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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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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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Njabulo

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Originally from Johannesburg, Njabulo is an 18 years old who is passionate about cars, science and sport.  Njabulo and his grandfather have lived in KwaDabeka since 2011.  They moved to Durban in order to be closer to family after his grandfather lost his leg in a serious accident.

In Johannesburg Njabulo played for the Blue Bulls Junior Rugby team and loved athletics.  However in KwaDabeka the rugby teams were too far away to join.  Wanting to try a new sport, Njabulo went to KwaDabeka Baptist Church in 2014 to find out if he could train with the CAST basketball team (aka the Clan).  After meeting with the coach and filling out a few forms, Njabulo officially joined the Clan.

“The Clan welcomed me with a warm heart.  I didn’t feel different.  They let me fit in like a puzzle piece.

From the Clan, I’ve learned about being a unit and helping others to succeed.  We help each other with homework and basketball.

CAST has also taught me how to discipline myself, and helped me to realise who I want to become.”

It was through a conversation with the Clan about cars and carbon dioxide emissions that Njabulo realised he wanted to study engineering, or something related in the science field.  His dream is to one day create his own hydrolic engine.  However his first passion is to study electronics.

As Njabulo explains, “A good scientist first sees a problem, then creates a solution.”

George Mwaura, CAST’s Youth Development Head of Department, was able to connect Njabulo with an opportunity to take a sponsored Electronic Technician diploma course at Intec College.  Njabulo is excited for the opportunity to learn more about electronics.

However, to be able to fully utilise the opportunity, Njabulo needs a used working desktop computer or laptop. CAST believes in empowering resilient youth like Njabulo, who are passionate about achieving their dreams.  If you would like to donate a computer or laptop, contact George Mwaura at: george@cast.org.za or 079 596 7364

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Soccer Boots for All

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Everyone loves buying a new pair of shoes!  In fact, just trying on new shoes can make your day better.

Last month the youth involved with CAST’s soccer teams in Noodsberg and Chibini received their own brand new shoes and socks.  For some of them it was their very first pair of new soccer boots.  CAST was only able to provide this gift through a generous donation from Community Chest.

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Over the last five years, CAST has seen a tremendous growth in the amount of youth involved with our rural soccer teams.  Our biggest challenge has been to provide the teams with soccer boots.  In the past, we relied on second hand donated shoes which were a challenge to find, and therefore most of the players didn’t have proper soccer boots, or played with no boots at all. The majority of the participants come from poor households and could not raise R600 ($44) for a new pair of soccer boots that would actually last more than just a few months.

The teenagers we work with oftentimes have low self-esteem. We have noticed whenever we attend games, coming from a poor community, most players feel embarrassed wearing worn out shoes.  The new soccer boots have boosted their self-esteem as they are able to play comfortably and with pride.  Also, the new soccer boots protect players’ feet from being injured by thorns in the ground.

In CAST’s Youth Development Programme, we believe in empowering youth to become resilient, so they are able to overcome challenges and provide solutions in their own communities.  By building the self-esteem of youth, they are able to stand up and make a positive impact in their communities.

To find out more about how you can impact the life of a young person through CAST, please contact George Mwaura at: george@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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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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Leading By Example

 

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This month as we celebrate the role of women in our lives, as wives, mothers, aunts, sisters, and daughters, let us not forget the role all women can play as mentors in the lives of young girls around us.

Back when CAST first started working in KwaDabeka, one such relationship made a huge impact in the life of a young girl.

Thandeka was a teenager in KwaDabeka, surrounded by few positive female role models she could look up to.  More often than not, women warned her to avoid making the same mistakes they had made as young girls – a negative message of “don’t do this”.

However, one of CAST’s social workers at the time reached out to Thandeka.  The social worker took the time to build a trusting and caring mentoring relationship with her.

As Thandeka explains, “Most of who I am is because of the work she [her mentor] did with CAST.”

Now as a leader in her community, Thandeka takes the time to mentor young girls in KwaDabeka.  She believes in the power of leading by example.

Recently she attended CAST’s first ever girls’ camp, and was excited to see girls exposed to other opportunities.  She believes that when girls have something that occupies their time, gives them purpose and keeps them accountable, such as CAST’s Youth Development Programme, then real change happens.  It is only through these long-term caring relationships that girls can overcome obstacles such as peer pressure.

This month as we take time to celebrate women, let’s lead by example.  You too can make an impact in the life of a young person.  If you would like to mentor an individual in one of the communities where CAST works, please contact Dale Nunes at: dale@cast.org.za