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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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Holiday Club Season 2016

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This year CAST took our annual holiday club season to a whole other level by partnering with local churches to host clubs in five of our communities.  A total of 1100 children were reached with the Gospel.  The adventure started off in the rural communities where kids came to learn more about Jesus at Noodsberg Baptist Church.  Then, the attention turned to Durban central, where CAST continued our long standing partnership with Addington Primary School to host a holiday club for learners.  Volunteers from both Westville Baptist Church and local partner churches were key to the success of the programme.

This week CAST made a new record of hosting three simultaneous holiday clubs in KwaDabeka, Lamontville and Mariannridge!  CAST was only able to accomplish this through the hard work of volunteers from Lake Pointe Church (Texas, USA), KwaDabeka Baptist Church, Lamontville Baptist Church and Joy Chapel Ministries (Mariannridge).

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Below are the stories of two high school students from Lake Pointe Church who gave of their holidays to volunteer with the clubs at Lamontville and Mariannridge:

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Paige, a volunteer from Lake Pointe Church

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Kylea (on right) with a local volunteer

Paige and Kylea came to South Africa for the first time last year.  They served at the holiday club in KwaDabeka, and fell in love with the culture and people.  Despite the language barrier and challenges of running a holiday club in a different setting, Paige and Kylea felt the Lord calling them to return to South Africa this year.

As Paige explains about serving, “You have to prepare your heart and be open to learning new things.  You also have to be open to the flow; things don’t always go the way you planned.”

Kylea also shared, “Even coming to the other side of the world, the same God is Lord everywhere.  You have to get out of your comfort zone.  I’ve learned how to be a better leader.”

CAST’s partnership with Lake Pointe Church is also vital for community volunteer training.  Instead of just implementing holiday clubs once-off, Lake Pointe has the long-term goal to empower church volunteers to serve their own communities.

Last year Lake Pointe provided volunteer leader training for local community members in KwaDabeka.  This year KwaDabeka Baptist Church was able to implement their own holiday club with entirely local community volunteers.

CAST would like to thank all our partners, volunteers and donors who made this holiday club season such a huge success!

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Photo Credit: John Benn Photography

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Rural Happenings

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CAST’s Appelsbosch Community Empowerment Centre

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Pastor Dube and Coach Ostrich

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Appelsbosch Baptist Church

A few weeks ago, we heard from Ostrich, CAST’s Sport & Youth Development Intern in Appelsbosch.  Since that last update, the outside painting of Appelsbosch Baptist Church has been finished, and the connecting CAST Community Centre Office has been completed as well.  Appelsbosch community members now have a formal place to go to access CAST services.

In regards to Youth Development in this community, Ostrich organised 38 children from Noodsberg Primary School for a development rugby team.  For the older guys, Ostrich has put together a district team for 23 players from Appelsbosch, Noodsberg, and Chibini.  They recently played in a local tournament and won.

During the school holidays, the Vikings Rugby Academy from Norwegian Settlers Church will be doing a coaching clinic for the rugby teams in Appelsbosch.

In our other rural communities, Noodsberg Baptist Church and Chibini Baptist Church will be hosting a Fun Run/Walk this weekend.  There will be a 5K Walk and Run, as well as 10K and 20K Runs.  Medals will be awarded for winners.

Make sure to check out our Facebook page to see photos from these exciting upcoming events at: http://facebook.com/CAST_ngo

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Coach Ostrich

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CAST’s Youth Development Team (left to right): Shaun (KwaDabeka Intern), Ostrich (Appelsbosch Intern), and George (Youth Development Manager)

Originally from Appelsbosch, Mazisi (also known as ‘Ostrich’) is no stranger to the challenges that face his community, especially for the youth.  Appelsbosch is located in the Ilembe district, neighbouring the other partner CAST communities of Noodsberg and Chibini.  High rates of teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and lack of activities and work opportunities keep the youth in this community from realising their potential.

As Ostrich explains, “Most youth from this area are not doing anything.  Guys finished with Matric are not going to college.  Their mindset is to go straight from Matric to work – that is all they know.”

After attending school in Pietermaritzburg, Ostrich decided to move back to his home community to make a difference.  Ostrich is a talented rugby athlete with extensive coaching experience.  This year Ostrich joined the CAST Team, and he oversees CAST’s sports teams in the local communities of Appelsbosch, Chibini, and Noodsberg.

Ostrich works from Appelsbosch Baptist Church.  An impressive 90 percent of the congregation is made up of young people, ranging from 15-25 years old.  Many of the church attendees are from the local college in Appelsbosch, a campus of Coastal KZN TVET College.  When George, CAST’s Youth Development Manager, provided two buckets of paint for Appelsbosch Baptist, Ostrich was able to organise these young people to paint the church walls.  P1020232

Ostrich still faces many challenges in launching a formal Youth Development Programme in Appelsbosch.  There are no fields in the area for sport, and Ostrich has struggled to get involved with youth in the schools.  However, he remains optimistic and realizes there is a need to meet with community members to build trust – specifically parents of the youth.

Please be in prayer for this exciting new opportunity to reach the youth of Appelsbosch!

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Captain Banda

Back in 2010, Banda was skinny and tall, just looking for a place to train in KwaDabeka. He started coming to CAST’s basketball practices with his friend Tukiso and found much more than just a place to shoot hoops.

Banda (in white, far left) with the CAST team in 2010

Banda (in white, far left) with the CAST team in 2010

Since he joined in Grade 10, Banda has grown up with his CAST teammates, learning about life in community. As Banda says, “Teamwork is a crucial thing. I’ve learned you need people to guide you, to give you that extra boost.”

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Off the court, Banda also participated in boys2Men Camp, learning more about what a father actually looks like, and how to be there as a parent for your children.

By the time Matric rolled around, Banda realized he couldn’t be on the team as much as he would like if he wanted to succeed in school. Banda was determined to do whatever it took to pass. His efforts paid off when Matric results were posted; he scored 4 A’s and missed the fifth A by one percentage point.

This same work ethic carried on with Banda as he chose to pursue Maritime Studies at DUT. However financial complications stood in the way to even begin classes.

After approaching CAST for assistance, Banda was able to cover his registration fees and begin classes. Determined to find a way to pay for school in the future, he applied for bursaries.

As he battled to cover his expenses, Banda began to feel as though he wouldn’t be able to continue at DUT; he didn’t receive his first semester results because of the outstanding fees.

Then finally, Banda’s big break came. Among five of his peers, Banda was chosen to receive a bursary for the following year’s school fees. In addition, Banda will receive training and employment to help cover some of his remaining school fees from last year.

Here at CAST, we believe in empowering willing and aspiring young people like Banda, living in under-resourced communities to realize their dreams and make a difference in their community. This year Banda is not only pursuing his dreams, but also giving back to his community by tutoring high school students involved with CAST’s Programmes in KwaDabeka.

If you are interested in supporting a young person like Banda financially, or through mentoring, please contact George Mwaura at george@cast.org.za to find out more about how you can get involved.

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One Step Further.

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Themba Dlamini, one of the great success stories to emerge out of CAST’s business development programme, has taken his car-wash business to the next level.

With dreams of expansion, Themba set out with a mission to purchase a container for his business. This would allow him to have a spaza shop running alongside his carwash so that while customers were waiting, they could hang out, purchase food and drinks and socialise with one another.

Last weekend, the passionate entrepreneur held an Open Day to celebrate the new development in his business. Denis de Chalain, who is a business mentor to Themba, works for the Imana Foods Group and organised for them to run an Imana promotion in conjunction with the Open Day. They required a core group of people to cook their food samples on the day and this was done by several of CAST’s Business Forum volunteers. This partnership helped contribute to the days success and drew in bigger crowds who were curious to see what the hype was about ( and wanted to get some free Imana promotional products).

Despite the rainy weather, a significant amount of people turned up to support KwaDabeka’s favourite businessman and the atmosphere was full of celebratory joy for Themba.

The next step is to develop his Car Wash business further by adding a “shisanyama”, or a braai area to the mix. He is looking forward to future events where other companies will be partnering with him to market his business as well as their brands, so watch this space.

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Brighten Up Kwadabeka

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On Tuesday, the 24th September, 100 members of Westville Baptist Church along with 120 members of the Kwadabeka community, came together in a beautiful portrayal of Heritage Day.

An initiative powered by CAST- a social outreach non-profit- and Westville Baptist, “Brighten up Kwadabeka” was a day aimed at painting, fixing, cleaning and repairing Sithokozile Secondary School, handing out food parcels and making home visits to the food parcel recipients of the community, and running a children’s programme for the young ones at Kwadabeka Baptist Church.

The day ran from 8am until 12pm and ended off with a massive community braai, in celebration of South Africa’s National Braai Day. In every classroom, a group of people could be found hard at work, covered in paint, and out on the field there were people sanding down pillars, replacing gutters, hosing down the roof and cleaning up litter.

The partnership with Sithokozile Secondary School and Westville Baptist began 1994 when the church opened a soup kitchen for needy pupils. Since then, Sithokozile became the first township school in KZN to receive a new soccer pitch, made from synthetic grass. This initiative, along with the opening of a counselling centre at the school, was organised by the Church Alliance for Social Transformation (CAST).

The relationship between CAST and the Kwadabeka community has developed over the years and now includes an ongoing and effective food parcel programme, a sports programme and a business development forum.

It was an honour and privilege to have had another opportunity to serve this community, and to see so many people of all colours and ages, come together.

 

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