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Thoko the Teacher

One of CAST’s most faithful volunteers, Thoko was more than thrilled to become a CAST intern at the beginning of this year. Thoko’s journey with CAST began in 2014 when he was working a part-time job and looking for a way to give back to his community. One Sunday morning Thoko came to Westville Baptist Church, with a CV in hand and hoping for a chance to volunteer. After hearing CAST’s Executive Director, Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt, speak during the service, Thoko knew CAST was the place for him.

Thoko is originally from the small country of Malawi. As Thoko explains, “Malawians are too nice. Everyone greets you. Malawi is a poor country, but its people are hardworking.”

True to his word, Thoko used his passion for teaching through volunteering at CAST’s Homework Club in Addington. Last year when Homework Club transformed into the new Wordworks Literacy Programme, Thoko was excited to get involved.

When children come to the programme who are struggling with reading and writing, Thoko finds it incredibly fulfilling to work with the students. While volunteering with students who have fallen behind requires some serious patience, Thoko believes any volunteer can find a sense of fulfillment from getting involved with CAST’s Literacy Programme. The more informal and fun learning environment allows students to make enormous improvement within a short amount of time.

As Thoko explains, “The Literacy Programme opens up a whole future to the kids.” Without adequate reading or writing skills, students struggle to succeed in every subject. The goal of CAST’s Literacy Programme is to help students with basic literacy and language skills that lay the foundation for overall academic performance.

CAST’s Literacy Programme is completely dependent on volunteers who give a few hours of their time a week. If you have a heart for kids and education, and want to get involved, just email Murry at: murry@cast.org.za to find out more. CAST provides Wordworks training that makes it easy to get started. The Literacy Programme runs on Tuesday and Thursday at Addington Primary School in Durban central.

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The Lions’ Den

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Have you ever thought of an awesome business idea good enough for the TV show Dragon’s Den?  CAST’s Business Development Programme is starting our very own version of this competition called the “Lions’ Den” where local entrepreneurs from the township can apply to share their business ideas with a local panel who decide whether they are eligible for a loan.

Lindelwe Moyo, CAST’s Business Development Manager, had always thought about using the Dragon’s Den format for the Business Forum.  Last year CAST sent Lindelwe to the Denver Rescue Mission in the US, and he was able to shadow local banks and organisations dealing with micro loans to gain some new ideas.  Then when BEE funding came to the Business Development Programme, Lindelwe knew it was time to put the Lions’ Den into practice.

This is the way Lions’ Den will work:

1.  Introduction of the Idea to Entrepreneurs

This involves watching videos of the TV programme “Dragons’ Den” and giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to ask preliminary questions.

2.  Profiling & Public Voting

Interested applicants complete one page profiles of themselves and their business ideas. Fellow forum members also get a chance to vote for potential candidates. A business must get at least 5 votes or have proper documentation/recommendations to be considered.

3.  Business Bootcamp

Training & practice for entrepreneurs on how to handle interview questions.

4.  Loans Rewarded

Panelists will select 5 – 20 loan/grant recipients from eligible businesses.

5.  Post – Lending

Follow up visits to entrepreneurs (successful and unsuccessful).

After having presented the Lions’ Den to CAST’s business forum participants, many of the entrepreneurs are excited to apply, but some are intimidated by the competitive process.  The Lions’ Den is also open to entrepreneurs who are not already involved with CAST’s Business Forum, which really opens the doors for CAST to impact the greater community by allowing individuals to develop their businesses in order to provide for their families.

As Lindelwe explains, “This is an opportunity for CAST to make its mark.”

If the Lions’ Den interests you, please email Lindelwe at lindelwe@cast.org.za for more information about how you can get involved.

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Sam the Man

As one of the team captains this past year, Sam has been faithfully leading the CAST basketball team in KwaDabeka.  A humble, genuine, and consistent leader, Sam is always at practice, always ready to help out, and always friendly to whomever he meets.  Sam just finished and passed Matric at the ripe old age of 17.

Last year, Sam began a mentoring relationship with Mike Cox, a long-time supporter of CAST’s Youth Development Programme who attends Westville Baptist Church.  Before they started meeting, Sam didn’t believe much in himself.  But after meeting a few times with his mentor at Mugg & Bean, things began to change.  One of Sam’s best qualities is his inquisitive nature; he is quick to ask thoughtful questions.  And as Mike answered Sam’s questions, he began to look at life in a different way.

Sam had always planned to study business at university.  However, Mike challenged Sam to consider starting his own business, focusing on hard work, keeping time, and cultivating passion for what you do.

After Sam applied to University of Western Cape and was denied with the only hope of being reconsidered at the end of the year, he began to lose hope.

However, as Sam said, “If Mike believes in me, how can I not believe in myself?  Whenever I want to give up, I think of Mike Cox.”

Over time, Sam felt the freedom to chat with Mike when things went wrong at home or school.  Mike even invited Sam to go to Ushaka with his family.  After feeling the acceptance, understanding, and encouragement of Mike, Sam felt different.  As Sam says, “I want to see what’s out there for me.”

Sam with Mike's family

Sam with Mike’s family

Sam is one of several Senior Team Members in CAST’s KwaDabeka Youth Development Programme who have benefitted this year from mentoring and tutoring offered by CAST.  CAST believes in empowering youth to reach their potential.  One way you can get involved is through mentoring.  Many of the guys in our programme are growing up without an active father-figure in their lives.  As a mentor, you can make a huge impact by having coffee with a young man even once a month.

Another way you can get involved with CAST’s Youth Development Programme is through academic tutoring. Because of the lack of resources in township schools, many of our guys need academic assistance to succeed in Matric.  If you are knowledgeable in Maths, Science, or English, come check out CAST’s tutoring programme on Friday afternoons in KwaDabeka.

Feel free to email George Mwaura at george@cast.org.za if either of these opportunities interest you!