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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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Hands-up for Mariannridge

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Fiona with her son

Fiona’s Story

Last year when her son was having health problems, Fiona used to walk to the clinic in Mariannridge regularly.  One day while walking back from the clinic with a friend, she noticed the CAST centre.  Fiona and her friend decided that they needed to come and find out what was going on there.

Fiona happened to know Ralph Williams, CAST’s Mariannridge Community Co-ordinator. When she explained to him that she didn’t have electricity at her home or anything to cook, Ralph told her that he would bless her with a CAST food parcel and clothing for her children.

To make ends meet, Fiona does washing and ironing for people in the community.  However, she battles to provide clothing for her children, especially school uniforms.  This became an even bigger challenge recently when her adult son began to steal from them to fund his drug addiction.

Fiona lives at home with her mother and two younger children.  She is a caretaker both for her mother, who is often in and out of hospital, and for her husband, who suffers from severe arthritis and uses crutches to walk.

She used to live with her husband, however when his family came between the two of them, they chose to separate. Despite all the challenges, Fiona still loves and cares for her husband, even making sure he has home-cooked meals.

“I told myself, ‘Let me examine my heart.’ I forgave the family and my husband.  We need to forgive.  God told me to carry on caring for my husband.  I keep forgiving; God will deal with it.”

Fiona’s heart to forgive is evident of her love for the Lord.

“God gives me the strength to care for my husband and mother.  God knows what he has in store for us.”

Fiona also loves giving back to her community.  Recently, she and several other CAST food parcel recipients got together to help clean up at a local high school.

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CAST Clean-up day in Mariannridge

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Charmaine with Ralph, CAST’s Mariannridge Community Co-ordinator

Charmaine’s Story:

Charmaine’s journey with CAST began when her husband lost his job with Tanker Services.  Charmaine had also lost her job with an NGO in Pinetown when the organisation closed down.  Struggling to make ends meet, Charmaine reached out to Ralph at the CAST Centre.  Ralph was able to provide Charmaine with a food parcel, which provided relief for her family while they waited for Charmaine’s husband to receive his pension.  Charmaine had hope that things were going to get better.

But her hope quickly disappeared.  When Charmaine’s husband received his pension, he gave all the money away to a local witchdoctor.  As he got more and more entangled with the witchdoctor, he went so far as to sell off all their household items, until the house was completely empty.  Unable to bare the abusive situation anymore, Charmaine left her husband.

She now rents a single room and makes some money off of selling fish & chips and bunny chows in the community.  Still, Charmaine’s dream is to work in home-based care again, especially with the elderly.

“It’s easy to think, ‘Why you?’ You think ‘Why has God forsaken me?’  We were the talk of Mariannridge.  But God can change me.  I would love to give people the love I never had.”

CAST’s food parcel programme is a vital part of providing supportive relief services to individuals such as Charmaine, who are often in a desperate and vulnerable position.  Those who receive food parcels are regularly assessed by community co-ordinators, and receive additional group support through monthly food parcel recipient gatherings.  CAST’s goal is to also empower food parcel recipients to find meaningful work through the business forum, in order to become self-sufficient.

As the holidays near, please consider giving towards CAST’s Hands-up for Christmas Drive.  For each R200 donation, you will receive a snowflake or wooden Christmas tree decoration, which will remind you of the family that will be blessed with a food parcel.  Our food parcel programme provides food to 300 needy families in the communities where CAST works.

For more information, contact Zama Meyiwa at: zama@cast.org.za or 031 267 1716

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My Story

 

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Three years ago, I came to South Africa with little more than a brand new Bachelor’s Degree and a heart to serve the Lord.  A year before I had been praying to see what God wanted me to do with my life.  I had a vivid dream of working at a community centre based out of a church, where people could come and receive care.  It wasn’t until I came for a visit to South Africa in 2013 that I realized CAST was the community-based organisation God had placed in my dream, where He wanted me wanted me to serve.

During my initial three month visit, I volunteered with CAST’s Homework Club at Addington Primary School and loved every minute of helping the children.  However, the biggest thing that won me over about CAST was the organisational vision.  First of all, CAST is all about working through the local church to impact the Kingdom of God.  Instead of focusing on mere once-off “feel-good” relief work, CAST desires to mobilise the local church to provide long-term, sustainable development programmes to transform entire communities.

Another one of my favourite things about volunteering with CAST was the staff team.  I came to South Africa only knowing one person, and found a true community of like-minded people at CAST.  Before I came, I knew only a little about apartheid and the segregation that existed before freedom in South Africa.  I was amazed to see a diverse team of people from literally every walk of life, working together with one common mission.  The staff members and fellow volunteers welcomed me in, introducing me to the South African way of life and community development.  I was amazed by how the staff and volunteers sacrificed of their time and resources to accomplish something far bigger than themselves.

The CAST vision and staff team was largely why I decided to stay on volunteering long-term, and gave up dreams of pursing a master’s degree in the States.  It was an incredibly hard decision to leave family, friends and the opportunity to live the ‘American dream’, but I knew it was what the Lord was calling me to do.

Now three years later, I can say that volunteering at CAST has been completely worth it.   However, community work in South Africa is messy, difficult, time-consuming and often heart-breaking.  When you are dealing with the impacts of generational poverty, it can seem like the walls of spiritual darkness are too high to climb over.  But we serve a good, good God who is big enough to break down these walls of racism, addiction, witchcraft, fatherlessness and divided families.

The staff, volunteers and clients at CAST are what have made my experience in South Africa so valuable.  They are the people who have encouraged me to persevere when the cultural divide seemed too wide, or when I felt too homesick.  This is a team of people who care deeply about what God is doing through the local church in South Africa, no matter the cost.

1929937_943972102358167_3732381770153053908_n.jpgI have been with our organisation when God has blessed us abundantly, and when there is little.  2016 has been a year where we have had to boldly trust God for provision.  Some programmes have been downsized, but as we have gone back to the “bare-bones” of our organisation, we have been challenged to come back to the heart of CAST, the local church.  This is the hope of South Africa, and the world.

Most people I know are looking for a way to give meaningfully this Christmas season, and I want to challenge you to consider giving differently this year.  Within the NGO sphere, most people want to give directly towards programmes, which is the most obvious way to make a difference.  However, without committed staff members who are willing to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate CAST’s programmes, there will be no sustainability or long-term impact.  I have the privilege of writing stories about clients who are involved with our programmes, and when I ask them about how CAST has made a difference in their lives, they don’t mention food parcels, sports, or business forum, but instead individual staff members who made the time to hear their story, get to know them and see how they could help.

Relationships are the currency to community development.  And without dedicated staff, there would be no long-term trusting relationships with clients, volunteers or partner churches.  Please consider giving towards a staff team who have worked incredibly hard this year, and want to continue the work we have started for 2017.

You can give online (even outside of South Africa) through Givengain at this link: https://www.givengain.com/cause/4933/campaigns/17462/

Laura Mbugua-Mwaura

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Acting Justly, Loving Mercy, & Walking Humbly with our God

As this year comes to an end, the team here at CAST would like to thank our donors and volunteers for supporting Church Alliance for Social Transformation throughout 2015. God has used CAST to bring His Kingdom through mobilsing and aligning the local church to reach out with practical compassion, to empower, transform, and redeem lost and hurting communities.

Our theme verse, Micah 6:8, has been the focus of 2015 for CAST: to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. As we reflect on the year, we would to share five CAST highlights from 2015:

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1. Addington Camp & boysIIMen Camp: CAST’s annual youth camps were a great opportunity for children in our programmes to experience Christ in an environment outside their community. From a largely refugee community, 57 children attended Addington camp in Anerley and were introduced to Jesus. During boysIIMen Camp, 58 young men attended camp and 25 accepted Christ.

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2. Holiday Clubs: This year CAST partnered with local churches to put on holiday clubs in Addington, KwaDabeka, and the rural communities. Thanks to the hard work of Joseph Bode, many volunteers from our partner churches, and even an American team from Texas, CAST was able to provide a safe place for kids to learn more about Jesus during the school holidays.

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3. Lovebox Drive: This year CAST hosted our third annual lovebox drive. Over 400 children in CAST communities received a lovebox for Christmas and attended Christmas parties in their communities.

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4. Xenophobia Response: In April, the refugee community in Durban experienced xenophobic violence. CAST in partnership with Westville Baptist Church and several other local churches and organisations responsed to this violence by providing relief to those families and individuals affected. Westville Baptist Church’s Youth Centre turned into a temporary warehouse overnight for the many food, household, hygiene and children’s items donated. CAST has continued to work with the affected families and individuals by partnering with UNHCR to provide housing packages as well as support through counselling, dialogues, and data capturing.

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5. Our 5 Core Programmes: Although they are the understated backbone of our organisation, CAST’s Poverty Relief, Counselling, Youth Development, Educational Assistance, and Business Development Programmes provide the vehicle for community transformation to happen. On a daily basis, so many inviduals and families are impacted by the programmes that CAST offers in partnership with local churches. From food parcels given to families in desperate need all the way to entrepreneurs trying out their new business ideas in Lions’ Den, God is using CAST in a powerful way to grow the Kingdom of God.

Thanks to both our donors and volunteers, CAST has been able to continue our existing programmes while also expanding the reach of those programmes to transform individuals, families, and communities. During the year we had amazing opportunities to reach out and move beyond just charity to truly live out God’s call in Micah 6:8. Whether you acted justly by fighting against injustice for refugees through CAST’s relief effots, or loved mercy by mentoring a young teenager in CAST’s Youth Development Programme, we have all walked this road of serving and humbling trusting our Saviour together in 2015. CAST would like to wish all our donors and volunteers a very peaceful Christmas as we remember our Saviour’s birth.

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Carols by Candlelight

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Recently Joy Chapel Ministries, CAST’s partner church in Mariannridge, hosted a ‘Carols by Candlelight’ event at CAST’s Mariannridge Community Empowerment Centre.

In the past Joy Chapel held the event on their church premises. But for the past two years, they have moved the event into the community to join with other churches in celebrating the birth of Jesus.

This year over 60 community members attended, despite the rainy weather.  What an amazing opportunity to reach Mariannridge with the hope of Jesus during this Christmas season!

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Fill ’em up!

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This last Sunday marked the launch of CAST’s Annual Lovebox Drive!

Our goal this year is to give out just over 600 presents in 7 local communities. If you are interested in giving a child a Christmas gift, you can contact Amy Benn to receive a child’s name and a box to fill.

Here are some gift suggestions:

  • Clothing & Underwear
  • A ‘wow’ toy – e.g. soccer ball with pump, stuffed animal, doll, musical instrument
  • Smaller toys – e.g. yo-yos, toy cars, jump ropes, bouncy balls
  • School Supplies – e.g. kokis, pencils, colouring books, rulers, crayons, solar calculators, pens
  • Toiletries – e.g. deodorant, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sponge
  • Sweets – e.g. jelly sweets, fizzers, boiled sweets, sherbet
  • A note – write a note or card to the child to let them know they’re loved

Please keep in mind:

  • Your present needs to fit completely INSIDE the shoebox.
  • Don’t include sweets that can melt or expire soon.

The boxes will stay with those who pack them until they can bring them back to church (either at the CAST tree on a Sunday or at Westville Baptist Church reception on a week day) from 1st October.  Please do not bring boxes to the church before October. 

The deadline to return boxes is 17th October.

Don’t miss this opportunity to join the movement and give the children in our communities the chance to receive a Christmas present and hear all about how Jesus loves them!  Bring back those packed boxes anytime between 1-17 October.

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Christmas Burgers & Snowflakes

A few weeks ago, George Mwaura, CAST’s Sports & Youth Development Manager, matched one of his boys in KwaDabeka with a mentor. When they met for the first time at McDonalds, the mentor asked the boy what he would like for breakfast. Without hesitation, he said a BURGER!! He was so excited but waited to start eating, only to tell his mentor this was his first burger in his life… and he’s 17 years old.

When George shared the story at Westville Baptist Church, the owners of Grand Canyon Spur were moved so much by the story that they offered to provide burgers for CAST’s Youth Development End of Year Christmas Celebration.

In the words of George, “I could not hold my joy yesterday watching the boys take forever to munch their burgers. I guess it might have been the first one again for some of them. The things we take for granted….”  

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CAST would like to thank Grand Canyon Spur for their generous donation towards CAST’s Youth Development Programme.

If you are interested in making a difference this Christmas in another way, you can also get involved with CAST’s Snowflake Drive.  It’s simple: You can sponsor a food parcel for R140 by buying a snowflake decoration at any of the Sunday Services at Westville Baptist Church until 28 Dec 2014.  Your snowflake decoration is a reminder of the family you provided food for this Christmas.

If you have any questions, contact Rachel at rachel@cast.org.za or 0312671716.

If you would like to give through EFT:

CAST Bank details

Bank: Nedbank

Acc Name: CAST

Account No: 1017717672

Branch: 138026

Reference: snowflake drive

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Loveboxes in Lamont

Last Saturday a life group from Westville Baptist Church organised the Lovebox Celebration in Lamontville.  The same group that organised the Winter Warmth Drive for 40 Days of Community, this life group was amped to serve again in Lamontville.

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The kids in Lamont were absolutely spoiled!  First, the life group had stations with the following activities: face painting, biscuit decorating, colouring, fishing, musical chairs, soccer, egg and spoon race, and a potato sack race.

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Then after fun and games, the kids joined to sing some songs and hear the Christmas story from Simphiwe Mbeje, CAST’s Community Coordinator in Lamontville.  The life group served lunch and cakes to celebrate as well.

For the grand finale, Father Christmas came to visit all the children and hand out presents!  Each child was blessed with a lovebox, specially packed just for them.

Thank you to everyone at Westville Baptist Church who helped a child feel the love of Christ this Christmas season through a lovebox!

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