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Sinikithemba

 

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At CAST’s Community Empowerment Centre in Chesterville, Nomakaya Mpambaniso (CAST’s Chesterville Community Co-ordinator) leads a counselling support group for those in the community.  Every week the group comes together for support, sewing and knitting projects, as well as fun games and activities.  Most of the group members receive food parcels from CAST, which helps to supplement their diet.  This past week Sinikithemba celebrated Youth Day by having group members dress up in school uniforms and playing school games to encourage staying active.

Below is the story of how the Sinikithemba Support Group has impacted the life of a group member, in her own words:

My name is Lindiwe Dlamini. I love God, and am very much appreciative to God for sacrificing his only Son Jesus Christ, and I am also in love with my community and my people.

I heard about the Sinikithemba Support Group (meaning ‘we bring hope’) and CAST, and volunteered there. This is where I met Mam’Glad, Carol, Lizzie, Mam’Njazi, Makhosi, with social workers and others – good people I met.

When I met these people on this particular day I was happy, excited and blessed to meet them. I listened attentively that everything they spoke about had Christian values and principles; they spoke about helping needy people in the community, respect, giving faith to the faithless and also assisting the needy with food parcels.

I was led by a Bible verse from Psalms 23 that says, “The Lord is Shepherd I shall not want.”

So I thought about the initiatives that were spoken about in the meeting and I had faith again and went out to the community to tell people of CAST and the Sinikithemba Support Group. More people were interested so Mam’Glad spoke to social worker that assisted a lot in the community.

People that are assisted in this community have hope, faith, respect and love. CAST has also led them closer to Christ.

We also assist people with counselling and refer them to the clinic, as well as helping the disabled and cleaning their homes if there is no one to help.

We thank you for the help and assistance, as well as the education and training, and the love we receive.

With this programme, you get all the assistance you need, even the ones who are on chronic medication have something nutritious to eat prior to taking treatment/medication.

We even visit schools to find out what problems they are facing and see where we can help as a group through the assistance of CAST.

In conclusion, we ask that CAST continue supporting communities like us because it makes a difference in the community and people gain hope, faith, and start living again and themselves go out to help others. We thank you for the great work and we love you guys.

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Zama

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For the past two years, CAST has been blessed with a team of social work students from UNISA and UKZN who do their practical placements with our organisation.  Last year, one of those students from UNISA, Zama Meyiwa, was placed at Addington Primary School with the Bright Site Project.  Now as a qualified social worker, Zama has joined the team of CAST interns for 2016.

“I want to put into practice what I’ve learned as a social worker and go into the community with an open mind.”

This year Zama will be primarily working with the Relief Services and Counselling Departments, while also assisting in other departments.  Her skills as a qualified social worker make her a valuable member of the CAST team!

Known as a serious person, Zama is a bit of a workaholic and likes to get stuff done.  However her passion for social inclusion is very evident.  Growing up in the rural community of Umbumbulu, Zama was motivated to pursue a career in which she could make a difference in the community and help others.

“Social work is mostly about development – not to just be there and do nothing, but to understand the people.  If you help a single person in the community, they will go out and help others.  Then the project will sustain itself.”

CAST relies on our amazing team of interns to accomplish much of the work the Lord has called us to do.  Our interns are supported by donors who believe in their calling and want to support CAST’s mission to mobilise the local church to reach out with practical compassion to empower, transform and redeem communities.  If you are interested in supporting Zama this year, you can either give directly through EFT (details below) or contact Charmaine Moses at: charmaine@cast.org.za

Nedbank, Branch: Westville Mall/138026

Account: CAST Trust, No: 101 7717 672

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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.

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“My Testimony”

This is a testimony from one of the participants involved in CAST’s Chesterville Counselling Support Group.  Names have been changed for the sake of confidentiality.

I greet everybody in the name of Jesus!  My name is Miss Lucy Nkosi and I’m a new creation, a child of God, who is residing here in Chesterville!

Firstly I would like to tell everyone that I am HIV positive and my CD4 count was very low.  When I first met this group called ‘CAST’ I met a new family and friends who gave me love and support and told me to be strong.  They told me that I can live with HIV just as long as I keep on taking my medication and not to default as I was a defaulter because of hunger.  How was I going to take my tablets without anything in my stomach?

I ended up taking drugs because of stress, thinking I was going to be better.  Lately I discovered that drugs was a cause of big stress.  I ended up fighting with my boyfriend thinking he doesn’t love me anymore because he also swore at me with those words that “I’m HIV positive” and “I’m the one who came with this disease!”

But for God’s sake He let me join this club.  In this group I’ve learned so much as I said before.  I’m not using drugs anymore.  I’m always collecting food parcels.  I’m taking my medication on time.

I’ve got a garden of vegetables and I’m eating fresh veggies.  Through this group I learned to plant.

I’m also thanking my God for helping me meet other people.  With Jesus they gave me real love – they supported me in everything.

Today my CD4 is saying my viral load is ‘not detectable’.

I wish God may bless them and everyone who is under this roof – may God bless you!

  • I’m a new creation
  • Jesus is my Saviour day by day
  • I will never turn back anymore
  • He’s my Shepherd, my strength
  • He’s taking me from glory to glory

I believe that… He’s my everything.  Amen!

Thank you very much CAST.  I love you guys!

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An Alliance of Churches: CAST’s History

The work of CAST started about 40 years ago, when Westville Baptist Church developed a relationship with Ephraim Mzobe, a young milk-delivery man in Westville and a strong Christian. Westville Baptist Church assisted Ephraim in pursuing further education. After Ephraim had studied for the ministry at Union Bible Institute, he went back to his home in Noodsberg and established the Noodsberg Baptist Church. Since then Westville Baptist Church and Noodberg Baptist Church have been sister churches in spreading the kingdom of God throughout the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Noodsberg Baptist Church

Noodsberg Baptist Church

It was through Pastor Mzobe that a more than 20 year friendship and partnership developed with KwaDabeka Baptist Church, and later with Lamontville Baptist Church – this was the beginning of an alliance of churches, working together to find solutions to poverty, as well as to social and spiritual problems.

KwaDabeka Baptist Church

KwaDabeka Baptist Church

Sixteen years ago a social worker from Westville Baptist trained a group of community health workers in Cato Manor—the problem, they told her is that we give the people their medicine, but they have no food and they cannot take it on an empty stomach. As a result, CAST’s Food Parcel Ministry was born. Since then, CAST has distributed 30,000 food parcels—about 3 million meals.

Ten years ago, a few key individuals from Westville Baptist Church also began a ministry to the Durban inner-city: services for the homeless, street outreach, Tuesday evening programmes, and holiday clubs for the kids. Soon after the Clothing Ministry was started by a group of our young adults.

Clothing Ministry

Clothing Ministry

Then in 2006, Westville Baptist Church decided to employ a full time director of Compassionate Ministries to help the whole church move forward strategically and deliberately in the area of poverty relief and social development. Early in 2007, Jean-Ray Knighton-Fitt was employed in this position. At that point it was just Jean-Ray and and one other staff working together. They consulted, planned, and started to look for ways to synchronise and make sense of the existing ministries.

In 2008 CAST added three more staff. CAST’s Counselling Ministry and Sports Ministry were born, and later that year, the Business Forum. The vision God had given Westville Baptist Church started to take shape, but it was still embryonic, a lot of people still struggled to understand who we were and what we did.

At the start of 2010, CAST had just formally launched as an NGO with its own identity and six staff:

We had one Counselling Centre,

a Sports Ministry in one community,

one Business Forum,

a Street Ministry and Youth Ministry Programme on Tuesday nights in town,

a small and rather chaotic Homework Centre in Addington,

we supplied about 180 food parcels a month to five communities, but we had no community workers and no proper way of monitoring who was getting the parcels,

and we had two church partnerships and two school partnerships.

However, 2010 was a big year of growth for CAST. Especially when we mobilised over 100 volunteers and took the streets of the city by storm during the World Cup. CAST’s projects grew, new projects were started: we built a soccer field in KwaDabeka, we opened our very own counselling room—we started to develop an identity.

KwaDabeka Soccer Pitch

KwaDabeka Soccer Pitch

2011 was an even more tremendous year of growth for us, with nine staff, and about 40 volunteers.  Our partnership with Cato Manor Mission Church was established, and in Durban Central we employed a Community Coordinator at Addington Primary School. We expanded our programmes in Noodsberg through Sports, Counselling and Food Parcels, and we built a Counselling Centre there.

In fact, that year we established four new Counselling Ministries, with three new Counselling Centres.  CAST also employed a Counselling Centres Manager. We got our own space for the Homework Centre and completely revamped it, and later our counselling room in Addington.

Our Sports Ministry built up the Lamontville soccer team to be one of the top teams in their league – unbeaten the whole season and they played in the SAFA champs. Sports Ministry also expanded into Addington and Noodsberg, and boys2Men camp ran for the first time.

Our Clothing Ministry went from being in utter shambles to being well organised and effective with a team of volunteers which we still have today. The size of our Food Parcel Ministry dramatically increased and we started the process of what would eventually become Hearts to Hands.

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Hearts to Hands

We started 2012 with 13 staff, more than 120 volunteers and offices in all five communities except Lamontville—that was set up during the year. The Business Forum took on a proper structure for the first time with a Business Development Coordinator and was also launched in Lamontville.

Business Forum in Lamontville

Business Forum in Lamontville

In 2013, we built a new container at KwaDabeka and had a great team of social work students. We started to work at doing a better job of integrating our programmes and made some good strides forward in that area. We started the process of merging with Joy Chapel / RidgeCity in Mariannridge through a Community Coordinator.  We also had the beginnings of a new Business Forum in Noodsberg.

Joy Chapel in Mariannridge

Joy Chapel in Mariannridge

CAST started 2014 with 20 staff.

One of the more exciting developments this year has been the merger with West City Fellowship (WCF) and programmes in Chesterville.

During this year we have also:

started a Business Forum in Durban Central,

opened a Community Centre container in Chesterville,

built a larger, more formal Coummunity Centre in KwaDabeka,

and started a girls’ tennis team in KwaDabeka.

With all the recent expansion, CAST’s new focus is on one key principle:

The Kingdom of God must become the central theme of everything we do.

Micah 6:8 was adopted as our theme verse:

“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.”

If the Kingdom of God is our central theme, then what we do is never primarily about us, or about CAST, or even about the poor and suffering.

It is about Jesus. It is about his ways and his standards, it is about his thoughts and his emotions and his agenda, it is about his rule and his Lordship and his glory.

And when he is king and the principles of his kingdom are lived out by his people, the church, then the darkness will flee before him: the darkness of addiction and abuse, the darkness of crime and corruption, and the darkness of depression and disease, of poverty and witchcraft and fear.

And the light of justice and mercy and equality will break forth like the rising sun.

This is why we are here. This is the heart of CAST.


“State of the Alliance” by Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt at CAST’s AGM 2014

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Job Readiness Day

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Joe White, from World Changers, speaking in KwaDabeka

Joe White, from World Changers, speaking in KwaDabeka

On 9 October 2014, CAST, Careerlinx, and World Changers Academy partnered to organize a “Job Readiness Day” in KwaDabeka. Almost 70 community members attended to hear several local speakers, including Joe White of World Changers Academy. Topics focused on interview skills, writing CVs and cover letters, and general job search tips.

With an unemployment rate of 35.4 percent, the community of KwaDabeka was targeted in order to prepare community members for interviews and the job application process. Careerlinx is committed to community upliftment and focused on empowering the unemployed and under-employed.

However, Careerlinx could not have accomplished this event without the help of CAST’s Social Work students (Wandile Dladla, Phumlani C Memela, Nondumiso Ntshangase, & Thembelihle Makhanya) from UKZN who are doing their practical placement within CAST’s Counselling Programme. During the past year, CAST has made an intentional effort to better integrate services in order to provide holistic care. The recent Job Readiness Day was a great example of teamwork between CAST’s Counselling Programme and Careerlinx.

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CAST Social Work Students and Careerlinx Staff

Similarly, CAST’s Social Work students have also been a great asset to the Counselling Programme by providing a conflict resolution support group to a special needs class at Addington Primary School. Since September, the Social Work students have meet twice a week with 14 students in Grade 3.

As one of the Social Work students stated, “The group was a necessity for the kids because of behavior problems. The kids would tease each other and fight.”

Even in the group setting, tackling behavior problems became a challenge. However, during the course of the group, the Grade 3 teachers began to notice a difference in their students thanks to the hard work and persistance of CAST’s Social Work students. Many of the behavior problems in the students stem from core family issues, which affect their learning as well. CAST’s Social Work students believe that therapeutic groups are the answer for many of these problems.

Thanks to our Social Work students, CAST is able to provide additional supportive services to the communities in which we work. These services are vital to achieving the mission of CAST’s Counselling Programme: “Providing centres of care and support in the heart of communities, that offer help and advice to people in need, moving them from helplessness to confidence.”  If you would like to know more about the integration of CAST’s Programmes, please visit our website at: http://cast.org.za

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Holistic Care in KwaDabeka

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Dedicated, committed, calm, introspective, approachable, humble: these are the words that best describe Samke, CAST’s Social Worker in KwaDabeka. Samke has been with CAST for two years, faithfully serving her community through multiple ways. One of Samke’s primary tasks is to provide counseling for individuals in her community.

Many of the families we encounter in CAST communities are living in chronic crisis where they have encountered continued crisis or in many cases are coping with multiple crises at the same time. Through our partnerships with local churches, CAST seeks to provide services to reach out to these families in order to empower them to overcome their crises and reach a place of hope.

We have established centres in all our communities to provide a space for these physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs to be met. CAST’s Social Workers, such as Samke, provide counselling services dealing with poverty, grief, depression, HIV, TB, rape, domestic violence, child abuse, drugs and alcohol and behavioural problems.

In the past Samke had counseled and worked out of a small container on the property of KwaDabeka Baptist Church. While there were plenty of CAST staff and social worker students to do the work in KwaDabeka, there was not enough room to accommodate the needs of clients. At times, the container was so crowded with clients that some had to stand while waiting for services. Additionally, during the summer the container was hot and stuffy, making counseling sessions very uncomfortable.

Old KwaDabeka container in front, new Community Centre in background

Old KwaDabeka container in front, new Community Centre in background

New CAST Community Centre being moved onto the property

New CAST Community Centre being moved onto the property

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New KwaDabeka Community Centre

As a result, last week CAST replaced the old KwaDabeka Community Centre container with a larger, more spacious mobile home trailer. This new Community Centre has two separate counseling rooms and a large open space which will be used for food parcel Sundays, group work such as support groups and workshops, training, and meetings. The KwaDabeka Centre is also equipped with air conditioning so that clients can be counseled in comfort.

During the past week, Samke has had many community members come up to her and ask about what CAST does in the new Community Centre. In Samke’s words, “This has put the Community Centre in the spotlight. We want to provide a quality service. We don’t want to make people wait for services like in a government building.”

Thanks to the new Centre, Samke and other social workers will be able to provide counseling services more effectively, accommodating more people in a space that creates dignity for clients.

Samke busy at Body and Soul!

Samke busy at Body and Soul!

However, Samke’s work in KwaDabeka is not limited to counseling. A few months ago, Samke helped to launch a fitness programme for women called Body and Soul in KwaDabeka. Fifteen women from her community meet weekly to not only exercise, but also to pursue holistic wellness in every area of their lives, including their relationship with Jesus. Body and Soul’s tagline is “where faith and fitness meet”.

The purpose of CAST’s Community Centres is to provide centres of care and support in the heart of communities, that offer help and advice to people in need, moving them from helplessness to confidence. Whether it is counselling or exercise, Samke is passionate about meeting the holistic needs of her community, and helping individuals from KwaDabeka reach a place of hope.  If you are interested in providing furnishings for the new KwaDabeka Community Centre or getting involved with Body and Soul in KwaDabeka, please contact Murry, CAST’s Volunteer Coordinator, at: murry@cast.org.za