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Remembering Ernie

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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.

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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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Making a Difference through ABCs

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Back when Rolan first started volunteering with CAST’s Wordworks Literacy Programme at Addington Primary School, one of her learners didn’t know their alphabet.  In fact, the child didn’t even really speak to Rolan at all.

However, thanks to the structured, easy to use, one on one tutoring format of Wordworks, Rolan has been able to transform this learner’s life, not only with literacy skills, but also through a warm and caring relationship.  It took some time, but now this Grade 1 learner opens up with Rolan, sharing stories and even writing full sentences.

Rolan heard about the Literacy Programme through one of CAST’s interns.  She wasn’t working and wanted to make the best use of her time, so Rolan jumped into volunteering.  Although she is not a teacher, Rolan still found it easy to get involved because of the Wordworks training and simple lesson structure.  In the beginning, she just observed for a few weeks to see how to help the kids and how to deal with behavioural issues if necessary.

Now Rolan is a seasoned Literacy Programme volunteer.  As she explains, “I feel so much more at ease with the kids and feel so much more confident.  You learn as you go.  The kids take awhile to trust volunteers.  It’s about building a relationship instead of just being another authority figure.  You’re growing with the child, both in your ability to teach and their ability to learn.  It’s a journey.”

Rolan believes that CAST’s Literacy Programme has the potential to positively change a learner’s whole attitude about school.  The Literacy Programme is part of CAST’s Educational Support Department, which aims to rescue the academic potential of learners through training and support programmes which will help them grasp key concepts, and reduce obstacles to future success.  Addington Primary School is located in Durban central, and has a large population of learners from refugee families.  Because of the language barrier and large class sizes, Wordworks is key for learners to grow in their foundational literacy skills, as well as providing a safe place for the children to express themselves.

If you would like to become a literacy volunteer like Rolan and make a difference in the life of a child, please contact Joseph Bode at joe@cast.org.za for more information about volunteer training.

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Leading By Example

 

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This month as we celebrate the role of women in our lives, as wives, mothers, aunts, sisters, and daughters, let us not forget the role all women can play as mentors in the lives of young girls around us.

Back when CAST first started working in KwaDabeka, one such relationship made a huge impact in the life of a young girl.

Thandeka was a teenager in KwaDabeka, surrounded by few positive female role models she could look up to.  More often than not, women warned her to avoid making the same mistakes they had made as young girls – a negative message of “don’t do this”.

However, one of CAST’s social workers at the time reached out to Thandeka.  The social worker took the time to build a trusting and caring mentoring relationship with her.

As Thandeka explains, “Most of who I am is because of the work she [her mentor] did with CAST.”

Now as a leader in her community, Thandeka takes the time to mentor young girls in KwaDabeka.  She believes in the power of leading by example.

Recently she attended CAST’s first ever girls’ camp, and was excited to see girls exposed to other opportunities.  She believes that when girls have something that occupies their time, gives them purpose and keeps them accountable, such as CAST’s Youth Development Programme, then real change happens.  It is only through these long-term caring relationships that girls can overcome obstacles such as peer pressure.

This month as we take time to celebrate women, let’s lead by example.  You too can make an impact in the life of a young person.  If you would like to mentor an individual in one of the communities where CAST works, please contact Dale Nunes at: dale@cast.org.za

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Kingdom Daughters

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Appelsbosch Baptist Church is a long-time partner of CAST, and is located in the Ilembe district, neighbouring the other partner CAST communities of Noodsberg and Chibini.  High rates of teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and lack of activities and work opportunities keep the youth in this community from realising their potential.

Through inspiration from CAST, Mrs. Sindi Dube (Appelsbosch Baptist Church pastor’s wife) launched the Separated Kingdom Daughters (SKD) initiative which raises awareness to young girls about teenage pregnancy, whoonga abuse, fatherlessness, etc.

The goal of the SKD initiative is to deepen the thinking of young women with regard to their infinite roles in society, enhance their self-esteem, inspire and motivate them to reach their full potential through teaching and counselling with the Word of God.

A young person from Appelsbosch was granted a bursary from SKD towards studying Maritime Engineering at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).  Those in the initiative also donated uniforms, school shoes and stationary to many learners within the community.

This initiative work is focused on seeing poverty eradicated and education prioritized.

CAST is passionate about empowering and mobilising local churches like Appelsbosch Baptist Church to make a difference in the community, especially among the vulnerable.  If you would like to know more about how CAST partners with local churches, check out our website at: cast.org.za

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Township Tours

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Have you ever been curious to see what life is like in a township?  Then don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to go on a CAST Township Tour!  We look forward to hosting you on a tour where you can see some of the communities in which we minister.

This tour aims to give participants a rich understanding of the history, culture and people of these communities and how they are tied to the surrounding suburbs and city. We focus on the role of churches, missions, schools and businesses, past and present, while also experiencing the culture and meeting interesting people.

There are two tour options:

DSC_0438Durban Central, Addington, Chesterville & Cato Manor (Tuesday 9am-4:30pm)

Experience the best of cultural diversity in “Durbs” by checking out the famous Warwick Indian Market, while also learning more about the historical roots of the Apartheid Struggle through Cato Manor’s local museum, as well as current development work and the ministry of CAST in the ever-evolving township of Chesterville.

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Clermont, KwaDabeka & Mariannridge (Wednesday 9am-4:30pm)

If you’ve ever wondered what everyday life is like in a township, this is the tour for you!  Come join our CAST team for home visits to meet local families in Clermont & KwaDabeka, as well as visiting local schools to meet the youth.  In Mariannridge, take a walk through this small community to meet locals and hear more about the issues facing this township.  Learn more about CAST’s programmes and partnerships in these communities.

Cost: R180 per person (includes lunch & refreshments)

CAST’s Township Tours will be run regularly on Tuesdays/Wednesdays, based on need (min: 8 people, max: 14 people).  Pick up and drop off is at Westville Baptist Church, and all transportation is provided via the CAST Bus.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience our neighbouring communities!

To book or for more information, please contact Dale Nunes at: dale@cast.org.za or 031 267 1716

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Fools for Christ

Every morning at CAST’s Head Office, the staff gather around to encourage each other with a short devotion.  The office busyness slows to a quiet at 8am, and everyone takes a few minutes to start our day with Christ as the focus.

Today was no different.  However, when Stuart Talbot leads devotions, it is never boring!  We were told to dress up for April Fools, so with our funny outfits, we took some time to reflect on the following Feast of Fools material from Jim Cotter’s book “Love Re-membered: Resources for a House Eucharist”.

Approach (shortened)

God of Joy, we rejoice in you.

You run to meet us like a welcoming friend,

you laugh with us in the merriment of heaven,

you feast with us at the great banquet,

Clown of clowns, Fool of fools, the only Entertainer of jesters.

God of Joy, we rejoice in you.

Reading

1 Corinthians 1:27 (NLT)

God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.  And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.

Dedication

Let us be fools for Christ’s sake:

In facing the truth, may we be set free from illusion.

In accepting our wounds, may we be healed.

In embracing the outcast, may we be redeemed.

In discovering our child, may we grow to maturity.

In seeking true innocence, may we no longer harm.

In yielding to dying, may abundant life flow into us.

In vulnerable risk, may we know love’s pain and joy.

In the release of laughter, may we hear the chuckle of God.

In the folly of the Cross, may we see the Wisdom of God.

Shared from Jim Cotter’s book “Love Re-membered: Resources for a House Eucharist”

Most of the time we just think of April Fools as a fun day of pranking our friends, co-workers and family members.  But the Feast of Fools has a much deeper message: “Be a fool, for Christ’s sake.” As CAST seeks after the Kingdom of God, we pray that we won’t be afraid to do what appears to be foolish for the sake of Christ.  Jesus himself was never inside the box, and he calls us to do the same.  By living outside the box, we free ourselves to truly love our neighbours and fulfill the call of Christ in our lives.

In the words of Brian Wren’s hymn,

Christ, in our darkness risen,

help all who long for light

to hold the hand of promise

till faith receives it sight.

How can you be a fool for Christ?

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