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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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Soccer Boots for All

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Everyone loves buying a new pair of shoes!  In fact, just trying on new shoes can make your day better.

Last month the youth involved with CAST’s soccer teams in Noodsberg and Chibini received their own brand new shoes and socks.  For some of them it was their very first pair of new soccer boots.  CAST was only able to provide this gift through a generous donation from Community Chest.

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Over the last five years, CAST has seen a tremendous growth in the amount of youth involved with our rural soccer teams.  Our biggest challenge has been to provide the teams with soccer boots.  In the past, we relied on second hand donated shoes which were a challenge to find, and therefore most of the players didn’t have proper soccer boots, or played with no boots at all. The majority of the participants come from poor households and could not raise R600 ($44) for a new pair of soccer boots that would actually last more than just a few months.

The teenagers we work with oftentimes have low self-esteem. We have noticed whenever we attend games, coming from a poor community, most players feel embarrassed wearing worn out shoes.  The new soccer boots have boosted their self-esteem as they are able to play comfortably and with pride.  Also, the new soccer boots protect players’ feet from being injured by thorns in the ground.

In CAST’s Youth Development Programme, we believe in empowering youth to become resilient, so they are able to overcome challenges and provide solutions in their own communities.  By building the self-esteem of youth, they are able to stand up and make a positive impact in their communities.

To find out more about how you can impact the life of a young person through CAST, please contact George Mwaura at: george@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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Hands Up for Christmas In Action

 

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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.

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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

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Hearts to Hands Relief

 

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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

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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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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.