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Ayanda’s Story

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Ayanda’s Story

By Rolan Gulston

Two years ago, twenty-nine year old Ayanda Mkhwanazi would never have envisioned that soon, he would be the proud owner of a maize meal production company. One of 13 children at home, he grew up in the humble farmlands of the Umgungundlovu District in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

After matriculating from Wartburg School, he pursued his passion for sport and studied Sport Psychology for two years. Although this helped Ayanda in developing a strong sense of focus and determination, he faced daily challenges in journeying home each evening after late lectures when public transport had already closed operations for the day.

Sadly, he did not have the financial means to further his studies as his grandfather, who had taken the role as his primary guardian since the passing of his father, already had the responsibility of supporting Ayanda’s two younger brothers.

With his dream of becoming a professional soccer player slipping further out of reach as he got older, Ayanda made a decision to go a different route and work as a promoter for a well-known liquor brand, but continued to play soccer socially for a local team. He developed a close friendship with one of his team mates, Bradley Bester, who welcomed Ayanda into his family. Bradley’s mother, Nicky, in particular, played a strong, supportive role in mentoring Ayanda.

The Bester family moved to England for two years, their absence strongly affecting Ayanda’s sense of stability. He began drinking and smoking to cope with the pain, negatively affecting his behaviour and attitude to the point of being kicked out of the house by his aunt whom he was living with in the city.

With nowhere else to stay, he returned home to live with his grandfather on the farm. In this environment, job opportunities were scarce. Having few other options, Ayanda asked a friend living in Pinetown if he knew of a room available to rent. He received a positive response, with the owner generously agreeing to keep the room for Ayanda until he could raise funds to pay the R820 ($63) rent.

By God’s perfect timing, the Bester family returned to South Africa the very next week. In seeing the stagnation of Ayanda’s progress since their emigration, they assisted him in raising the rent money by paying him R200 ($15) an hour to train with Bradley for soccer. Soon, not only did Ayanda have enough money to pay the rent, he could also afford to furnish the room with a fridge, bed and kettle.

After soccer training, Ayanda and Bradley frequented the then newly-opened Talkhouse Coffee Shop at Westville Mall for coffee and breakfast. Shane, the owner of the coffee shop, soon took an interest in Ayanda and offered him a job. Without prior experience as a waiter, Ayanda began working part-time as a ‘runner’ cleaning tables, but, gradually, under Shane’s guidance, grew in skill and understanding of the business. During this time, the Westville community took a strong liking to Ayanda, his humble and gentle manner resonating especially with older customers, who urged Shane to hire him as a full-time employee.

A frequent customer at the Talkhouse from a local Westville church would seek out Ayanda especially, and came to be known as his ‘granny’. She gifted him with a brand new Bible, which Ayanda accepted, but admittedly first started reading simply to pass the time after work. His view changed as he found himself engrossed in scripture for hours at a time.

One Sunday, Ayanda accepted the invitation from a friend to attend a service at Westville Baptist Church after his morning shift at the coffee shop. This is where the Bible “came to life” for Ayanda, who was new to this style of worship. His exposure to the teachings of the Christian faith led him to become more consciously aware of the areas in his life where he was not following a Christ-like path. Within two months, he joined a cell group and signed up for the Alpha course, which helped him to gain a clear sense of direction and inspired him to take another bold step forward in his personal growth.

In 2017, Ayanda made the difficult decision to leave his job at the Talkhouse and start his own business. Bradley Bester came on board as his business partner, and together they launched “Numzane Super White Maize Meal”. Growing up, the maize grown on his grandfather’s farm was a main source of nutrition for Ayanda, and the brand name “Numzane” meaning “sir” in isiZulu also carried with it a sentimental meaning as the title his grandfather often called him as a term of endearment.

In the months following, Ayanda and Bradley worked closely to learn the ‘ins and outs’ of running a business. They decided to primarily market the product to suit the financial constraints of those living in rural areas. “I don’t care about the big shops”, Ayanda asserts, as he works long hours to personally deliver the maize directly to customers in the KwaZulu-Natal region. His dream is to make a meaningful impact in helping to end hunger in poor communities. CAST has partnered with Ayanda to supply the maize meal for food parcels distributed to seven local communities each month as part of our Relief Services Programme, made possible by generous donations in funding. This programme benefits 280 families living in poverty, 77% of which have a household income of less than R2 000 ($154) a month.  CAST empowers these families through Poverty Stoplight, a visual survey that helps the families to self-diagnose their level of poverty and develop a personal strategy to lift them permanently out of poverty.  Through CAST’s Business Development programme, food parcel beneficiaries are also empowered with the tools to start their own small businesses like Ayanda.

For others wanting to become entrepreneurs, Ayanda advises that it starts with good mentorship, because “you need someone who can help you understand where you want to go, and what you can do with your life.” CAST’s Business Development programme offers the opportunity for those with the knowledge and skill to mentor others like Ayanda to reach their business goals and become strong leaders in their communities. To get involved in this programme, or sponsor a food parcel for a local family in need, contact CAST at: 031 266 8830

Additionally, if you would like to support Ayanda through purchasing Numzane Super White Maize Meal, please contact Sandy Reid at: sandy@cast.org.za

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CAST at Daleview High Tea: Grace, Glamour & Grit

CAST at Daleview High Tea: Grace, Glamour & Grit

By Cindy Whittle

“The world will never realise 100 per cent of its goals if 50 per cent of its people cannot realise their full potential. When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all.”  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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Youth empowerment through resilience training is one of four focus areas of community development at the Church Alliance for Social Transformation (CAST). This, together with her passion for advocacy in the subject of gender equality, is one of the reasons why CAST’s General Manager, Charmaine Moses, jumped at the opportunity to address the young ladies at Daleview High School accompanied by CAST staff members, Cindy Whittle and Noeleen Moonsamy. On the 18th of August, Daleview held their annual High Tea.  Having spent the first five years of her teaching career at the school, Mrs. Moses felt at home, challenging the girls on what it means to be ‘3G-compliant’ and even better, ‘4G-compliant’.

“Girls, you’ve got to have Grace, Glamour and Grit to achieve your goals – the ‘3G’s”, elaborated Mrs. Moses, as the girls listened intently.

Mrs. Whittle also took the opportunity to share her personal story, a testament to the role that grit has played in helping her to overcome challenges she has faced in her life. “Having grit means digging deep and pressing on when things are really hard”, she conveyed.

In closing, Charmaine boldly asked the girls, “What could be better than ‘3G’?”, answered by a resounding “4G!” Mrs. Moses excitedly shared what the addition of the 4th and most important ‘G’, God, has made to her life.

“With God the other ‘3G’s are fast-tracked” she said. “Grace, glam and grit is made possible with God in our lives. Even true glamour comes from within.”

The girls were presented with a “Certificate of Attendance” for their first ‘4G’ course and gifted with small tokens representing female empowerment, followed by tea and treats. CAST in partnership with Cornerstone Community Church (Longbury Drive, Phoenix) looks forward to building on the lessons shared in this first session with the young ladies at Daleview High School that may foster a culture of spiritual and emotional resilience for our leaders of tomorrow.

To learn more about CAST’s impact in Phoenix, contact Daniel Moses at: mosesdaniel20@gmail.com or 071 364 4860

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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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Joyce’s Story

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Joyce’s Story

By Rolan Gulston 

Fifty-four year old Joyce Mukuya of Mariannridge has gained a new lease on life since becoming involved with CAST late last year. As a member of the Apostolic Church, Joyce recalls a frightening encounter with ‘Madlozi’, a spirit believed in Traditional Zulu African culture to be a sign or calling to become a sangoma. Joyce turned to her pastor who, together with members of her church, prayed over her for protection. Shortly after this, Joyce dreamt of her late mother, calling her to pray and continue going to church.

As a widow, and mother of three children, two of whom are unemployed with children of their own, Joyce has suffered financial struggles since her ex-husband’s passing caused by a stroke at the age of 58. Joyce has also had health problems of her own. She spent three weeks in hospital after suffering a mild stroke. She currently lives with ongoing heart problems and battles with arthritis. A few years prior, she was involved in treating a young boy in her area who was stabbed several times, and, in doing so, contracted HIV. Joyce did not receive any form of counselling after this incident. The social grant she receives from the government has been her main source of income.

For four years, her family lived without electricity due to unpaid electricity bills, and had to go through the task of collecting water and carrying it to their home. Through the generosity of a member of her community, their bill of R4900 was settled, and electricity restored.

Her daughter, Candy, aged 22, mother of 2 toddlers, earns some money from hair styling, cooking and sewing. Her son, Ian, 39 has experience with electrical work, vehicle mechanics and security services, but his problem with drug abuse has thwarted his opportunities for employment. Joyce has two other children, a daughter living in Shongweni and a son in Cape Town who do not offer any means of support.

Joyce heard about the Relief Services that CAST administers in the Mariannridge community, and got in touch with the Community Co-ordinator, Ralph Williams. She now receives a monthly food parcel and is able to earn additional income through door-to-door sales of clothing supplied by CAST. Her daughter, Candy has also found a new avenue to earn money from her talent for sewing through CAST’s Business Development programme, which has sold her handmade goods locally to visiting mission teams from the USA. Both Joyce and Candy are also a part of the Savings Club, a new branch of the Business Development Programme which aims to develop the practise of saving and investing in business ideas.

Since recommitting her life to Christ this year, and becoming involved with CAST, Joyce has managed to overcome a long-time drinking problem and now has renewed hope for the future. Going forward, she would greatly appreciate help with getting a new sewing machine to increase her family’s earning potential.

If you would like to donate a sewing machine towards Joyce’s family, please contact Sandy at: sandy@cast.org.za or 031 266 8830

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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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Mama Khombisile

CAST Savings Club Story: Mama Khombisile

Mama Khombisile

Mama Khombisile is incredibly passionate about wonder bags!  She joined CAST’s Chesterville Savings Club with the intention of putting aside R50 ($3.84) a month to purchase materials for the wonder bags.

As she explains, “This is a big opportunity to open my own business.”

At the moment, Mama Khombisile supports herself by selling bottles and cans to be recycled.  She also receives a CAST food parcel to supplement her diet.

Her granddaughter lives with relatives in Inanda, and is in Grade 10. Gogol Khombisile would like to use some of her savings for her granddaughter’s school uniform and further education.

More recently Mama Khombisile became the treasurer of CAST’s Chesterville Savings Club.

Mama Khombisile is one of the many local community members who benefits from CAST’s development programmes and is working hard to achieve her future goals. To make a contribution towards CAST’s various programmes, such as Relief Services (food parcels & clothing) or Business Development, contact CAST at: 031 266 8830 or laura@cast.org.za

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CAST Health Education: Diabetes Awareness

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CAST distributes 300 food parcels to those living below the poverty line. These food parcels are handed out in 7 communities. A recent survey of the poverty levels of food parcel recipients showed that 89% earn an income of less than R 1 500 for the whole family per month. It also showed that 77% of the food recipients’ diet does not include the correct food groups, resulting in the rise of obesity and malnutrition.

77% of food parcel recipients have a family member suffering from diabetes or hypertension. Due to these findings, CAST has taken steps to partner with a member from Westville Baptist, Jenny Russel, from Diabetes South Africa. Jenny shared recent statistics which revealed that, in KwaZulu-Natal alone, there are 1.3 million diagnosed diabetics in state health facilities. Every day, 6 amputations are carried out in hospitals, which could have been prevented if people were eating correctly or diagnosed and treated early.

During the next ministry day when we hand out food parcels, a health education talk about diabetes will be given to all the food parcel recipients who will also have their blood pressure taken and be screened for diabetes. We will be able to refer those to the local clinic who are needing treatment and ongoing care.

To screen each food parcel recipient, it will cost CAST R20 per person. This simple test could change a person’s life. If you would like to donate R20 towards supporting a food parcel recipient to be screened for diabetes and hypertension, please contact Sandy Reid at sandy@cast.org.za or on 031 266 8830.

This Sunday is also CAST Food Parcel Sunday. A R200 donation will provide a food parcel for a family of four for two weeks.

CAST is a registered non-profit: 085-077 NPO. Donations are deductible in term of Section 18A of the Income Tax Act.                      

Bank Details:  CAST Trust, Nedbank, Westville Mall/138 026, No: 101 7717 672