Jemimah and other students with their maths.  This year, Jemimah reached Position 3 in her class; however, her academic achievements have been part of a longer journey that began four years ago.

In Grade 1, Jemimah was referred to CAST’s Wordworks Early Literacy Programme at Addington Primary.  Orginally from the DR Congo, Jemimah’s family speaks primarily Swahili at home.  Learning in a second language proved challenging for Jemimah, and she needed the extra support at Wordworks to help her develop the foundational English reading and writing skills needed to understand and complete her schoolwork.

She was paired with a volunteer who used games and activities to teach Jemimah phonics and spelling words. Thanks to this individual attention, Jemimah was able to graduate from the Wordworks programme, confident in her reading and writing skills.

More recently, Jemimah joined CAST’s ‘Give Your Brain a Hand’ creative arts programme at Addington Primary.  This programme supports development of the ‘right-brain’ through dance, needlework, speech & drama, and arts & crafts.  Jemimah particularly enjoys needlework, and has learned how to do basic stitching and embroidery.  So far, she has made a pin cushion, small handbag, jersey, apron and doll’s dress.  One day, she hopes to make a red tablecloth for her mother.

Jemimah would like to become a teacher when she’s older; however, her parents have encouraged her to pursue medicine.  Jemimah hopes to merge these two desires through helping people who have cancer or are HIV-positive.

During the July holidays this year, Jemimah also had the chance to attend CAST’s ‘Crowned’ Addington Holiday Club where she learned how to be royalty (including how to do royal bows) and to be grateful to God for protecting her family.

Jemimah’s father was part of starting the Evangelical Miracle Centre on Smith Street.  On the weekends, Jemimah is proud to sing in the choir at her dad’s church. She also participates in a Friday Bible study at Addington Primary with 38 other children.

CAST believes that in order to empower families and communities, we must rescue the cognitive potential of every child in every community where we partner through academic, creative arts and spiritual development programmes.  By reaching learners like Jemimah at the foundational phase, CAST is able to build the groundwork for academic success through developing reading and writing skills.  To learn more about how you can volunteer and support the Wordworks Early Literacy Programme, contact CAST at: 031 266 8830 or info@cast.org.za

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Nneka’s Story

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Nneka’s Story

By Rolan Gulston

Like many girls her age, twelve-year-old Nneka Useni from Addington Primary School loves spending time with her friends, reading, learning new recipes, taking selfies, and playing her favourite sport – netball, especially with her teammates on the CAST netball team. Over the years, CAST has developed a strong partnership with the school, facilitating early literacy programmes for the foundation-level, and sport and youth development programmes for the pre-teen age group.

Earlier this year, Nneka was one of 60 girls selected to attend the CAST Girls’ Camp, a 3-day retreat for the young ladies to learn about what it means to be resilient; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. “I learnt so much in just one weekend and felt so spoilt, I was smiling the whole time,” Nneka reminisces.  She especially enjoyed the team-building exercises, which challenged the girls in their ability to problem-solve and find solutions together.

The camp, she feels, has greatly impacted her life in helping her to develop a stronger relationship with God.

“Before, I always felt like the whole world was coming for me. I didn’t trust people, but now I know that people care about me and that the bad things will make me stronger.”

Nneka attends the Christ Embassy Church at China Mall in the Durban CBD, and has also joined the teen youth group, which gives her the space to talk about evangelism, freely express her views, and pray for others, which she found difficult to do before.

Growing up as the only girl at home since her mother’s passing in 2010, Nneka finds it difficult to connect with her older brother attending high school, and her father, who seldom gets to spend quality time with them because of work. The family are currently under tremendous financial strain, living on a social grant from SASSA, but unable to afford electricity for the past 3 months.

Despite this, Nneka has learnt to face these challenges with a positive attitude, displaying maturity and confidence far beyond her years. Having been a learner at the school since Grade One, Nneka has become a leader in her own rite, taking on the duties of library and drama monitor, as well as MC’ing the school’s recent Heritage Day celebration concert.

Nneka’s dream is to become an entrepreneur in the fashion industry. She will be attending high school at Durban Girls’ Secondary from next year, and intends on keeping up her good academic, and behavioural record. Fortunately, she has had the encouragement of her teachers to speak up and work hard toward her goals. She has also greatly appreciated the support from Thandi, CAST’s Girls’ Sport Co-ordinator, in her approach to coaching. “Thandi’s fair, she takes the time to listen to us. It’s easy to open up to her,” she says. This has also helped Nneka to form a strong bond with her teammates, and learn the value of teamwork.

Nneka’s journey through her childhood years at Addington Primary School has been greatly enriched by the time and resources provided by CAST through the generosity of our sponsors and volunteers. If you would like to get involved in shaping young lives through the Girls’ Sport and Youth Development programmes run by CAST, contact Thandi on 031 266 8830 or thandi@cast.org.za

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Dudu’s Story

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Dudu’s Story

By Rolan Gulston

In 2005, at the age of 42, Dudu Hlongwane was one of only two survivors in a fatal taxi accident. After spending six months at a rehabilitation centre, Dudu was diagnosed with a T-12 level spinal injury which has left her paralysed from the waist-down.

While in recovery, Dudu was counselled by a psychologist, who helped her to come to terms with what had happened. Through this, Dudu held to her belief that when she returned home, “God would help [her].” Unfortunately, her return came with many challenges. As a single mother, she had to rely on her elderly mother for support in caring for her two young sons, the older of whom began acting out in response to the trauma of his mother’s accident.

In 2009, they moved into an RDP house in KwaDabeka, which was modified to include a driveway to accommodate Dudu’s wheelchair. Before the accident, Dudu had been working for 19 years as a machinist at the Playtex factory in Durban. When she left, Dudu used her retirement payout to renovate their house by extending the rooms and widening some of the doorways. She is unable to afford to renovate her bathroom which she has never been able to use due to lack of accessibility. Her current wheelchair also brings her great discomfort in that it is too big and does not provide adequate support for her feet.

In 2013, Dudu got in touch with CAST’s KwaDabeka Community Co-ordinator, who received her into the food parcel programme. Travelling 5km to collect her monthly food parcel at the Community Centre at KwaDabeka Baptist Church proved to be quite difficult, so the food parcels are now delivered to her home by CAST’s Relief Services HOD.

While it is difficult for Dudu to live without the physical freedom she once had, she says that “…it is God who helps [her] to get up every day.” With the right equipment and material, Dudu is keen to make use of her skills and experience as a sewing machinist.

This Sunday is CAST Food Parcel Sunday at Westville Baptist Church.  For R200 ($15.50), you can sponsor a food parcel for a local family in need. The food parcels can feed a family of 4 for 2 weeks.  For more information on how you can empower community members like Dudu, please see Sandy Reid at the ministry desk, or contact her at 031 266 8830 / sandy@cast.org.za

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Living Art: Malusi’s Story

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Growing up in the rural community of Bergville, Malusi Manzini’s passion for artwork, creativity and recycling began with creating one model of a rural home out of cardboard.  At first, Malusi did not plan on using his God-given talent in creative arts. However, with a family of four brothers and two sisters and no one working at home, he managed to use his creativity to support his family.  Malusi made more artwork out of the materials he could find, such as plastic materials and cardboard, and sold them to raise income each month.

After matriculating, Malusi moved to Chesterville in 2012 to live with his brother, and was able to study Social Work at UNISA.   He continued to create artwork as he completed his Social Work practical in the community.

“After moving away from a rural area towards the city of Durban, I was so fascinated by the kind of lifestyle lived here. I could easily draw the difference in the type of infrastructure found here in the city with the ones in the rural areas, I was so motivated by this difference that I even decided to take a picture of one of the houses and tried to build it into a smaller scale using cardboard as part of recycling.”

During this time, he met Nomakaya Mpambaniso, CAST’s Chesterville Community Co-ordinator, who took an interest in his artwork.  Nomakaya encouraged Malusi to showcase his artwork at West City Fellowship (WCF) in Chesterville, and she also connected Malusi with CAST’s Youth Development Programme.

Excited about the opportunity, Malusi joined CAST as a volunteer soccer coach working with 23 boys between the ages of 13-15 years old.  However, he envisioned the programme to go beyond just sports.  Malusi realised that some of the boys showed artistic potential, so he developed a formal Creative Arts Programme.

The boys use recycled plastic materials and cardboard to create their artwork.  CAST and WCF also support Malusi’s programme by donating materials such as brushes, paint, scissors and glue.

“I like to work with the younger boys and share stories.  I tell them to try to be creative, try to make your own things.  Don’t depend on your parents.  I encourage the boys to finish matric and go to university.”

Malusi and his boys are looking forward to attending the upcoming CAST boys2Men Camp in October.  Although Malusi has not attended the camp previously, he believes this will be a good opportunity for his boys to develop values such as respect and self-determination, while also spending quality time with peers to share ideas and support each other in learning how to become strong men.

In the past month, ten boys from Malusi’s programme have raised the necessary funds (R200/$15 per boy) to attend camp.  CAST still needs to raise another R350/$27 per boy to cover the entire cost of 60 boys attending camp.  This is a unique opportunity for the boys to experience life outside of their community, grow in their walk with the Lord and learn more about what it means to become a man.  If you are interested in sponsoring one of Malusi’s boys to go to boys2Men camp or donating art supplies for the Creative Arts Programme, please contact George at: george@cast.org.za or 079 596 7364