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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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Ntombikhona’s Story

IMG_0302Every month, Ntombikhona walks over six kilometres to attend CAST’s Ministry Day in KwaDabeka and collect her CAST food parcel.

She first heard about CAST when she was trying to enroll her daughter at Sithokozile High School in KwaDabeka.  At the time, she had three other children in school and could not afford to pay her daughter’s school fees. Through CAST’s social worker, Ntombikhona was able to receive a school fee exemption for her daughter.                                              

CAST also sponsored her daughter’s school uniform and shoes.  As a result, her daughter was able to finish Matric.  Ntombikhona’s dream is for her children to pursue their education and for them to have a relationship with God.

Ntombikhona is also an avid netball player and volunteered to help Sibongile (a fellow food parcel recipient) coach the CAST’s girls’ netball team in KwaDabeka after doing the Poverty Stoplight Survey.

For R200 ($15), you can sponsor a food parcel to a local family in need.  CAST’s Relief Services are intended as a first step towards empowering these households and it is our aim to only have them on the food parcel programme for one year.  This is made possible by offering a holistic solution within CAST where families can be supported by the local church through other CAST development programmes.

For more information about how to donate and get involved, please contact Sandy Reid at:  031 266 8830 or sandy@cast.org.za

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Desmond & Asina

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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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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