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Desmond & Asina

Desmond & Asina

Desmond & Asina

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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Early Literacy Volunteers Needed

20160728-word-works-addington-6-of-32Over the past four years CAST has partnered with an NPO called Wordworks to implement their foundation phase programme called the Early Literacy Programme (ELP).

The ELP is an intervention programme for underprivileged children in the foundation phase (Grade R through 2).  The Literacy Programme provides support for children who are lacking in early language and literacy skills.  Currently CAST is running the programme at Addington Primary School in the South Beach area to help Grade 1 learners develop their reading and writing skills.

Tutors/Volunteers are needed to work with pairs of children for a couple of hours each week. We currently run the programme every Tuesday and Thursday from 9-11:30am. No previous experience is needed, just a love of children and a bit of patience! CAST will provide you with initial training and ongoing support and advice.

If you would like to get involved, contact Joseph at 031 267 1716 or joseph@cast.org.za. Contact us and you can even visit on a Tuesday/Thursday to see us in action.

Join the movement beyond charity and help us make a difference in the lives of young children!

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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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Township Tours

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Have you ever been curious to see what life is like in a township?  Then don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to go on a CAST Township Tour!  We look forward to hosting you on a tour where you can see some of the communities in which we minister.

This tour aims to give participants a rich understanding of the history, culture and people of these communities and how they are tied to the surrounding suburbs and city. We focus on the role of churches, missions, schools and businesses, past and present, while also experiencing the culture and meeting interesting people.

There are two tour options:

DSC_0438Durban Central, Addington, Chesterville & Cato Manor (Tuesday 9am-4:30pm)

Experience the best of cultural diversity in “Durbs” by checking out the famous Warwick Indian Market, while also learning more about the historical roots of the Apartheid Struggle through Cato Manor’s local museum, as well as current development work and the ministry of CAST in the ever-evolving township of Chesterville.

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Clermont, KwaDabeka & Mariannridge (Wednesday 9am-4:30pm)

If you’ve ever wondered what everyday life is like in a township, this is the tour for you!  Come join our CAST team for home visits to meet local families in Clermont & KwaDabeka, as well as visiting local schools to meet the youth.  In Mariannridge, take a walk through this small community to meet locals and hear more about the issues facing this township.  Learn more about CAST’s programmes and partnerships in these communities.

Cost: R180 per person (includes lunch & refreshments)

CAST’s Township Tours will be run regularly on Tuesdays/Wednesdays, based on need (min: 8 people, max: 14 people).  Pick up and drop off is at Westville Baptist Church, and all transportation is provided via the CAST Bus.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience our neighbouring communities!

To book or for more information, please contact Dale Nunes at: dale@cast.org.za or 031 267 1716

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Zama

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For the past two years, CAST has been blessed with a team of social work students from UNISA and UKZN who do their practical placements with our organisation.  Last year, one of those students from UNISA, Zama Meyiwa, was placed at Addington Primary School with the Bright Site Project.  Now as a qualified social worker, Zama has joined the team of CAST interns for 2016.

“I want to put into practice what I’ve learned as a social worker and go into the community with an open mind.”

This year Zama will be primarily working with the Relief Services and Counselling Departments, while also assisting in other departments.  Her skills as a qualified social worker make her a valuable member of the CAST team!

Known as a serious person, Zama is a bit of a workaholic and likes to get stuff done.  However her passion for social inclusion is very evident.  Growing up in the rural community of Umbumbulu, Zama was motivated to pursue a career in which she could make a difference in the community and help others.

“Social work is mostly about development – not to just be there and do nothing, but to understand the people.  If you help a single person in the community, they will go out and help others.  Then the project will sustain itself.”

CAST relies on our amazing team of interns to accomplish much of the work the Lord has called us to do.  Our interns are supported by donors who believe in their calling and want to support CAST’s mission to mobilise the local church to reach out with practical compassion to empower, transform and redeem communities.  If you are interested in supporting Zama this year, you can either give directly through EFT (details below) or contact Charmaine Moses at: charmaine@cast.org.za

Nedbank, Branch: Westville Mall/138026

Account: CAST Trust, No: 101 7717 672

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Showtime 2015

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Every year Westville Baptist Church, CAST, and an amazing team of volunteers partner to put together a fun and exciting holiday club for children who attend Addington Primary School.

This year was no different!  The theme was “Showtime” and the kids were part of the ‘live’ show. The theme focused around how God loves us and all about how to be a good friend and have good friendships.  The messages centred around making real life applications from movies clips.

Daniel from the Bible also came to visit our kids at holiday club, and shared all about his story!

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Lastly, CAST hosted a Parent Evening last night at Addington so parents could come and see what their children had been learning at holiday club.  Parents also received special gift packs, and were encouraged by guest speaker, Moira Longe.

Please be in prayer that the kids at Addington Holiday Club continue to grow in their relationship with God and are able to be an awesome friend to the people around them!  Thank you to everyone who gave of their time and resources to make this holiday club possible.

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Lydia

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“CAST – it was like an angel coming to my doorstep.”

Most people don’t know that Lydia is sick.  A bright, cheerful CAST volunteer who loves to look smart, Lydia faithfully comes to CAST’s Wordworks Literacy Programme twice a week to assist Addington Primary School learners with basic reading and writing skills.

Lydia passes on her joy to the learners through her contagious smile.  However, her smile and laughter hides a world of physical pain that she has lived with since 2006 when she was diagnosed with cancer.

In fact, Lydia first connected with CAST through a friend in the Parklands cancer ward.  It was through this friend that she met Janine Pepper, CAST’s Community Development Manager.

At the time, Lydia had lost her job as a Forensic Report Analyst because she was too sick to go to work.  A family friend was providing for her medical aid, but Lydia battled to pay for rent, electricity, and food.

As a social worker, Janine encouraged Lydia to access a disability grant to cover some of her expenses, as well as monthly food parcels from CAST.

During this time Lydia had received eviction notices and was in court fighting to stay in her flat.  With Janine’s assistance from CAST, Lydia was able to secure enough finances to pay for her rent.  Then just when things were looking better, Lydia hit rock bottom when she came home to her flat building and found all her belongings thrown out in the street.  Despite paying her rent in full, Lydia was unjustly thrown out of her flat.

As Lydia explains, “I was like a laughing stock.  It was the biggest humiliation.”

Eventually with the help of Janine, Lydia was able to move back into her flat.

Wanting to give back to the community, Lydia was introduced to the Wordworks Programme by Yasmin Adams, CAST’s Inner City Area Coordinator.  She now actively tutors several learners struggling with basic literacy and language skills.  In the Literacy Programme, Lydia has found a purpose.

Lydia confidently says, “I still believe God wanted to prove He has been with me all the way.  Each day means a lot to me.  God has been journeying with me.  He’s preparing me for something big to come.”

All of CAST’s programmes are grassroot by nature, being run by ordinary people, for ordinary people, but in ways that bring extraordinary results.  Many of CAST’s volunteers are themselves CAST food parcel recipients, business forum participants, sports team members, or counselling clients.

CAST’s goal is to give a hand up, not a hand out.  Our heart is to mobilise the local church to reach out with practical compassion, to empower and transform lost and hurting communities.  By empowering people to transform their own communities, we believe that the Kingdom of God will be advanced.

Currently, Lydia is still looking for some kind of employment.  If you know of a job opportunity suited for Lydia, please contact Janine Pepper at: janine@cast.org.za

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CAST AGM 2014: Building the Movement

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On Tuesday, CAST celebrated what God has done in 2014 through our Annual General Meeting.  The focus of the night was on CAST’s commitment to building a movement of Christians and churches who build the kingdom of God every day, in simple, ordinary ways by bringing peace, justice, compassion and salvation to everyone we touch.  CAST celebrated our staff, volunteers, donors, and members, and their commitment to becoming part of the movement.

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Before the AGM, everyone enjoyed a light dinner of soup and bread.  Then attendees were entertained by two local choirs from Lamontville who performed songs in both English and Zulu.

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If you missed out on hearing this amazing choir, make sure to check out this link:

https://www.facebook.com/murry.pieterse/videos/vb.624348453/10153311216693454/?type=2&theater

In addition to hearing updates from various CAST staff, attendees also had the chance to hear a few testimonies from individuals who have been empowered by CAST, including Mbali Sontsele, a woman from Lamontville who lost her home in a fire, Lydia Gayiya, an Addington CAST volunteer, and Sizwe Blose, a young man from KwaDabeka who has been mentored.

“Give Your Brain a Hand” artwork, created by students from Addington Primary School, was displayed in the foyer for guests to see.  Most of the artwork was created from recycled materials.

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Overall the night was a great success, celebrating what God has done in the lives of his people.  Thank you for being a part of the movement!

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Thoko the Teacher

One of CAST’s most faithful volunteers, Thoko was more than thrilled to become a CAST intern at the beginning of this year. Thoko’s journey with CAST began in 2014 when he was working a part-time job and looking for a way to give back to his community. One Sunday morning Thoko came to Westville Baptist Church, with a CV in hand and hoping for a chance to volunteer. After hearing CAST’s Executive Director, Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt, speak during the service, Thoko knew CAST was the place for him.

Thoko is originally from the small country of Malawi. As Thoko explains, “Malawians are too nice. Everyone greets you. Malawi is a poor country, but its people are hardworking.”

True to his word, Thoko used his passion for teaching through volunteering at CAST’s Homework Club in Addington. Last year when Homework Club transformed into the new Wordworks Literacy Programme, Thoko was excited to get involved.

When children come to the programme who are struggling with reading and writing, Thoko finds it incredibly fulfilling to work with the students. While volunteering with students who have fallen behind requires some serious patience, Thoko believes any volunteer can find a sense of fulfillment from getting involved with CAST’s Literacy Programme. The more informal and fun learning environment allows students to make enormous improvement within a short amount of time.

As Thoko explains, “The Literacy Programme opens up a whole future to the kids.” Without adequate reading or writing skills, students struggle to succeed in every subject. The goal of CAST’s Literacy Programme is to help students with basic literacy and language skills that lay the foundation for overall academic performance.

CAST’s Literacy Programme is completely dependent on volunteers who give a few hours of their time a week. If you have a heart for kids and education, and want to get involved, just email Murry at: murry@cast.org.za to find out more. CAST provides Wordworks training that makes it easy to get started. The Literacy Programme runs on Tuesday and Thursday at Addington Primary School in Durban central.

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An Army of Volunteers

“We are going to need what a wonderful book calls a moral underground, an army of volunteers.” -Prof. Jonathan Jansen

DSC_0569 As a grandfather and long-time member of Westville Baptist Church, Sandy Forsyth has a heart for children and serving God.  Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, you can count on seeing Sandy at Addington Primary School.  Sandy consistently gives of his time to tutor students at Addington.  Rain or shine, and even when few volunteers are to be found, Sandy arrives at Addington, ready to pour into the lives of the children.

Five years ago, Sandy listened to a video in which Professor Jonathan Jansen spoke about the problem of education in South Africa.  Jansen discussed the incongruence between private schools, where a small amount of middle to upper class students attend, and the poorer and under-resourced public schools, where the majority of the population is educated.  Instead of blaming the government, Jansen challenged ordinary people to get involved in education through volunteering their time to tutor students – even just a couple hours a week.  Jansen called for an “army of volunteers” to tackle these issues.

Sandy took this message to heart, and began to look for opportunities to volunteer at a school.  In 2006 his daughter, Lucy Johnson, and Lauren Bras started a ministry in Addington, and they were looking for volunteers who could help Addington students with their homework after school.  After Lauren approached Sandy about volunteering with CAST at Addington, he began to come faithfully every week.

Addington Primary is a unique school in that many of the students are refugees from other countries in Africa.  They speak Swahili, French, and other local languages from their home countries.  Students often fall behind because they do not have basic English language skills, and their parents are unable to assist in their education because of the language barrier as well.  In addition, children are instructed in classes of 40 or more students, allowing little time for individual attention from teachers. The result is that many students do not know their alphabet or basic phonics.  The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that the school only began to offer Grade R two years ago, so many of the students lack any pre-primary education which normally provides the necessary foundation for basic language and literacy skills.

Instead of being intimidated by these many challenges, Sandy dived in with his students, helping groups of 8 to 10 students to complete their homework after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  During the past few months, CAST has changed Homework Help into a programme that addresses the unique needs of Addington students.  The new Literacy Programme uses material from Wordworks, an organisation that supports the early language and literacy learning of children from historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa.

A picture of Sandy drawn by one of his students

A picture of Sandy drawn by one of his students

Sandy enjoys the new Literacy Programme because it allows more one-on-one attention for students.  Each volunteer in the programme is paired with two students, allowing more focus on foundational language and literacy skills.  By working with only two children, Sandy believes you can more clearly see the progress and growth of students.

Sandy encourages retirees to get involved with the Literacy Programme because there is a need for volunteers every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  By giving a few hours a week to tutor two students, you can help tackle the problem of education in South Africa.  CAST provides training for Literacy Programme volunteers, and the Wordworks materials makes it easy to jump in and get started with the programme right away.  CAST also provides a library of books for volunteers to use with the students.

CAST’s Educational Assistance Programme aims to rescue the academic potential of learners through the Literacy Programme which will help them grasp key concepts, and reduce obstacles to future success.  However the Literacy Programme needs ordinary people that can become “an army of volunteers” to tackle the issues that hinder the potential of students.  If you are passionate about children and issues of education, please contact Murry, CAST’s Volunteer Coordinator at murry@cast.org.za.