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Living Testimony: Siya’s Story

During the month of December 2019, CAST was blessed with a total of 33 interns sponsored by ABSA Bank Ltd. in partnership with Catalyx Consulting as a host organization. Our duty was to implement the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme initiated by President Cyril Ramaphosa. This year-long internship aims to assist unemployed South Africans aged 18 – 28 years old in gaining full-time employment in their chosen fields.

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Below is the testimony of one of our interns, Siyabonga, sharing his journey of transformation since joining CAST last year.

“My name is Siyabonga Makatshu. I was born on the 26th of February 2001 at KwaDabeka Clinic, but my family’s roots are at Eastern Cape. I grew up in Clermont, KwaDabeka. I started schooling at Mcopheleli Primary School, then went to Sithokozile Secondary and that is where I matriculated.

My journey with CAST started in late 2019 when I had no clear direction about my life, and I didn’t have any interest to further my studies. I was in a bondage by that time.

I remember in February, my friend asked me to accompany her to get her mother a food parcel at CAST KwaDabeka Community Centre. We went, and when we got there, the Co-ordinator of CAST KDB, Bab Peace Msimango told us that he needed volunteers to help the community and we agreed to come help. The day came when we met the second time with the intention of just “coming to help the community” but Bab Msimango told us that we need to do training before we start the ministry that God called us to fellowship on. We attended the training, and when we were all together as a team, we worshipped and shared the word of God. That grew us spiritually. I was never a perfect creature, I was smoking, drinking, stealing, swearing and did other horrible things, but God changed my life

I remember our co-ordinator asked us what our goals were, and I said that I would like to know God better than I know Him. My spiritual father, Bab Msimango, is the one who supported me all the way up until today. He was there for me throughout. I then started attending church every Sunday at KwaDabeka Baptist. I was still, however, not able to support my family. My co-ordinator visited me at home to see where I come from. He then saw the need to give me a food parcel to support my family, because I was a committed volunteer and participating in the community. I am happy to say I was the first volunteer at CAST to be visited at the township and that’s history. I was picked to go to the boys2MEN Camp and CAST’s 10th Anniversary Celebration. Our co-ordinator told us that after 6 months to 1 year, we will get a reference from CAST, because there are not many job opportunities in South Africa and that it will then help us in our future working lives.

In December, I and the other volunteers went to the volunteer thank-you party to receive certificates for tutoring in the Wordworks Literacy programme. I have learned a lot of things at the CAST organization. 2019 was one of the best years of my life and I have a testimony. I call myself a ‘living testimony’. Now, I have a clear direction in life unlike before.

I remember every Tuesday, we prayed for job opportunities and luckily my friends got an opportunity to work at the Airport and my nephew got a job at Pavilion Shopping Centre and there were four of us and I was left alone. I wondered, why me? But Jeremiah 29: 11 says, “I have plans for you, said the Lord, the plan to prosper you and not to harm you to give a time and hope.”

I learnt to be patient because patience is not an ability to wait but, to keep a good attitude while waiting. In December 2019, I went to an interview for the YES Internship programme at CAST and thank God I got the job. I am so happy to have gotten the opportunity to work because I am learning a lot. I met my new colleagues and am learning so much from them. I have improved my English and communication skills. I have learnt not to impress others, but be impactful towards them. The Catalyx training on work-readiness was and is effective in my life and I have also learned a lot from CAST.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Siyabonga played a key role in supplying food-insecure families with emergency relief during the national lockdown. Watch him in action on the CAST YouTube channel.

Siya’s dream is to study either Health and Safety Management or Trade and Marketing Management and follow his calling to become a Pastor. If you would like to support the development of young leaders in our communities like Siya, contact us at info@cast.org.za for more information about other CAST initiatives.

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CAST Annual General Meeting 2020

Thank you to all those who were able to join us for our first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting – it was a great time of reflection on 2019 – hearing what God has done in the communities where we work, and connecting to the greater CAST community that has played a significant role in making this Ministry possible.

Our latest Annual Report for 2019 is available for viewing and download via the following link:

CAST Annual Report 2019

And you can watch the evening’s proceedings on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CASTngo/videos/189878529077333/

For more information on how you can get involved in any of our programmes, contact us at:

E-mail: info@cast.org.za

Tel: +27(0)31 266 8830

Website: cast.org.za

#movebeyondcharity #jointhemovement

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#IAm a Child of God: Naledi’s story

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One of the main aims of the CAST Ministry is to help those in our communities grow, develop and be a guiding light for others. One of these people is 15-year-old Naledi Dladla who shares her testimony about how her life has been transformed since joining CAST:

My Name is Naledi Nthabiseng Dladla, I am 15 Years old and I am a Christian, a child of GOD. I live in the rural Appelsbosch Mission Area with my granny, aunts, brothers, and sisters – one big family. I participate at CAST as a volunteer for the Children’s Holiday club, Sunday school, and I interpret for the American Missions Teams. Before I joined CAST, my life was a mess. I could not understand it.

When I was young, I had a lot of anger about my Mom. She passed away when I was very young, so I don’t know her. I was told by my dad and grandmother that she got sick and then she passed on. That hurt me a lot, because I could hear my friends and other children talk about their moms, and me knowing very well that I can’t talk about my mom because she no longer exists on earth.

So I heard about CAST from my Sunday School teacher, Uncle Fortune (former CAST Community Co-ordinator at Appelsbosch Baptist Community Church), who also worked at CAST. He is the one who got me to be close with people who work at CAST. One of my favourites is Thandi. I started in 2017 by going to Camp with other girls whereby we can share our stories, views and ideas.

I got involved at CAST because I have seen them help a lot in my community. I am a person who has a big heart, who loves to help, and who want the best for the community. CAST has made big change in people’s lives my community, especially for girls…if I didn’t attend Girls Camp, now I could be a person who drinks alcohol and abuses substances (drugs). CAST has made a big difference in my life.

I have an older brother from my mother’s side who was abusing very strong substances. He would come home drunk and high by weed. One day, I decided to take my life by drinking alcohol and smoking weed, but in my ears there was this voice that was saying, ‘’no Naledi, don’t ever do that. What are you trying to do? GOD has big plans for you. You’ve got a lot of things to do to make your family proud.’’

Then I told myself that I should speak about this, I can’t just keep quiet and watch this boy hitting me and insulting me with all kinds of words. I went to uncle Fortune and asked him about these Camps…. I asked him how much money I could pay then he told me. He was telling us that Camp is where girls gathered and talk about everything.

I asked them at home and they agreed. When I got there, I met Thandi, a most wonderful humble woman. She was the person I knew to talk about everything to because she was the one who understood my feelings and she still does. I told her everything that happened to me, that I was almost raped. I couldn’t tell my family because I was scared.

Thandi prayed for me, and told me that it is not over until GOD says so… she told me that I could pray to GOD and tell him everything that I am facing or that I’ll be facing. We prayed together and after that I realised that GOD can be with us all the time.

That’s how CAST has made a difference in my life. What I learned from CAST is that it is important to be patient, brave and ask for help from people who can help you, and to give back to those who could need your help, because that’s what GOD created us for, that we help each other as His children.

I would like to get more involved at CAST, and become a partner, because it is so amazing to be part of people who are the same as you, who know what’s wrong and right, people who don’t count how much they’ve helped that particular community. So I would like to be a member, be there most of the time and learn more about being a helper.

Like in my church where I attend at Appelsbosch Baptist Community Church, my Pastor always preaches to us to help the poor and people who need help, even it’s not the poor but people who could need help like at my school. I am the one who knows English in my class, so most of the time I could help them with essays and their writing. I know that I am not a clever person, but then I always tell myself that I am not stupid. That’s what Pastor Dube always tells us to tell ourselves.

CAST has impacted my spiritual journey by encouraging us to trust GOD very much because we live by Him. At Holiday Clubs, they teach us more about Jesus and GOD, memory verses and other verses that tell us more about GOD. That’s how CAST has impacted my spiritual journey.

My dream for the future is to become a lawyer. That wasn’t my dream when I was growing up. I wanted to be a doctor, but as time has passed, I saw that lawyers are people who are liars, not honest in the cases they work on. I have always told myself I will only deal with innocent people and that will depend on their cases.

For me to reach that dream, I have to work hard at school, go to varsity and graduate just like my dad and my older sister who is a doctor. I just wish to ask if you guys pray for me to seek GOD to show me the way forward, and for him to protect me in every way I go. Thank you.

By Naledi Dladla

Be part of the BIG picture and change a girl’s life this Christmas!

This year, CAST is excited to shine a light on our youth development programmes for young women aged between 12 – 18 years old. With your help, we will be raising funds to help our partner churches form communities where girls can thrive, build their resilience and combat gender-based violence.

A donation of R150 per girl will fund their participation in our girls’ conferences, sport, and discipleship programmes for 2020.

Each donor will receive a beautiful #IAm Christmas decoration and card decorated by the girls in our programmes, as well as your piece of the puzzle to make up a picture symbolising our theme, Ubuhle Bembokodo – “the strength and beauty of a woman”

For more information, contact Thandi: thandi@cast.org.za or call (031) 2668830.

#movebeyondcharity #jointhemovement #bepartofthebigpicture #UbuhleBembokodo #girlsempowerment #youthdevelopment

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Be Part of the BIG picture – Change a Girls’ Life this Christmas

This year, CAST is excited to shine a light on our youth development programmes for young women aged between 12 – 18 years old. With your help, we will be raising funds to help our partner churches form communities where girls can thrive, build their resilience and combat gender-based violence.

A donation of R150 per girl will fund their participation in our girls’ conferences, sport, and discipleship programmes for 2020.

Each donor will receive a beautiful #IAm Christmas decoration and card decorated by the girls in our programmes, as well as your piece of the puzzle to make up a picture symbolising Ubuhle Bembokodo – “the strength and beauty of a woman”

For more information, contact Thandi: thandi@cast.org.za or call (031) 2668830.

#movebeyondcharity #jointhemovement #bepartofthebigpicture #UbuhleBembokodo #girlsempowerment #youthdevelopment

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Building Resilience in our Youth: Azriel’s Story

At CAST, we believe that resilience is key to being able to deal with life’s challenges and bounce back from setbacks. In addition to our sport and discipleship programmes, we are excited to be running the Smart Moves Resilience programme as part of the national Life Orientation curriculum that will reach over 400 youth in our communities this year – many of whom have already shown great improvement in their level of engagement and participation at school.

The programme was piloted in 2018 at two schools in Phoenix, one of CAST’s target communities in KZN, with 115 learners in attendance. The Smart Moves curriculum is adopted from the resilience framework formulated by a UK-based resilience research group, BoingBoing, in the UK, with the aim of guiding children in the pre-teen age group to make “smart moves” as they navigate their way through adolescence and into adulthood. After regular sessions over a period of a few months, many of the learners reported enjoying the programme and teachers at the schools began to see significant improvement in the children’s conduct and willingness to learn.

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12-year-old Azriel Joseph from Mariannridge Primary School is one of 188 Grade Six learners who participate in CAST’s Resilience programme each week.

Azriel shares that he used to be shy, and was often bullied at school, afraid to speak up. Participating in the programme has helped him to overcome this and taught him valuable life lessons – how to be responsible, safe, and look out for others if they’re in trouble. “I used to hang out with the wrong crowds,” he says, “but now I’m deciding who to play with. It’s been a turning point.”

Like many children in his community, Azriel is being raised by a single mother since his parents’ separation 3 years ago. He feels a strong need for a relationship with his father, who has remarried, and often seeks support from uncles or through learning about his late grandfather, a former musician and Pastor. With an avid interest in music and Pastoral work himself, Azriel greatly looks up to his “Pa” as a role model, but sadly did not have the time to form a relationship with him as he was only four-years-old when he passed away.

The interactive lesson structure of the Resilience programme has given Azriel the confidence to “be real”, open up emotionally and share his thoughts with others, and has especially improved his communication with his mother. When he is going through a difficult time, Azriel now turns to his mother, a children’s day-care worker, a.k.a his “warrior”, for immediate support. Every morning before school, she helps him with his Mathematics homework, a subject he often struggles with. “That’s my enemy that I’m trying to conquer. My mum encourages me and tells me I’m going to pass.”

Azriel has also learnt the importance of having a relationship with God. He regularly attends church and is keenly involved as the drummer of the worship band. “Mum has been telling me that there’s only one way. There may be tough times, but God can help. I used to be sad and think there’s no hope. There is. Don’t give up. There’s a glimpse of hope. God can help me,” he says.

Azriel looks forward to starting high school in the next 2 years and wants to use what he has learnt to make good decisions for the future.

“Being in the programme has helped me to speak up and understand better who I am.”

If you are keen to make a difference in the lives of the youth in our communities, like Azriel, CAST is hosting the 10th Annual Boys Camp to provide boys without fathers an opportunity to learn about Manhood and Fatherhood as God intended. Sponsoring a boy will cost R400 p.p. For more info contact George Mwaura: george@cast.org.za or call (+27) 31 2668830.

CAST Banking Details:

Account name: CAST Trust

Bank: FNB

Branch code: 250655

Account no: 62762010248

REF: “BoysCamp”

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A Light on the Path: Lynette Pather’s story

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Lynette Pather is an experienced youth leader in the community of Phoenix in Durban, South Africa and has dedicated herself to helping the children and youth in her area through CAST’s Reading Intervention Programme for Grade 3s, and Life Skills Resilience Programme for Grade 7s.

She first joined CAST as a volunteer in 2017 when a pastor from Cornerstone Community Church went door-to-door around the neighbourhood to speak to youth and Sunday School teachers about the programmes that CAST was planning to implement in partnership with the Church.

Lynette then attended the training to become a facilitator for the programmes which she now volunteers for 3 times a week and is always willing to assist CAST when needed.

The reading intervention programme is aimed at helping children who did not receive adequate assistance at foundation phase to improve their skills in reading and comprehension at the appropriate level. Lynette assists a group of 10 learners and describes this as a trouble-free class.

The Resilience classes, however, pose more of a challenge for the facilitators. Lynette describes the Grade 7 learners, aged 12 – 13, as going through a transition phase into their teenage years, and find themselves unsure of how to deal with uncomfortable feelings and emotions when certain topics are raised. Some even become defensive and disruptive or begin making jokes to detract from serious subjects.

With an average of 40 children per class, it is not easy to manage. The facilitators, fortunately, have the support of the school but avoid disciplining the children, and instead, try to adopt a “love of Christ” approach towards unruly learners. Lynette believes the root of this behaviour is due to the prevalence of single-parent households or those with absent parents in the community and has seen how children as young as those she teaches are forced to take on the responsibility of parenting their younger siblings. Many of these single-parent households do not receive support due to the shame and stigma of being a ‘broken’ family. “We have to give honour to [single parents] instead of looking down on them,” she says.

Since the programme was implemented, Lynette has noticed a positive difference in the behaviour of learners that participated last year who now push themselves to attain good school marks in order to qualify for university. “They are more self-motivated, centred, and know that only they can make the decision to get out of the cycle of poverty,” she says.

Although the programme does not allow for the facilitators to share Christian teachings, as the learners of the school are religiously-diverse, they still offer encouragement and support to equip the learners with information to pursue further studies at tertiary level. Her dream for the children in the community is for them to “see the bigger picture.”

Lynette, herself, comes from a strong Christian family who founded and pastor Fountain of Hope Christian Centre in Phoenix. As a qualified Christian Counsellor with a diploma from the Logos Bible School, her many years of experience in youth ministry has grown her passion for serving the younger generation. Her advice to other leaders of young people is to “never give up until that person can see what God has for them, especially if you see a child with potential. Take that child’s dream, put it into your spirit, pray, and make it a reality.”

“I want to help the youth see the world differently,” she says. “There are so many opportunities. The world is for you.”

If you are keen to support these programmes or commit to tutoring and mentoring young people in our communities, contact CAST at info@cast.org.za or call (+27)31 266 8830.

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Hope for the Future: Judith’s Story

By Rolan Gulston

cast-judith-volunteer-hope-mariannridge01Since joining CAST as a programme participant two years ago, 31-year-old Judith Abrams has made a valuable impact in giving back to her community as a volunteer for CAST’s Child Literacy and Youth Development programmes.

Judith came to know CAST through a friend who worked at the Mariannridge CAST Community Centre assisting in the facilitation of programmes. She then signed up to participate in the Business Experience and Business Growth courses to learn how she could improve her own small business of selling cooked food from home, which she has been running for the past 2 years.

After successfully completing the course and graduating in 2018, Judith felt a renewed passion to expand her business, which she co-runs with her sister. Firstly, by registering her enterprise, “Judith’s Fast Food”, and then applying to the Local Councillor for permission to operate at the community taxi rank, the busiest spot in the area. Her long-term goal is to invest her profits into starting a franchise.

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Since learning these new skills, Judith feels a greater sense of self-belief and hope for the future. She looks forward to joining CAST’s sewing team in Mariannridge and would like to learn how to make evening attire, as there is a big market for Matric dance outfits in her community. Judith also dreams of pursuing a career in nursing, particularly in paediatrics, as she feels called to work with children.

This love of children drew her to volunteering with CAST as a tutor for the Word Works Early Literacy programme for Grade One’s, as well as facilitating the Resilience Life Orientation programme for the Grade Six learners at Mariannridge Primary School, a stone’s throw away from the CAST Community Centre.

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Learning how to teach Foundational Literacy using the Word Works material has helped Judith beyond the classroom in assisting her son who experiences learning difficulties due to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She has developed a greater understanding of his cognitive-developmental level and has learnt how to be more patient with him.

The Resilience programme forms part of the national Life Orientation school curriculum, guiding children in the pre-teen age group to make ‘smart moves’ and work towards achieving their goals. Mentoring the children in this programme has created the space for Judith to form strong, supportive relationships with the youth in her community.

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The programme has helped Judith to “become one with the children in the community. They open up more,” she says. Having a 12-year-old daughter herself, Judith enjoys mentoring this age group as they move into their teen years and need more guidance through the many changes in their development, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Two children that Judith has worked with, in particular, have made great strides in improving their behaviour. One, a young boy bullied about his weight, who, in turn, started bullying others, has since stopped picking fights at school. Another, a young girl who turned to alcohol to cope with personal difficulties, invited Judith to join her family Sunday lunch and has been encouraged by Judith to make better choices.

Growing up in challenging circumstances, Judith knows first-hand the undue strain that these children experience when they are forced to grow up too quickly and take on adult responsibilities at home, often turning to harmful substances to alleviate the pressure. Her family did not have a steady income, and she suffered through an abusive relationship with her aunt. Other than her sister whom she currently lives with, Judith has little family support – her mother having passed away when she was younger, and her father remarrying and moved away. The father of Judith’s two children died tragically in a motorcycle accident.

Becoming a mother gave Judith the strength to stand up for herself and move past the pain. She has since made peace with the aunt who raised her and continues to pray for her. Being part of a strong spiritual community at a church in Mariannridge also helps Judith to feel supported and make positive changes in her life.

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Judith believes that there is hope, too, for the youth in her community. The key, she says, is “to stand together, and show them that we care.” Spending time consistently engaging with children and youth in the programmes have shown to have a significant positive impact on their development. If you would like to get involved in mentoring or tutoring in one of CAST’s target communities, contact us at: info@cast.org.za or call (+27) 31 266 8830 for more information.

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boy2Man: Ayanda’s story

The CAST Annual Boys2Men Camp is one of the highlights of our year where we get to spend uninterrupted time with the young men in our communities and address the desperate need for guidance, advice, affirmation, and create a way for these boys to discover their identity. 

Below is the story of one of these boys whose life has been greatly impacted through this camp, as well as the ongoing support of mentors and volunteers:

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Twenty-two year old Ayanda from KwaDabeka has come a long way since joining CAST’s Sport & Youth Development programme six years ago. His quiet demeanor and lack of confidence told of his unhappiness at school, where the teachers seemingly lacked the capacity to give learners like Ayanda individual assistance.

This changed when he started receiving after-school tutoring in Mathematics and Physical Science facilitated by CAST, which enabled him to start passing Maths and Accounting after having failed his first term of Matric. This was a turning point in Ayanda’s life, which sparked his motivation to study further.

Ayanda was also a member of CAST’s basketball team, THE CLAN, based at KwaDabeka Baptist Church. He had the opportunity to attend the annual boys2Men Camp where he gained a strong sense of discipline and self-efficacy, so much so, that in his first year of studying at the University of Zululand, others often mistake him for a 3rd or 4th year student.

Ayanda received a bursary to study Logistics Management and, through the generous outreach of a Westville Baptist Church member, has been offered a placement to complete his in-service training this year. Once qualified, Ayanda would like to work in Durban or Richard’s Bay, and pursue his dream of running his own Logistics Company to create employment opportunities for others.

As an ‘old boy’ of the CAST Sport & Youth Development programme, Ayanda is also keen to give back to his community in tutoring and mentoring of younger boys involved in the programme. Although his path has not been easy, Ayanda continues to pray each day and embraces learning new skills and applying what he has been taught throughout his years with CAST.

To learn more about how you can get involved in mentoring our youth in the communities, contact George at: george@cast.org.za or (031)266 8830. If you would like to sponsor boys to attend camp at R350,00 each, banking details are as follows:

CAST Trust

First National Bank

Branch code: 250655

Acc no: 62762010248

Ref: “Boys Camp”

 

 

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Shooting for the Stars: Bryan’s Story

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On his way home from school one day, 14-year-old Samkelo Bryan Cele, learnt something that would change his life. Being tall in stature, a friend invited him to join the CAST Basketball team that trained at KwaDabeka Baptist church. Without any former knowledge of the sport, or the right kit, Bryan went to check it out.

At first, it was tough. The other boys had skills and experience that far outweighed young Bryan playing in a pair of construction boots. Growing up as the eldest son in a family of seven with a single parent, Bryan faced scrutiny for investing so much of his time into basketball, especially since soccer was the more popular sport in his community. With the added sorrow of his grandfather’s passing, he stopped playing for a year.

Despite not being a part of the team, CAST had become a “home away from home” for Bryan – a safe space away from the dangers of peer pressure where he learnt about brotherhood, and what it meant to have a personal relationship with God in daily life as the boys would pray before and after each training session.

He started playing again in grade 9, this time, with a strong determination to improve his skills. As part of CAST’s focus on youth development, our mentoring programme seeks to break the cycle of fatherlessness in the communities by connecting young people with role models. Our goal is not that mentors would solve all their mentees’ problems, but rather that mentors would empower their mentees to solve their own problems. From equipping Bryan with his very first pair of trainers to sponsoring a trip to attend a basketball camp in Serbia, Bryan was blessed to have the mentorship of Mike Cox, a member of Westville Baptist Church, who whole-heartedly invested in Bryan’s future.

As the years went by, Bryan steadily got better and better. His talent drew the attention of selectors at regional tournaments, and he was subsequently offered a scholarship to attend Durban High School. His vision broadened as he began to see the many doors that had opened for him to opportunities that someone from ‘the hood’ would not ordinarily have access to.  One such opportunity was being selected to attend the aforementioned basketball training camp in Serbia, as well as in the USA where Bryan was awarded the title of ‘Most Valuable Player’.

Bryan is now in his second year at The University of Oklahoma, USA where he was awarded a scholarship to play basketball and is academically pursuing a degree in Business Law. Once qualified, his dream is to use his entrepreneurial skills to build a support structure for those from a similar background with limited opportunities. “Basketball was my out,” he says.

“I know I’m not the only one who can do it. They need God, hope and motivation.”

Bryan is deeply grateful for the generosity of donors and the support of CAST mentors and coaches, through which, God has worked to transform Bryan’s life. His advice to those who aspire to achieve the same goal is simple: “Believe. Work. And pray.”

If you would like to help make this dream a reality for more youth in our communities, contact George on 031 266 8830 or email george@cast.org.za.

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Coach Bongani

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Coach Bongani (far right) with some of his team at Sithokozile High School in KwaDabeka

By Rolan Gulston

Originally from Harrismith, 25-year-old Bongani Tshabalala has made a home in the community of KwaDabeka, a township situated just east of Pinetown. Since joining CAST as a volunteer soccer coach last year, he now feels fully invested in the development of the youth in the community.

Growing up with an older brother and two younger siblings, Bongani sought to become independent from an early age. While he spent much of his time at the gym training for the game that he loves, he did not see playing soccer as being a long-term career. Instead, he focussed on education, and encourages his boys to do the same.

Bongani has been studying mechanics since October last year. He shares that, as a youngster, he was not always diligent in his studies and often influenced his friends to take up drinking, smoking and dating to fit in with his social circle. Even attending church was something he did only to please his mother. This changed when he turned 21, as he began to appreciate his faith and attend church regularly without being pushed. As he got older and strengthened his relationship with God, he realised that the only person he can compete with is himself. He now attends KwaDabeka Baptist Church, and plays an active role in the Youth Ministry.

He first heard about CAST through a friend last year after living with his brother in Joburg for a year and half. The community centre in KwaDabeka was looking for a soccer coach, and he immediately jumped on board, but what he found was a deep lack of motivation in the team.

Gradually, through implementing the uBabalo Whole-life Coaching Programme, the boys have developed a close bond, and have learnt the value of supporting each other, “Because when you are playing soccer, you’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing as a team.”

Under his coaching, the boys won their first 10 games, and are now placed in the Pinetown League. Bongani believes in pushing the boys beyond their perceived level of capability by organising for his teams to play matches against older age groups as a way of helping them to adapt and gain experience. “God is here and anything is possible,” he tells them.

The team is steadily growing in number as the word spreads. The Under-15 and Under-17 boys train together three days a week. As part of the uBabalo programme, the team spends time reflecting on scripture before each training session, and many of the boys have shown great spiritual growth.

“God is always there. He is always watching you. I know it’s not going to be easy, but if you work hard, it won’t go away. If it’s easy, it won’t last.”

Bongani tries to always be an encouraging voice for the team, “I have never disgraced them. I tell them they should believe in themselves and trust each other. When I’m sharing myself, I am healing too.” His supportive, yet disciplined approach to coaching and mentoring has endeared him to the boys, who often tell him, “You are part of the family, you are always open.”

This year was his first time attending the annual boys2Men Camp. As a leader at the camp and in his community, Bongani took this time to mentor the young boys in the group of 60 that were selected to attend the camp. It also gave the boys a chance to talk about the things affecting them. He helped them to recognize bad influences in their lives, whether it be the people in their social circles or even the music they listen to. After sharing his testimony, he also taught them about making wise choices, not giving in to peer pressure, and rather than trying to change their friends immediately, start by telling them about the camp and share Bible verses with them.

Bongani found that previously, when selecting a captain, the boys would often choose the loudest player in the team but, lacking in respect for others. He soon drew out the quieter boys who showed leadership potential, and once placed in captaincy, began to change the mind-set of the team; leading by example in their dedication to the sport and their school work. Others have since also improved in their school results, and with Bongani’s guidance, have been applying for bursaries for tertiary education. He has also made time to help them form a study group for Maths and Science.

Between studying, training at the gym and playing matches, soccer keeps the boys busy. “They are no longer bored.” Bongani, too, feels that he has changed. For the past year, he has abstained from drinking and smoking.

“You should accept the way you are, and change the way you do things. Just having fun and buying lots of clothes won’t take you anywhere. Only education. God will provide everything later on.”

Bongani has a passion for youth development, especially empowering the young boys entering adolescence. Bongani’s dream is to empower them to become self-sufficient, productive members of their community. He, himself, has tried to set an example of this by seeing to his own groceries and rent of R550 a month. May was a particularly difficult month for Bongani, without money to afford food and basic necessities, but he still committed himself to training at the gym with the boys. He now receives a monthly food parcel from CAST’s Relief Services, which has been a great help. He hopes to one day have the means to support the boys in buying their soccer boots and kit. “I know I’ll accomplish that, but I know the path won’t be easy.”

Bongani would like to continue coaching, as he feels he is gaining a lot of experience, especially when working with the younger boys. “It’s something different, I am adapting.” To support Bongani in his mission to empower the youth, contact George at CAST on: 031 266 8830 or george@cast.org.za