Hands-up for Mariannridge

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Fiona with her son

Fiona’s Story

Last year when her son was having health problems, Fiona used to walk to the clinic in Mariannridge regularly.  One day while walking back from the clinic with a friend, she noticed the CAST centre.  Fiona and her friend decided that they needed to come and find out what was going on there.

Fiona happened to know Ralph Williams, CAST’s Mariannridge Community Co-ordinator. When she explained to him that she didn’t have electricity at her home or anything to cook, Ralph told her that he would bless her with a CAST food parcel and clothing for her children.

To make ends meet, Fiona does washing and ironing for people in the community.  However, she battles to provide clothing for her children, especially school uniforms.  This became an even bigger challenge recently when her adult son began to steal from them to fund his drug addiction.

Fiona lives at home with her mother and two younger children.  She is a caretaker both for her mother, who is often in and out of hospital, and for her husband, who suffers from severe arthritis and uses crutches to walk.

She used to live with her husband, however when his family came between the two of them, they chose to separate. Despite all the challenges, Fiona still loves and cares for her husband, even making sure he has home-cooked meals.

“I told myself, ‘Let me examine my heart.’ I forgave the family and my husband.  We need to forgive.  God told me to carry on caring for my husband.  I keep forgiving; God will deal with it.”

Fiona’s heart to forgive is evident of her love for the Lord.

“God gives me the strength to care for my husband and mother.  God knows what he has in store for us.”

Fiona also loves giving back to her community.  Recently, she and several other CAST food parcel recipients got together to help clean up at a local high school.

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CAST Clean-up day in Mariannridge

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Charmaine with Ralph, CAST’s Mariannridge Community Co-ordinator

Charmaine’s Story:

Charmaine’s journey with CAST began when her husband lost his job with Tanker Services.  Charmaine had also lost her job with an NGO in Pinetown when the organisation closed down.  Struggling to make ends meet, Charmaine reached out to Ralph at the CAST Centre.  Ralph was able to provide Charmaine with a food parcel, which provided relief for her family while they waited for Charmaine’s husband to receive his pension.  Charmaine had hope that things were going to get better.

But her hope quickly disappeared.  When Charmaine’s husband received his pension, he gave all the money away to a local witchdoctor.  As he got more and more entangled with the witchdoctor, he went so far as to sell off all their household items, until the house was completely empty.  Unable to bare the abusive situation anymore, Charmaine left her husband.

She now rents a single room and makes some money off of selling fish & chips and bunny chows in the community.  Still, Charmaine’s dream is to work in home-based care again, especially with the elderly.

“It’s easy to think, ‘Why you?’ You think ‘Why has God forsaken me?’  We were the talk of Mariannridge.  But God can change me.  I would love to give people the love I never had.”

CAST’s food parcel programme is a vital part of providing supportive relief services to individuals such as Charmaine, who are often in a desperate and vulnerable position.  Those who receive food parcels are regularly assessed by community co-ordinators, and receive additional group support through monthly food parcel recipient gatherings.  CAST’s goal is to also empower food parcel recipients to find meaningful work through the business forum, in order to become self-sufficient.

As the holidays near, please consider giving towards CAST’s Hands-up for Christmas Drive.  For each R200 donation, you will receive a snowflake or wooden Christmas tree decoration, which will remind you of the family that will be blessed with a food parcel.  Our food parcel programme provides food to 300 needy families in the communities where CAST works.

For more information, contact Zama Meyiwa at: zama@cast.org.za or 031 267 1716

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