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Manicures & Mentoring: Celebrating Women’s Month at CAST

Manicures & Mentoring: Celebrating Women’s Month at CAST

By Rolan Gulston & Laura Mbugua-Mwaura

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During Women’s Month, CAST partnered with two community churches, West City Fellowship & Cornerstone Community Church, to celebrate the beauty, strength and resilience of women.

In celebration of Women’s month, the ladies of West City Fellowship (WCF) hosted a Women’s Day Pampering Event for CAST’s food parcel recipients in Chesterville.  Recently, CAST had the chance to hear back from Vani Perumal, Vishani Pillay and the other WCF volunteers about their experience:

Q: What inspired WCF to organise the Women’s Day Event?

A: Sandy Reid [CAST Relief Services HOD] suggested it and WCF members were only too willing to oblige.  It was a pleasure to serve the humble women of Chesterville.

Q: How did the ladies respond to being pampered?

A: The highlight for them that morning was being pampered with back massages and manicures. Some of the women were in tears having said, “Never in my life has anyone ever done this for me, no one has ever massaged my hand before.” These were women in their 60s.  From the sharing of God’s Word, the dynamic time we had in praise and worship, to being served tea with delicious cakes and savouries, the women of Chesterville were in their absolute element.

Q: What did the WCF volunteers enjoy most or learn from serving the ladies?  

A: It was a humbling and enjoyable morning.  The ladies absolutely loved the pampering and the food that was provided and we all had a great time.

 

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Earlier in the month, CAST also partnered with Cornerstone Community Church (CCC) to host a Mother & Daughter Mentoring Conference in Phoenix.  140 women attended the conference to learn more about developing and restoring relationships with other women, as well as developing strong decision-making skills and conflict resolution with their families.

Sharm Moses of CCC explained, “There seems to be a decline in mother and daughter relationships in our community [Phoenix]. Daughters need guidance in their decision-making and mothers need mentoring on developing their parenting skills. Foundation is paramount for us to build a thriving community.”

CAST is thankful for these opportunities to partner with local churches to celebrate and empower women in our communities, not just for Women’s Month, but for each day where women are faced with challenges that continue to hinder the realization of gender equality.

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Holiday Fun

Holiday Fun

“Crowned: Created to be Different”

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Over the past two weeks CAST has partnered with Westville Baptist and four other churches to host annual holiday clubs in Addington, KwaDabeka, Phoenix and Appelsbosch. This year’s theme was Crowned! Children learned that our Heavenly Father is King over everything, and since we are His children, that makes us royalty.

Children also looked at various kings and queens of the Bible, learning to live like royalty who depend on God means that His kingdom will belong to us!

Thanks to your support, CAST and our partner churches:

  • Provided a safe place for over 780 children during the holidays, who heard the Gospel and received individual attention from caring volunteers.
  • Introduced 104 children to Jesus for the first time.
  • Hosted a parent evening for parents & guardians at Addington Primary School.

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A Second Chance

In 2014, CAST’s Noodsberg Community Co-ordinator, Bongani Mkhize, heard about a boy on CAST’s soccer team who was not attending school.  When Bongani visited him to find out what was going on, the boy, Siyanda ‘Zakwe’, explained that his family was unable to afford a school uniform.  Zakwe lived with his father, grandmother and other family members, none of whom were working.

Moved by his story, Bongani filled a CAST donation form and was able to access the R500.00 needed for the uniform.  Thanks to the assistance from CAST, Zakwe went back to school, and in 2016 he finished Grade 12.

This year Zakwe came back to Bongani’s office to thank him.

Zakwe said it was CAST that helped him to change his mind, as he was about to give up school and look for a job because of the lack of support at home.

However providing something as simple as a school uniform kept Zakwe in school and gave him a second chance at his education.

At CAST, we believe in empowering youth to become resilient, value education, achieve their dreams and become leaders in their community.  CAST accomplishes this through providing various youth development programmes, with the support of sport coaches, mentors and CAST staff.  We are invested in transforming lives through holistic programmes that actually empower youth to overcome their circumstances.

You too can make a difference in the life of a young person by getting involved with CAST’s Youth Development Department.  Contact George Mwaura at george@cast.org.za to find out more about how you can join the movement.

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Mariannridge Pastors Dialogue

dsc_0283dsc_0303Recently Rev. Wayne Thring of Joy Chapel Ministries in Mariannridge hosted a Pastors Dialogue Event in partnership with CAST, Mariann Co-ordinating Committee (MCC) and the Ministers’ Fraternal.  CAST had the chance to ask Rev. Thring a few questions about local church involvement in his community:

Q:  Can you explain the purpose of the Pastors Dialogue and how the idea for it came about?

A:  Jenny Boyce from MCC visited the Ministers’ Fraternal, and expressed her concerns about the many challenges facing the community. She asked the question: “Who is leading?” The Pastors then agreed that we need a collaborated effort, meeting to help address the challenges. This effort would be led by the Fraternal, CAST, and MCC.

Q:  What churches and/or organisations were represented?

A:  Joy Chapel Ministries, Assemblies of God, Pinetown Christian Fellowship, Evangelical Bible Church, Hope Family, Christian Assemblies, Kingdom Life Ministries, Methodist Church, Catholic and Anglican Churches, African Christian Democratic Party, ANC, CAST, MCC, Community Police Forum, SAPS & Democracy Development Centre

Q:  What was the end result of the dialogue?

A:  It was realised that most organisations were working in silos, doing good work. What was needed was relationship building to break down walls that exist. A commitment to work together for the benefit of the community was established. The next meeting would flesh out how this could be achieved.

Q:  What are the current challenges that your church and community are facing?

A:  Over 50% unemployment, crime, much of which is related to drug abuse. Overcrowding in the flatted area, lack of housing and poor education levels.

Q:  What do you believe is the biggest strength of Joy Chapel?

A:  Unity among the leadership.

Q:  How can we best pray for Joy Chapel, and especially for you and the church leadership?

A:  Pray that we would be able to extend our reach, into our community and beyond.  Pray for the needed resources locally and for our church plant in KwaXimba.  Pray for our leadership. Some are moving to Johannesburg for work and family reasons.  Pray for wisdom, strength and skill sets to accomplish our goals.

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My Story

 

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Three years ago, I came to South Africa with little more than a brand new Bachelor’s Degree and a heart to serve the Lord.  A year before I had been praying to see what God wanted me to do with my life.  I had a vivid dream of working at a community centre based out of a church, where people could come and receive care.  It wasn’t until I came for a visit to South Africa in 2013 that I realized CAST was the community-based organisation God had placed in my dream, where He wanted me wanted me to serve.

During my initial three month visit, I volunteered with CAST’s Homework Club at Addington Primary School and loved every minute of helping the children.  However, the biggest thing that won me over about CAST was the organisational vision.  First of all, CAST is all about working through the local church to impact the Kingdom of God.  Instead of focusing on mere once-off “feel-good” relief work, CAST desires to mobilise the local church to provide long-term, sustainable development programmes to transform entire communities.

Another one of my favourite things about volunteering with CAST was the staff team.  I came to South Africa only knowing one person, and found a true community of like-minded people at CAST.  Before I came, I knew only a little about apartheid and the segregation that existed before freedom in South Africa.  I was amazed to see a diverse team of people from literally every walk of life, working together with one common mission.  The staff members and fellow volunteers welcomed me in, introducing me to the South African way of life and community development.  I was amazed by how the staff and volunteers sacrificed of their time and resources to accomplish something far bigger than themselves.

The CAST vision and staff team was largely why I decided to stay on volunteering long-term, and gave up dreams of pursing a master’s degree in the States.  It was an incredibly hard decision to leave family, friends and the opportunity to live the ‘American dream’, but I knew it was what the Lord was calling me to do.

Now three years later, I can say that volunteering at CAST has been completely worth it.   However, community work in South Africa is messy, difficult, time-consuming and often heart-breaking.  When you are dealing with the impacts of generational poverty, it can seem like the walls of spiritual darkness are too high to climb over.  But we serve a good, good God who is big enough to break down these walls of racism, addiction, witchcraft, fatherlessness and divided families.

The staff, volunteers and clients at CAST are what have made my experience in South Africa so valuable.  They are the people who have encouraged me to persevere when the cultural divide seemed too wide, or when I felt too homesick.  This is a team of people who care deeply about what God is doing through the local church in South Africa, no matter the cost.

1929937_943972102358167_3732381770153053908_n.jpgI have been with our organisation when God has blessed us abundantly, and when there is little.  2016 has been a year where we have had to boldly trust God for provision.  Some programmes have been downsized, but as we have gone back to the “bare-bones” of our organisation, we have been challenged to come back to the heart of CAST, the local church.  This is the hope of South Africa, and the world.

Most people I know are looking for a way to give meaningfully this Christmas season, and I want to challenge you to consider giving differently this year.  Within the NGO sphere, most people want to give directly towards programmes, which is the most obvious way to make a difference.  However, without committed staff members who are willing to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate CAST’s programmes, there will be no sustainability or long-term impact.  I have the privilege of writing stories about clients who are involved with our programmes, and when I ask them about how CAST has made a difference in their lives, they don’t mention food parcels, sports, or business forum, but instead individual staff members who made the time to hear their story, get to know them and see how they could help.

Relationships are the currency to community development.  And without dedicated staff, there would be no long-term trusting relationships with clients, volunteers or partner churches.  Please consider giving towards a staff team who have worked incredibly hard this year, and want to continue the work we have started for 2017.

You can give online (even outside of South Africa) through Givengain at this link: https://www.givengain.com/cause/4933/campaigns/17462/

Laura Mbugua-Mwaura

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Partnering to Serve

During the past week the CAST hosted a team of medical professionals from International Medical Relief (IMR) to provide free medical serves to eight local communities.  Thanks to CAST and IMR, community members in Cato Manor, Mariannridge, Lamontville, Durban Central, Phoenix, and three rural communities near Wartburg were able to see doctors and nurses for a free medical clinic, classes to learn about good health, and medicine.  The clinics were hosted at CAST’s community centres and partner churches, and between 100-200 patients were treated each day.  The goal of IMR is to treat underserved patients with dramatic and often life saving results by providing medical services, medicines, supplies, training and education to communities throughout the world.  IMR is one of CAST’s partner organisations that help to serve local communities across Durban.

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Learning about Homelessness

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This past week CAST had the amazing opportunity to host Steve Walkup from the Denver Rescue Mission (DRM), a Christian NGO serving the homeless in Denver, Colorado for over 100 years.  Steve is DRM’s head of Programmes, and visited CAST to train community churches in the Manna of Life Programme, which is focused around sharing the Gospel of John.  Over 100 community church members attended at both Paran Church (a refugee church in Durban central) and Appelsbosch Baptist Church.

On Monday, the Denis Hurley Centre hosted a Homelessness Forum in partnership with CAST as a learning and networking opportunity for those interested.  Steve Walkup shared how DRM is tackling the issue of homelessness in Denver, and the approach to their programmes.  The Human Science Research Council (HSRC) also shared their initial findings from a recent survey about homelessness in Durban.  Local NGOs, faith-based groups, government and corporate representatives joined this forum to create a more integrated response to homelessness in the city.