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CAST Savings Club Story: Thuleleni Madlala

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A talented beadworker and aspiring entrepreneur in Chesterville, Thuleleni, recently discovered the importance of saving.  During the past month, CAST’s Business Development Department has launched several Saving Clubs for local entrepreneurs in the communities where CAST partners.  The goal is to encourage community members to set aside a bit of money each month for a specific goal they want to achieve with their family.

For Thuleleni, the Savings Club is an opportunity to budget and save for her children’s school uniforms and stationery next year.  Looking ahead, Thuleleni would like to open her own fast-food restaurant and continue to grow her beadwork business.  To achieve this, she is planning to save R100 ($8) a month.

Thuleleni currently supports her family through making handcrafts and jewellery, as well as selling empty buckets, cans, tins and bottles to a recycling company in Durban.  Twice a month, she pays for two seats on the taxi from Chesterville to Durban, one for her and one for the bottles.  Through recycling, Thuleleni is able to make R350-400 ($27-31) per month, in addition to the income from selling her handcrafts and beadwork.

Thuleleni is also a part of CAST’s Sinkithemba Support Group in Chesterville.  She lives with her two children and husband, and has two other children who live in Matatiele, whom she only gets to visit twice a year.  Three years ago, Thuleleni’s husband lost his job after the company he worked for collapsed.  The situation became even more challenging when her husband started to take up practise as a traditional healer, or sangoma.

Thuleleni loves Jesus, and enjoys attending church.  When she first joined Sinkithemba, she was able to benefit from CAST’s food parcel programme.  She continues to participate in the support group in order to grow spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

CAST seeks to empower individuals like Thuleleni through programmes that provide holistic support.  We believe that long-lasting development happens through relationships that are centred on mutual respect and understanding.  Every day CAST’s volunteers, staff and partner churches work together to make a difference in the Kingdom of God by reaching out to our neighbours with practical compassion.

If you would like to mentor an aspiring entrepreneur like Thuleleni, contact CAST’s Business Development HOD, Janet Okoye, at: janet@cast.org.za or 031 266 8830

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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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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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Philani the Farmer

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From the cabbage and mealies growing around the house, to the side room in the house used as a chicken coop, no space is wasted at Philani’s farm in Noodsberg.  Even within his house, Philani’s love of farming is evident through his many copies of “Farmer’s Weekly” displayed in the living room.  What started out as just an interest in growing green peppers in 2011, has grown to become an incredibly productive farm, including pigs, calves, chickens, and multiple crops.

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Philani wasn’t always a farmer.  Originally a panel beater and mechanic, Philani’s compassionate heart for his community members in difficult circumstances kept him from making much of a profit.

However, once Philani started farming, he found his passion.  Philani credits his success to an extension government officer who taught him how to farm properly.  However, Philani’s own dedication to educating himself about farming practices has paid off over the years, especially when he began to raise pigs.  As the pigs quickly grew in number, Philani finally found himself making an actual profit.

So when CAST introduced the idea of Lions’ Den, where individuals from local communities could present their business plans to a panel of judges to be considered for a loan, Philani was interested.  He found the application process to be easier than normal loans, however he was still nervous about presenting in front of the judges.

The first to present, Philani was well-informed about his area of expertise – pig farming.  He carefully laid out his plan for growing his farm: phasing out his current non-commercial breed pigs, and buying 4 pregnant commercial breed sows.  Every question the judges threw at Philani, he was able to answer with clarity because of his knowledge and experience.

It was no surprise when Philani was chosen to receive the full loan amount of R20,000, except for Philani himself, who humbly did not expect to win.

Philani looks forward to raising the new commercial breed pigs, as there is a higher demand for them.  However, Philani’s focus is not only on making a profit.  His heart for Noodsberg and the surrounding communities is obvious.  Philani regularly gives some of his cabbages to needy families, and provides shoes for some of the children in the community. P1020267 P1020257

While Philani has assisted other farmers by teaching how to farm and providing seed, he believes, “There is still a lot to do to encourage young people to start small businesses.  I believe farming is the future.”

Philani was one of several loan recipients that participated in Lions’ Den.  Moving foward, CAST’s Business Development Department plans to match loan recipients with mentors who can assist them with their businesses.

CAST believes that Lions’ Den is vital to the mission of CAST’s Business Development: to create opportunities for people to find employment, develop businesses and further their careers so as to earn a decent income and provide for their families.  Our heart is to empower individuals like Philani to achieve their dreams and give back to the community.

If mentoring one of the loan recipients sounds like something you’d be interested in, just email Lindelwe at lindelwe@cast.org.za for more information.

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Salt of the Earth

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Two years ago, Ann’s career was one of her priorities in life. Since she was 19 years old, Ann had put a lot of time, effort and energy into working full-time and studying part-time to achieve a successful career as a Chartered Accountant and become a Financial Director in a world where the clock never stopped. Even as a mother of two children with a busy household, Ann took no break from her fast-paced life.

In 2012, Ann took the time to re-evaluate her life and asked, “Do I want to continue on this corporate road, and if so, why and for what purpose?”

The answer to this question came in the form of a self imposed “sabbatical” from her career and the corporate world. In 2013, Ann left her position as a Financial Director with a conviction to pursue her own personal interests, spend quality time with her two teenage children and tick items off the bucket list she always dreamed of fulfilling.

For the first time in her adult life, Ann experienced the simple things in life like driving in the sunshine during a weekday, picking up her kids from school and taking a proper vacation with no work involved and no backlogs to worry about. During this time, Ann heard Lee Moyo speak about CAST’s Business Development Programme at church. Realizing that this was one item on her bucket list and she had no excuse not to share her wealth of business experience, Ann decided to write her name down on the CAST volunteer list in the church foyer.

In her former career, Ann had always been actively involved in community projects, but they lacked the personal involvement that she desired. Ann started to volunteer with CAST in March 2013 as a Business Forum Trainer. While she was out of her comfort zone at first, Ann found a sense of purpose and belonging at the end of her first 18 week course. Instead of dealing with highly educated and wealthy people, many of whom had big egos, Ann found humble, sincere individuals in the townships she describes beautifully as “the salt of the earth”.  With no hidden agenda, these individuals had no desire other than to learn how to improve their quality of life.

Ann believes in the ripple effect of the business forum, that even if one person from each business forum is successful, that difference is felt in the greater community. By giving individuals skills instead of handouts, Ann believes you can create greater opportunity for those individuals and their communities.

As Ann says, “The impact is much greater than the one hour training. Life is meaningless if you cannot share your knowledge and experience with others.”

If you interested in getting involved with CAST’s Business Development Programme just like Ann, please contact Lee at: lindelwe@cast.org.za

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Patricia

“She doesn’t even say goodbye to me anymore! She feels so comfortable around you!”

Patricia from Chesterville

Patricia from Chesterville

This is what Patricia often hears from parents of the children she cares for.

A typical day at Patricia’s crèche in Chesterville begins with warm porridge, followed by smiles, laughing, and playing. Although Patricia has a limited amount of toys and resources, she loves making the babies and toddlers at her crèche feel happy and safe. After a small snack for lunch, the kids have a chance to sing and dance. They always brighten Patricia’s day and make her laugh.

Before finishing the day, she cleans up the children, changes their messy clothes and dirty nappies, and feeds them one last meal. Then it is time to send them home, tired from a long day of play, yet excited to come back tomorrow.

Patricia remembers almost four years ago when she started watching her neighbour’s grandchild. Little did she know that it would grow into a way to support herself. Although Patricia lives in a small RDP house, she found a way to make use of the space available to her.

Recently, Patricia attended CAST’s Business Forum in Westville. Business Forum has enabled Patricia to dream big about the future. While Patricia finds great satisfaction in caring for the children on her own, she also has dreams of building a larger house and employing others to help accommodate more children in Chesterville.

Patricia is finding the support she needs in CAST’s Business Forum to grow her crèche. This is exactly the heart of CAST’s Business Development Programme: To create opportunities for people to find employment, develop businesses and further their careers in order to earn a decent income and provide for their families. If you would like to get involved with CAST’s Business Forum, email Li at: lindelwe@cast.org.za

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The Clan Barbershop Project

For many of CAST’s older participants in the Youth Development Programme, finding part-time work while also pursuing further education can be a challenge. Often times the participants come from single-parent homes where they care for their younger siblings. Over the past few months, CAST has begun looking at ways to create solutions for this problem.

An exciting possibility to address this problem is The Clan Barbershop Project. This project started through a conversation between George, CAST’s Youth Development Programme Manager and David, his friend from Burundi. David first came to Westville Baptist Church when someone invited him at the Westville BP Garage where he works. He liked WBC and started coming to church on a regular basis with his cousin.

Recently David’s work schedule at the garage has kept him from attending church on Sunday. David was sharing his work frustrations with George, when they devised The Clan Barbershop Project at CAST’s Ministry Fair. It all started with David’s experience of cutting hair in Burundi.

David has spent most of his life fleeing his own country because of war. At first, David fled to Tanzania and Rwanda, waiting for the conflict to end. When he was 19, he returned to Burundi and found most of his friends cutting hair to make ends meet. When a friend offered to teach him how to cut hair, David jumped on the opportunity and learned most of the basics in just three weeks. Over time he was able to open his own barbershop and run his own business.

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David

However, once again David was forced to leave because of conflict in his home country. This time, David fled to Mozambique, and eventually South Africa. As a refugee, David was able to make a living by cutting hair, but life was not easy so he decided to work for the BP Garage in Westville.

Now David would like to cut hair again, but this time he wants to give back to the local community through The Clan Barbershop Project.  By sharing some of his experience with CAST’s older Youth Development Programme participants, David hopes to help young people who are still in school or have just graduated. CAST’s Youth Development Programme would like to open a barbershop in KwaDabeka, near Themba’s Carwash (another successful CAST business forum participant) and KwaDabeka Baptist Church. Just as David’s friend took the time to teach him, David would like to teach other younger guys how to cut hair so that they can work part-time while still attending school.

Future location of The Clan Barbershop Project

Future location of The Clan Barbershop Project

Barbershop location near Themba's Carwash in KwaDabeka

Barbershop location near Themba’s Carwash in KwaDabeka

The Clan Barbershop Project will not only create employment for CAST’s Youth Development participants, but will also offer a valuable service to the young people in KwaDabeka who normally have to travel to Pinetown, KK, or Durban central to have their hair cut. By bringing this service closer to the youth and at a more affordable cost, CAST hopes that this project will also give back to the greater community.

Currently, The Clan Barbershop Project would like to employ at least five older guys in the Youth Development Programme who want to work part-time while going to school. During the school holidays, David will be able to train more participants.

Please pray that as we launch The Clan Barbershop Project, it will be a successful integration of CAST’s Business Development and Youth Development Programmes. Pray that the programme graduates and senior basketball team (also known as “The Clan”, which the project was named after) will benefit from this new project as they begin a new chapter in life.