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CAST Savings Club Story: Thuleleni Madlala

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A talented beadworker and aspiring entrepreneur in Chesterville, Thuleleni, recently discovered the importance of saving.  During the past month, CAST’s Business Development Department has launched several Saving Clubs for local entrepreneurs in the communities where CAST partners.  The goal is to encourage community members to set aside a bit of money each month for a specific goal they want to achieve with their family.

For Thuleleni, the Savings Club is an opportunity to budget and save for her children’s school uniforms and stationery next year.  Looking ahead, Thuleleni would like to open her own fast-food restaurant and continue to grow her beadwork business.  To achieve this, she is planning to save R100 ($8) a month.

Thuleleni currently supports her family through making handcrafts and jewellery, as well as selling empty buckets, cans, tins and bottles to a recycling company in Durban.  Twice a month, she pays for two seats on the taxi from Chesterville to Durban, one for her and one for the bottles.  Through recycling, Thuleleni is able to make R350-400 ($27-31) per month, in addition to the income from selling her handcrafts and beadwork.

Thuleleni is also a part of CAST’s Sinkithemba Support Group in Chesterville.  She lives with her two children and husband, and has two other children who live in Matatiele, whom she only gets to visit twice a year.  Three years ago, Thuleleni’s husband lost his job after the company he worked for collapsed.  The situation became even more challenging when her husband started to take up practise as a traditional healer, or sangoma.

Thuleleni loves Jesus, and enjoys attending church.  When she first joined Sinkithemba, she was able to benefit from CAST’s food parcel programme.  She continues to participate in the support group in order to grow spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

CAST seeks to empower individuals like Thuleleni through programmes that provide holistic support.  We believe that long-lasting development happens through relationships that are centred on mutual respect and understanding.  Every day CAST’s volunteers, staff and partner churches work together to make a difference in the Kingdom of God by reaching out to our neighbours with practical compassion.

If you would like to mentor an aspiring entrepreneur like Thuleleni, contact CAST’s Business Development HOD, Janet Okoye, at: janet@cast.org.za or 031 266 8830

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Desmond & Asina

Desmond & Asina

Desmond & Asina

In 2011, a pamphlet posted on an inner-city Durban street pole caught the eye of a couple living nearby.  The pamphlet mentioned services offered at Addington Primary School, and listed the name of a woman, Yasmin Adams, who worked with CAST.

The couple, Desmond and Asina, were local street vendors struggling to make ends meet.  Their decision to visit Yasmin at Addington Primary School began a lasting friendship.

At first, Desmond and Asina were offered CAST food parcels and clothing bags to help them get back on their feet.  The couple were able to grow their business through Paradigm Shift business training.  Desmond and Asina were thriving, able to rent their own flat and support themselves.

However, life became more difficult when Desmond’s health deteriorated and they stayed with his mum in Tongaat for two years.  For Asina, the move was especially challenging, as the family refused to accept her.

Eventually they returned to Durban, but housing was expensive.  Desmond and Asina finally found a single room to rent, for R2500 a month. One toilet, shower and kitchen are shared among the eight families who live in the house.  Mice eat through any food in the room, and leaking water pours down through the communal bathroom.

Desmond and Asina sell stickers, sweets and chips to the Addington Primary children, but the profit is minimal. Their families also refuse to visit or support them because of their living situation.  Currently, the couple is behind in rent and face eviction.

All of these stressors have put a huge strain on Desmond and Asina’s relationship.  Yasmin continues to meet with them for support and guidance.  However, Desmond and Asina desperately need a mentor to assist them with budgeting, building up their business again and growing their relationship with God.  If you are interested, please contact CAST at: 031 266 8830 or yasmin@cast.org.za

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Sibongile

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As a child, Sibongile learned about entrepreneurship from watching her mother sell television sets and radios.  Now as an entrepreneur herself, Sibongile goes door to door in KwaDabeka selling clothing to clients.  At the beginning of each month, she buys clothing bags from CAST for R50 each and manages to make an average profit of R1000 from each bag to support her four children.  The leftover clothing items she gives to the poor in her community.

Sibongile first heard about CAST two years ago, when their family was going through a difficult time.  Her son had a stroke and became paralyzed, unable to even speak.  As a result, Sibongile became his primary caretaker, and battled to work.  At the time, Sibongile’s daughter was also attending Sithokozile High School in KwaDabeka, and she needed exemption from school fees.  CAST’s social worker was able to assist with the exemption, and Sibongile was referred to CAST’s other programmes.

Sibongile received assistance through monthly food parcels, and joined CAST’s business forum in KwaDabeka.  She not only learned how to sell more clothes, but also found support from other local entrepreneurs, and even learned how to sew.

Recently Sibongile and other CAST Business forum entrepreneurs made Christmas tree decorations to sell.

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Although Sibongile is now able to support her family, she is still looking for a school that will provide specialised services for her son.

For 2017, Sibongile also has plans to volunteer with CAST’s Sport and Youth Department by starting a girls’ netball team in KwaDabeka.

CAST’s food parcel programme is intended to provide short-term assistance to individuals like Sibongile who are in an extremely difficult situation.  One of the ways CAST helps these individuals get back on their feet is through business forum, which empowers entrepreneurs to grow their small businesses and make a liveable income.

CAST is all about restoring dignity and hope to families who have lost faith that their situation will get better.  As you buy Christmas gifts this holiday season, please consider purchasing a CAST Snowflake Christmas tree decoration.  Each R200 donation will go towards a food parcel for a family in need.  You can make a difference and move beyond just charity this Christmas season by empowering a local family to move out of poverty.

Want to get involved?  Contact Zama at: zama@cast.org.za or 031 267 1716

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Spinach & Soccer

 

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Rain or shine, you won’t find Sibu sitting in his house.

A typical day for Sibu starts with tending his farm: cabbage, spinach, green pepper, mealies and green beans.  By noon he is finished and ready to help out in his community.  Between attending Noodsberg Baptist Church, coaching CAST’s Noodsberg soccer team, participating in CAST’s Business Forum and teaching community members how to farm, Sibu keeps busy.

Sibu first started giving back to his community by coaching soccer.  He noticed that the boys did not have a coach – you can read the full story here.

But as Sibu explains,”The aim is not about soccer, it’s about the church.”

It was at boys2Men camp last year that Sibu came to know Jesus, which changed his life forever.  Now Sibu wants his boys on the soccer team to also experience the same transformation.

That’s why he has the team pray when they finish playing, and makes sure that the boys are in church on Sundays and Wednesdays.

It’s why he visits the boys at home, connecting with their families and getting to know the challenges they face.

It’s why he teaches the boys how to farm, and gives them a chance to get work experience.

As a ‘big brother’, Sibu walks alongside his boys, preparing them for adulthood.  He encourages them to stay in Noodsberg, because he knows the importance of having positive role models for the younger children.

More recently, Sibu has been involved with CAST’s Business Forum in Noodsberg.  After 3 months he became a Paradigm Shift trainer, as he found more and more people approaching him to learn about farming.

This month Sibu decided to raise money for home gardens in Noodsberg by selling seedlings.  In a matter of just a few minutes, he raised R150.

Sibu explains his motivation for this project, “I want people not to ask me for food, but to grow their own food – that’s why I am selling seedlings.”

Volunteers like Sibu, who are passionate about their communities, are vital to sustainable community development in the areas where CAST works.  Sibu is using simple opportunities like farming spinach and coaching soccer to transform his community for the Kingdom of God.  If you would like to know more about how you can become a CAST volunteer like Sibu, email volunteers@cast.org.za to find out more information.

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Helping the Family Business

 

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Meet Jocelyn (on the far right), a CAST Business Forum Trainer in Mariannridge.  She decided to get involved with the CAST “family business” as we like to call it, to make an impact in a community she is well-acquainted with.

Q: How did you hear about CAST & the Business Forum?

A: I heard about CAST via Westville Baptist Church and the signup day they had in 2015.

Q: What made you want to give back in Mariannridge?

A: I chose Mariannridge as it has a special place in my heart as my grandparents lived there until their passing on. We visited there most Sundays as my grandmothers house was the gathering place for the aunts/uncles and the many cousins. I felt led to give back and work within this community to honour my grandparents and help build up this community.

Q: What have you learned from being involved with the Business Forum?

A: I experienced growth in confidence and facilitator training skills via leading trainer sessions. I also experienced tremendous growth spiritually via increased knowledge of the Bible and sharing the Word and experiences during the biblical sessions.

Q: What advice would you give others who are interested in volunteering with the Business Forum?

A: My advice would be for volunteers to come with an open mind and be prepared to give as well as receive during the training sessions. Patience will also be required (traffic, delayed starts, later finishes -sometimes only to allow the participants all a chance to share).

Q: What do you enjoy most about Business Forum?

A: There were quite a few enjoyable moments through out the weekly sessions: the role plays brought lots of laughter, the competitive atmosphere during the selling/promoting sessions and quiz sessions. The best/most important part enjoyed was the graduation ceremony where I felt tremendous joy and pride witnessing the participants I had worked with over the weeks graduate and to share in their excitement and joy of completing the course!

If you would like to make an impact like Jocelyn and join the family business, make sure to contact Stuart at: stuart@cast.org.za to hear more about CAST’s Business Development volunteer opportunities.

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Meet the Staff: Cindy & Stuart

CAST is blessed with an incredible staff who have a heart to serve the Lord and a tremendous amount of experience in community development.  This week we will be highlighting two of our staff members: Cindy Whittle, CAST Operations Office Administrator, & Stuart Talbot, CAST’s Business Development Head of Department.

Cindy

A new mother, former biology teacher, and passionate follower of Christ, Cindy enjoys working for an organisation that is made of like minded people who know the Lord and are seeking to serve Him.

As Cindy explains, “I love that CAST’s main focus is to link the local community to Christ, to each other, and to the local church.”

Cindy first became interested in development work through going on short-term mission trips with her church.  However it was her role as PEPFAR Fellow and Health Services Manager at Crossroads Children’s Home in the rural Eastern Cape town of Matatiele where she discovered her passion for community development.  Within this role, Cindy maintained a road-to-health plan for each child, which included testing and ARV treatment for HIV positive children, as well as vaccines, early detection of opportunistic infections, and making sure the child’s treatment was adhered to.

When reflecting on her experience, Cindy explained, “You can’t enter into a community where you haven’t developed relationships.  I believe that transformation comes from unconditional love.”

Cindy is motivated by her love for the Lord, others, and community work.  She loves seeing lives transformed by the Gospel, and God using ordinary people to reach others.

Stuart

Once described as a “walking book of Durban”, Stuart’s knowledge and experience of Durban’s inner city has become an incredibly valuable asset not only to CAST’s Business Development Department, but to the organisation as a whole.

Stuart enjoys connecting people to the Kingdom of God and getting “a-ha” moments at CAST.  While he might not care too much whether his shoelaces are tied, Stuart values justice, journeying, and especially discovering God in the least likely of places.

As a creative and out of the box thinker, Stuart has a different approach to Business Development.  He believes we support the people and they do the business development, not the other way around.  Instead of asking how many people CAST has impacted, Stuart believes we should ask “How many people don’t need us anymore?”

These are just two of our staff who are passionate about community development and the mission of CAST to assist local churches to empower, transform and redeem communities.  We are thankful to have an amazing 2016 staff team who are passionate about the Kingdom of God!

 

 

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Acting Justly, Loving Mercy, & Walking Humbly with our God

As this year comes to an end, the team here at CAST would like to thank our donors and volunteers for supporting Church Alliance for Social Transformation throughout 2015. God has used CAST to bring His Kingdom through mobilsing and aligning the local church to reach out with practical compassion, to empower, transform, and redeem lost and hurting communities.

Our theme verse, Micah 6:8, has been the focus of 2015 for CAST: to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. As we reflect on the year, we would to share five CAST highlights from 2015:

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1. Addington Camp & boysIIMen Camp: CAST’s annual youth camps were a great opportunity for children in our programmes to experience Christ in an environment outside their community. From a largely refugee community, 57 children attended Addington camp in Anerley and were introduced to Jesus. During boysIIMen Camp, 58 young men attended camp and 25 accepted Christ.

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2. Holiday Clubs: This year CAST partnered with local churches to put on holiday clubs in Addington, KwaDabeka, and the rural communities. Thanks to the hard work of Joseph Bode, many volunteers from our partner churches, and even an American team from Texas, CAST was able to provide a safe place for kids to learn more about Jesus during the school holidays.

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3. Lovebox Drive: This year CAST hosted our third annual lovebox drive. Over 400 children in CAST communities received a lovebox for Christmas and attended Christmas parties in their communities.

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4. Xenophobia Response: In April, the refugee community in Durban experienced xenophobic violence. CAST in partnership with Westville Baptist Church and several other local churches and organisations responsed to this violence by providing relief to those families and individuals affected. Westville Baptist Church’s Youth Centre turned into a temporary warehouse overnight for the many food, household, hygiene and children’s items donated. CAST has continued to work with the affected families and individuals by partnering with UNHCR to provide housing packages as well as support through counselling, dialogues, and data capturing.

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5. Our 5 Core Programmes: Although they are the understated backbone of our organisation, CAST’s Poverty Relief, Counselling, Youth Development, Educational Assistance, and Business Development Programmes provide the vehicle for community transformation to happen. On a daily basis, so many inviduals and families are impacted by the programmes that CAST offers in partnership with local churches. From food parcels given to families in desperate need all the way to entrepreneurs trying out their new business ideas in Lions’ Den, God is using CAST in a powerful way to grow the Kingdom of God.

Thanks to both our donors and volunteers, CAST has been able to continue our existing programmes while also expanding the reach of those programmes to transform individuals, families, and communities. During the year we had amazing opportunities to reach out and move beyond just charity to truly live out God’s call in Micah 6:8. Whether you acted justly by fighting against injustice for refugees through CAST’s relief effots, or loved mercy by mentoring a young teenager in CAST’s Youth Development Programme, we have all walked this road of serving and humbling trusting our Saviour together in 2015. CAST would like to wish all our donors and volunteers a very peaceful Christmas as we remember our Saviour’s birth.