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Triumphant in Christ: Tryphina Mhlanzi’s Story

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Since joining CAST four years ago, Tryphina Mhlanzi, affectionately known as “Mam’Njazi”, has brought life to CAST’s Food Parcel Ministry Days on her visits to our Community Centres in Mariannridge, Lamontville, Noodsberg and Chibini this past year with her passionate and upbeat leading of praise and worship. She is also a participant in CAST’s Business Forum as well as a facilitator for the weekly support group at West City Fellowship, CAST’s partner church in Chesterville, which welcomes ladies from the community and members of the church to come together and build meaningful relationships.

Growing up in Greytown, she came to Durban in the 1980s seeking employment as a domestic worker and worked for several families in Westville. Through one of her employers who attended Westville Truth and Fellowship Church (now West City Fellowship), she was invited to a weekly gathering with other domestic workers during their lunch breaks to listen to the Word.

It was at this gathering, 32 years ago, where Tryphina met Nomakaya Mpambaniso, current Community Co-ordinator for CAST in the Chesterville area, who was also employed as a domestic worker at the time. Their friendship has grown into a deep bond over the years, as they have also served together as foster mothers at Vukukhanye Children’s Home, a transition home established by WCF 12 years ago. Since taking on that position at the home, Tryphina has witnessed the anguish of many abused children that have come into her care, and has felt both joy and sadness in welcoming some and bidding farewell to others.

In her spare time, Tryphina oversees the running of a ‘spaza’ shop started up by her late husband in Marianhill. Participating in CAST’s Local Economic Development programme has taught her useful knowledge and skills in improving her business, particularly in branding, book-keeping and networking. Most valuable, though, has been learning the importance of keeping God at the centre of her business practice, “because we cannot do anything without God,” she says.

Although Tryphina takes comfort in having a strong relationship with God, she shares that this was not always the case, particularly when she was younger.

“People in my community talked about church, but they didn’t talk about God. To be a Christian is not about going to the building, it’s about having a relationship with God” she says.

As a single mother of two daughters, she has found herself having to rely on God more and more to get by. Her husband suffered a long-term illness and passed away 12 years ago. Her elder daughter, Mbali, a qualified journalist, is an active leader serving in the youth ministry of the church, but is currently unable to find full-time employment. Tryphina’s younger daughter, Tracy, a past participant in CAST’s Youth Development programme is diligently working towards attaining a degree in Teaching.

Tryphina’s message to those that she ministers to is one of hope and encouragement to use what God has given them by taking every opportunity to improve their circumstances and ultimately move out of poverty, without shame. She readily shares her testimony and motivates people to also inspire others with what God has been doing in their lives. “To have a challenging life,” she says, “is to know that God is using me. That’s where I find boldness.”

Building supportive relationships with those we serve in our communities is at the centre of our mission in helping them to know God and move out of financial and spiritual poverty. To be a part of this ministry in any of the 10 sites in which we operate, contact Head of Relief Services Sandy Reid at: sandy@cast.org.za or call (031) 266 8830.

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Faith like [Sweet] Potatoes: Philisiwe Sithole’s Story

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Married mother of two, Philisiwe Sithole, has big dreams for her gardening and recycling project at her home in Chesterville. “God gave me a passion for growing my own food,” she says.

She and her family moved from Sherwood to Chesterville two years ago. Though challenged by limited space at her previous home, she explored container gardening using 2-litre plastic bottles and ‘grow bags’ to grow spinach and chillies.

Now, Philisiwe makes use of cardboard materials such as toilet rolls and egg trays for compost in her outdoor garden. Philisiwe is determined to grow her produce organically, with no chemicals.

Not long ago, she harvested a large mielie (corn) plantation and grew many other crops which helped to sustain her family and share with neighbours. Philisiwe laments that she did not have the knowledge or resources to sustain that level of growth. Her yard now sits bare and weed-infested, save for the recently planted patch of sweet potatoes.

“People don’t believe that you can do gardening here. They think you can only do it on a farm. I see the possibilities of gardening here.”

Philisiwe spotted the potential of a section of vacant land close to her backyard where community members were dumping waste. She has since applied for and been granted permission by the Local Councillor to use it for a vegetable garden, which she has now cleared up and used to plant butter beans. Philisiwe plans to grow chillies, garlic and green peppers as there are no other vendors selling those nearby, which would make her a sole supplier for the high demand of these agricultural products.

Philisiwe works with an elderly woman in her community, Mam Mavis. In October 2018, she entered a traditional food competition run by the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development using the vegetables from her garden and took first place, winning cooking appliances.

Personally, Philisiwe’s family receives an income through a government grant for child support, piece jobs that her husband does, as well as money from renting out their home in Sherwood.

Since moving to Chesterville, she joined West City Fellowship, CAST’s partner church in the area, and first heard about CAST when they announced the Business Course. Philisiwe also currently volunteers as a tutor in the Word Works Early Literacy programme facilitated by CAST at HP Ngwenya Primary School.

She has completed the second module of the Paradigm Shift Business Growth Course where she has learnt more about marketing and the importance of knowing God as you are running your business.

For Philisiwe and her family, West City Fellowship has been the first church where she feels their personal and spiritual needs are met holistically. Having a relationship with the church leaders has given her a safe space to share her experiences, personal problems and feel supported. She reflects on the improvement in her personal life, as well as in her children.

In order to start up and develop her business, Philisiwe needs a business plan and mentorship in gardening to ensure sustainability and consistency and looks forward to getting in touch with those who have the skills to teach her more about gardening.

This year, Philisiwe hopes to attend “Farming God’s Way”, a 7-day in-field mentoring course taking place in October aimed at teaching practical skills in agriculture in poor communities. The cost of the course is R2500, which includes meals and accommodation.

If you are keen to contribute to the cost of Philisiwe’s training or share expertise in agriculture and business, contact CAST on (031) 266 8830 or e-mail head of Local Economic Development, Janet Okoye, at: janet@cast.org.za

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Hope for the Future: Judith’s Story

By Rolan Gulston

cast-judith-volunteer-hope-mariannridge01Since joining CAST as a programme participant two years ago, 31-year-old Judith Abrams has made a valuable impact in giving back to her community as a volunteer for CAST’s Child Literacy and Youth Development programmes.

Judith came to know CAST through a friend who worked at the Mariannridge CAST Community Centre assisting in the facilitation of programmes. She then signed up to participate in the Business Experience and Business Growth courses to learn how she could improve her own small business of selling cooked food from home, which she has been running for the past 2 years.

After successfully completing the course and graduating in 2018, Judith felt a renewed passion to expand her business, which she co-runs with her sister. Firstly, by registering her enterprise, “Judith’s Fast Food”, and then applying to the Local Councillor for permission to operate at the community taxi rank, the busiest spot in the area. Her long-term goal is to invest her profits into starting a franchise.

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Since learning these new skills, Judith feels a greater sense of self-belief and hope for the future. She looks forward to joining CAST’s sewing team in Mariannridge and would like to learn how to make evening attire, as there is a big market for Matric dance outfits in her community. Judith also dreams of pursuing a career in nursing, particularly in paediatrics, as she feels called to work with children.

This love of children drew her to volunteering with CAST as a tutor for the Word Works Early Literacy programme for Grade One’s, as well as facilitating the Resilience Life Orientation programme for the Grade Six learners at Mariannridge Primary School, a stone’s throw away from the CAST Community Centre.

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Learning how to teach Foundational Literacy using the Word Works material has helped Judith beyond the classroom in assisting her son who experiences learning difficulties due to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She has developed a greater understanding of his cognitive-developmental level and has learnt how to be more patient with him.

The Resilience programme forms part of the national Life Orientation school curriculum, guiding children in the pre-teen age group to make ‘smart moves’ and work towards achieving their goals. Mentoring the children in this programme has created the space for Judith to form strong, supportive relationships with the youth in her community.

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The programme has helped Judith to “become one with the children in the community. They open up more,” she says. Having a 12-year-old daughter herself, Judith enjoys mentoring this age group as they move into their teen years and need more guidance through the many changes in their development, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Two children that Judith has worked with, in particular, have made great strides in improving their behaviour. One, a young boy bullied about his weight, who, in turn, started bullying others, has since stopped picking fights at school. Another, a young girl who turned to alcohol to cope with personal difficulties, invited Judith to join her family Sunday lunch and has been encouraged by Judith to make better choices.

Growing up in challenging circumstances, Judith knows first-hand the undue strain that these children experience when they are forced to grow up too quickly and take on adult responsibilities at home, often turning to harmful substances to alleviate the pressure. Her family did not have a steady income, and she suffered through an abusive relationship with her aunt. Other than her sister whom she currently lives with, Judith has little family support – her mother having passed away when she was younger, and her father remarrying and moved away. The father of Judith’s two children died tragically in a motorcycle accident.

Becoming a mother gave Judith the strength to stand up for herself and move past the pain. She has since made peace with the aunt who raised her and continues to pray for her. Being part of a strong spiritual community at a church in Mariannridge also helps Judith to feel supported and make positive changes in her life.

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Judith believes that there is hope, too, for the youth in her community. The key, she says, is “to stand together, and show them that we care.” Spending time consistently engaging with children and youth in the programmes have shown to have a significant positive impact on their development. If you would like to get involved in mentoring or tutoring in one of CAST’s target communities, contact us at: info@cast.org.za or call (+27) 31 266 8830 for more information.

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Saving Grace: Ali’s Story

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Young entrepreneur, Ali Adan from Kiamaiko in Nairobi, Kenya has found great success since completing the Business Courses offered by CAST in 2018. At just twenty years of age, he had already established his own butchery selling goat meat, earning up to 500 Kenyan Shillings (R62,50) a day, but admits that he would spend his money carelessly, without proper budgeting or financial planning. “As the day ended I could not account for the money,” he says. “I had nothing in my pocket.”

This changed when he heard the announcement about the course at CAST’s partner church in Huruma, Evangelical Victory Church. Eager to improve his business skills, he signed up for the course and learned valuable lessons which have made a significant difference in his life, professionally and personally.

“Firstly, I have learnt the importance of saving. Before I joined CAST, I never saved. I am proud to say that I have some money in my account now.  Secondly, I learnt to manage my time well. Thirdly, I learnt to be polite and respectful to my customers. And lastly, I have also learnt to appreciate my customers by giving discounts and incentives.  These are my top four key lessons that CAST has empowered me with among many other business skills.”

He adds that through the course, he learnt to run an honest business that honours God.  “I was challenged to read my Bible every day and memorize scriptures,” he says. “I have actually done further studies to understand the mystery of the Trinity.” Ali is an active member of his church as a cell group leader that meets twice a week for Bible Study.

Having grown up in the farmlands outside Nairobi City, where most of his family still live, Ali has big dreams for the future: “I would like to be a successful leader in Ministry, specifically in Youth Ministry, and secondly, an international business entrepreneur with my head office in London!”

To make this possible, Ali plans to work hard in his business, save money well, invest money wisely to expand and lastly, “pray to God to give [him] wisdom and strength to accomplish all these.”

If you would like to help make a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs like Ali, contact CAST on (031) 266 8830 or email: info@cast.org.za or you may contact Joseph Bode, the Nairobi Area Manager at joseph@cast.org.za.

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Leading the Way in Mathare, Kenya: Joyce’s Story

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38-year-old Joyce Alinda lives in the Mathare slum in Kenya and helps women to become financially stable by teaching them beadwork and business skills. When the Local Economic Development programme was introduced to a group of pastors in Huruma, Kenya in early 2018, Joyce, one of the pastors’ wives, jumped on board to volunteer as a business trainer and mentor. “I was inspired once I learnt the vision of CAST” she says, “and I love community work and empowering others.”

CAST Kenya launched in March 2018 and has grown in leaps and bounds. In the past 9 months, already 102 people have successfully completed the Business Experience Course and 58 have graduated from the Business Growth Courses and are on their way to starting their own businesses.

Facilitating Bible study as part of the business training takes the teachings beyond pure academics, it opens the door for participants to be guided by Christian values. “I have seen the need to involve God in every part of life including our businesses. This has challenged me to encourage others to seek to run an honest business.”

Living in the Mathare slums with her husband and two children, Joyce has always been an active member serving her community. Her latest project has helped empower the women in her area through teaching beadwork and business skills that she has learnt from the programme. She also intends starting a much-needed day-care centre.

In a personal capacity, Joyce has also gained confidence in her ability to lead and now aspires to be a motivational speaker. She has since organized a fellowship group for the other pastors’ wives in her community and has been inspired by the programme to grow in her spiritual development by memorizing verses from scripture.

If you would like to get involved in training or mentoring entrepreneurs, or help support CAST Kenya, contact us at: info@cast.org.za or (031) 266 8830. Alternatively, contact the East Africa-Kenya Office at: joseph@cast.org.za or (+254) 772 667364.

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Getting Down to Business: Lebohang’s Story

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At just twenty-years-old, Lebohang Gaula is already a thriving businessman. It all began in August last year, when he spotted a CAST flyer at a local shop in KwaDabeka and jumped at the opportunity to join the business programme.

Over the course of 3 months, he successfully completed the Business Experience Course and Business Growth Course. Using what he learnt, he set about starting his own business.

Like many of the youth in his community, he faced challenges in his home life that made him vulnerable to a life of crime and alcohol abuse. But Lebohang was determined not to go down this path. Straight out of school, he tried making money through selling CDs and taking piece jobs, but this did not offer any stability.

Through the programme, he learnt how to put together a business plan, bookkeeping, and marketing. “If you want to be a businessman,” he says, “you must think like one. You must find solutions.”

Lebohang saw a gap in the market for a cleaning company and again, grabbed the opportunity to learn chemical manufacturing through an advertisement in the newspaper. He used the little money he had to pay for the course and was soon mixing his own cleaning products, and registered his brand, “Gaula Cleaning Products.”

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Lebohang currently runs the business from his home in KwaDabeka. He is steadily working towards opening an office in Pinetown and plans to expand his business into a full cleaning service for residential, commercial, as well as public premises.

Lebohang is grateful for his time in the business programme saying, “CAST taught me how to have courage and be a go-getter.” He also feels that, through the spiritual nurturing of his mentors, he now has a closer relationship with God.

When asked about his long-term goal, Lebohang says: “I want to change my community. I want to help them become better people, especially the youth.”

Mentoring entrepreneurs in our communities like Lebohang can make a world of difference in shaping their future success. To get involved, contact Janet Okoye at: janet@cast.org.za or (031) 266 8830.

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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