1

Remembering Ernie

IMG_0897.JPG

CAST Sunday at Noodsberg Baptist Church, 2013.  From left to right, Bongani Mkhize (CAST Noodsberg Area Co-ordiantor), Ernie Calder, Pastor Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt (CAST Executive Director), Pastor Ephraim Mzobe (Noodsberg Baptist), Debbie Calder

Often we think that “social transformation” is all about big events, speeches and important people. But in reality change happens gradually through many, many seemingly insignificant conversations, friendships and acts of love.  It is these consistent, daily acts of love that make an eternal impact in the Kingdom of God. About thirteen years ago, two volunteers began to reach across the economic and cultural divide and develop friendships with people and churches in Noodsberg and KwaDabeka.

Year after year Ernie and Debbie Calder delivered food parcels, driving their bakkie out as far as Noodsberg (90 minutes away) every month, providing hundreds of thousands of meals every year.

But it was never only about the food, deep and lasting friendships developed between the Calders and members of these communities. Over time these relationships evolved into training programmes and food gardens. These were the beginning of CAST’s programmes in these communities. As CAST ministries spread out from Noodsberg into the surrounding areas of Appelsbosch and Chibini so the legacy of the Calders grew with them – now serving almost 2000 people every month in these communities, through nutritional support, educational programmes, children’s ministry, and the development of farming and business.

Last year Ernie celebrated his 80th birthday, but Debbie and Ernie continued to serve as core volunteers with CAST right up until the end of 2016.

Last week, the CAST team were deeply saddened to hear that Ernie had gone to be with the Lord on Monday after a seven hour heart operation. While the CAST team is heartbroken, we will always remember his humble, serving spirit, genuine love of others and concern for our neighbouring communities.  Debbie is also in our prayers.

IMG_0906.JPG

0

Hands Up for Christmas In Action

 

IMG_9297.JPG

For CAST, December has been all about celebrating children and the gift of Christmas.  Thanks to all the generous donations we received, CAST was able to give a toy to every child on our food parcel programme.  This may be the only Christmas gift some of the children receive, so thank you for making a difference!

In both Chibini and KwaDabeka, CAST partnered with the local church to host a Christmas party and lunch for the children.  This was not only to give out the toys, but also to award the children’s academic achievement and participation in CAST’s programmes.  We believe it is important to celebrate children by communicating that they are valued and loved by God.  This may be the only opportunity they have to hear the Gospel and understand their worth in Christ.

kdb

The Toy Drive may be over, but Hands Up for Christmas is not!  CAST is a little over halfway to our goal of sponsoring 1000 food parcels for 2017.  If you are still looking for a last minute Christmas gift and don’t want to deal the madness of Christmas shopping, CAST’s Christmas snowflake decoration is the answer.  For R200 ($14) you can sponsor a food parcel in someone’s name and receive a snowflake Christmas tree decoration.  This will remind them of the family they blessed this Christmas season.

You can give directly online here:

https://www.givengain.com/cause/4933/campaigns/17462/

For more information contact Laura Mbugua-Mwaura at: laura@cast.org.za

0

Hearts to Hands Relief

 

15416803_10154879000611189_823163531_n15424492_10154878999971189_1459776451_n15356109_10154878997191189_1955935020_n

Earlier in the year on 30 September 2016, a small informal settlement community near Blackburn was reduced to ashes overnight.  After an unattended child dropped a candle, the flames quickly grew, destroying 10 shacks.  The families were left homeless, with no food or clothing.

A local church, Blackburn Mission Church (BMC), decided to provide relief to this community.  Pastor John Matthias of BMC reached out to Cornerstone Community Church (CCC) in Phoenix to assist with providing the families emergency food and clothing.  Through Charmaine Moses, CAST’s General Manager, both churches were able to partner with CAST to provide the families in need with 10 CAST food parcels and additional food parcel hampers from the two churches.

Informal settlement fires are common due to the close proximity of shacks and high flammability of shack materials.  In addition, many families use paraffin lamps or candles to light their homes when there is no electricity, making the chance of home fires much more likely.

CAST’s Relief Services Department assists with emergency relief for individuals left homeless by fires and floods.  One of the ways we do this is through giving food parcels containing items such as peanut butter, beans, soup mix, mealie meal and oil.  The parcels are designed to feed a family of four for two weeks.  CAST also provides clothing bags for these families.

By donating towards CAST’s Hearts to Hands food parcel programme, you too can be a part of making sure families in local communities are cared for during emergency situations.  You can sponsor a food parcel for R200, and in turn you will receive a Hearts to Hands Christmas ornament to remember the family you have blessed.

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

0

Sibongile

IMG_8827.JPG

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.

15134302_10154831017651189_1820685734_n.jpg

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

0

Hands-up for Mariannridge

img_8820

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.

15152845_10154818774751189_658052074_o

CAST Clean-up day in Mariannridge

img_8817

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

0

Buckets of Hope

bucket

Last week CAST had the opportunity to partner with Baptist Global Response to provide hospice buckets for bedridden community members in KwaDabeka and Chesterville.

Baptist Global Response is a global Southern Baptist relief and development organisation with a heart for helping the poor and suffering to have the opportunity to experience a full and meaningful life.  One of the ways they do this is through hospice buckets, which provide basic resources (such as bedding, straws, gloves, etc.) to assist caregivers in providing the best possible care for bedridden individuals.

Americans pack the buckets in the States, and the buckets are then shipped all over Africa to countries where Baptist Global Response works.  Every bucket is prayed over, specifically for the family that will receive it.

The goal of the hospice buckets is to not only provide dignity for those who are sick or disabled, but to also open a door for the gospel to be shared.  Laura O’Loughlin of Baptist Global Response shared just how to do that at CAST’s Community Centres in KwaDabeka and Chesterville.  Community volunteers were trained on how to use the bucket, and given practical tools on how to share the love of Christ with those who receive the bucket.

img_8778

img_8702

img_8784

 

To find out more about the Bucket Project, check out: https://www.facebook.com/BGRHospiceKits/about/

 

0

Sinikithemba

 

13495311_10154372766176189_6161893260092698566_n13510828_10154372769311189_4169930150657244593_n13528695_10154372774476189_5424355069539143754_n13501986_10154372771741189_1050367308332766036_n

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.