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Triumphant in Christ: Tryphina Mhlanzi’s Story

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Since joining CAST four years ago, Tryphina Mhlanzi, affectionately known as “Mam’Njazi”, has brought life to CAST’s Food Parcel Ministry Days on her visits to our Community Centres in Mariannridge, Lamontville, Noodsberg and Chibini this past year with her passionate and upbeat leading of praise and worship. She is also a participant in CAST’s Business Forum as well as a facilitator for the weekly support group at West City Fellowship, CAST’s partner church in Chesterville, which welcomes ladies from the community and members of the church to come together and build meaningful relationships.

Growing up in Greytown, she came to Durban in the 1980s seeking employment as a domestic worker and worked for several families in Westville. Through one of her employers who attended Westville Truth and Fellowship Church (now West City Fellowship), she was invited to a weekly gathering with other domestic workers during their lunch breaks to listen to the Word.

It was at this gathering, 32 years ago, where Tryphina met Nomakaya Mpambaniso, current Community Co-ordinator for CAST in the Chesterville area, who was also employed as a domestic worker at the time. Their friendship has grown into a deep bond over the years, as they have also served together as foster mothers at Vukukhanye Children’s Home, a transition home established by WCF 12 years ago. Since taking on that position at the home, Tryphina has witnessed the anguish of many abused children that have come into her care, and has felt both joy and sadness in welcoming some and bidding farewell to others.

In her spare time, Tryphina oversees the running of a ‘spaza’ shop started up by her late husband in Marianhill. Participating in CAST’s Local Economic Development programme has taught her useful knowledge and skills in improving her business, particularly in branding, book-keeping and networking. Most valuable, though, has been learning the importance of keeping God at the centre of her business practice, “because we cannot do anything without God,” she says.

Although Tryphina takes comfort in having a strong relationship with God, she shares that this was not always the case, particularly when she was younger.

“People in my community talked about church, but they didn’t talk about God. To be a Christian is not about going to the building, it’s about having a relationship with God” she says.

As a single mother of two daughters, she has found herself having to rely on God more and more to get by. Her husband suffered a long-term illness and passed away 12 years ago. Her elder daughter, Mbali, a qualified journalist, is an active leader serving in the youth ministry of the church, but is currently unable to find full-time employment. Tryphina’s younger daughter, Tracy, a past participant in CAST’s Youth Development programme is diligently working towards attaining a degree in Teaching.

Tryphina’s message to those that she ministers to is one of hope and encouragement to use what God has given them by taking every opportunity to improve their circumstances and ultimately move out of poverty, without shame. She readily shares her testimony and motivates people to also inspire others with what God has been doing in their lives. “To have a challenging life,” she says, “is to know that God is using me. That’s where I find boldness.”

Building supportive relationships with those we serve in our communities is at the centre of our mission in helping them to know God and move out of financial and spiritual poverty. To be a part of this ministry in any of the 10 sites in which we operate, contact Head of Relief Services Sandy Reid at: sandy@cast.org.za or call (031) 266 8830.

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Faith like [Sweet] Potatoes: Philisiwe Sithole’s Story

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Married mother of two, Philisiwe Sithole, has big dreams for her gardening and recycling project at her home in Chesterville. “God gave me a passion for growing my own food,” she says.

She and her family moved from Sherwood to Chesterville two years ago. Though challenged by limited space at her previous home, she explored container gardening using 2-litre plastic bottles and ‘grow bags’ to grow spinach and chillies.

Now, Philisiwe makes use of cardboard materials such as toilet rolls and egg trays for compost in her outdoor garden. Philisiwe is determined to grow her produce organically, with no chemicals.

Not long ago, she harvested a large mielie (corn) plantation and grew many other crops which helped to sustain her family and share with neighbours. Philisiwe laments that she did not have the knowledge or resources to sustain that level of growth. Her yard now sits bare and weed-infested, save for the recently planted patch of sweet potatoes.

“People don’t believe that you can do gardening here. They think you can only do it on a farm. I see the possibilities of gardening here.”

Philisiwe spotted the potential of a section of vacant land close to her backyard where community members were dumping waste. She has since applied for and been granted permission by the Local Councillor to use it for a vegetable garden, which she has now cleared up and used to plant butter beans. Philisiwe plans to grow chillies, garlic and green peppers as there are no other vendors selling those nearby, which would make her a sole supplier for the high demand of these agricultural products.

Philisiwe works with an elderly woman in her community, Mam Mavis. In October 2018, she entered a traditional food competition run by the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development using the vegetables from her garden and took first place, winning cooking appliances.

Personally, Philisiwe’s family receives an income through a government grant for child support, piece jobs that her husband does, as well as money from renting out their home in Sherwood.

Since moving to Chesterville, she joined West City Fellowship, CAST’s partner church in the area, and first heard about CAST when they announced the Business Course. Philisiwe also currently volunteers as a tutor in the Word Works Early Literacy programme facilitated by CAST at HP Ngwenya Primary School.

She has completed the second module of the Paradigm Shift Business Growth Course where she has learnt more about marketing and the importance of knowing God as you are running your business.

For Philisiwe and her family, West City Fellowship has been the first church where she feels their personal and spiritual needs are met holistically. Having a relationship with the church leaders has given her a safe space to share her experiences, personal problems and feel supported. She reflects on the improvement in her personal life, as well as in her children.

In order to start up and develop her business, Philisiwe needs a business plan and mentorship in gardening to ensure sustainability and consistency and looks forward to getting in touch with those who have the skills to teach her more about gardening.

This year, Philisiwe hopes to attend “Farming God’s Way”, a 7-day in-field mentoring course taking place in October aimed at teaching practical skills in agriculture in poor communities. The cost of the course is R2500, which includes meals and accommodation.

If you are keen to contribute to the cost of Philisiwe’s training or share expertise in agriculture and business, contact CAST on (031) 266 8830 or e-mail head of Local Economic Development, Janet Okoye, at: janet@cast.org.za

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Saving Grace: Ali’s Story

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Young entrepreneur, Ali Adan from Kiamaiko in Nairobi, Kenya has found great success since completing the Business Courses offered by CAST in 2018. At just twenty years of age, he had already established his own butchery selling goat meat, earning up to 500 Kenyan Shillings (R62,50) a day, but admits that he would spend his money carelessly, without proper budgeting or financial planning. “As the day ended I could not account for the money,” he says. “I had nothing in my pocket.”

This changed when he heard the announcement about the course at CAST’s partner church in Huruma, Evangelical Victory Church. Eager to improve his business skills, he signed up for the course and learned valuable lessons which have made a significant difference in his life, professionally and personally.

“Firstly, I have learnt the importance of saving. Before I joined CAST, I never saved. I am proud to say that I have some money in my account now.  Secondly, I learnt to manage my time well. Thirdly, I learnt to be polite and respectful to my customers. And lastly, I have also learnt to appreciate my customers by giving discounts and incentives.  These are my top four key lessons that CAST has empowered me with among many other business skills.”

He adds that through the course, he learnt to run an honest business that honours God.  “I was challenged to read my Bible every day and memorize scriptures,” he says. “I have actually done further studies to understand the mystery of the Trinity.” Ali is an active member of his church as a cell group leader that meets twice a week for Bible Study.

Having grown up in the farmlands outside Nairobi City, where most of his family still live, Ali has big dreams for the future: “I would like to be a successful leader in Ministry, specifically in Youth Ministry, and secondly, an international business entrepreneur with my head office in London!”

To make this possible, Ali plans to work hard in his business, save money well, invest money wisely to expand and lastly, “pray to God to give [him] wisdom and strength to accomplish all these.”

If you would like to help make a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs like Ali, contact CAST on (031) 266 8830 or email: info@cast.org.za or you may contact Joseph Bode, the Nairobi Area Manager at joseph@cast.org.za.

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Getting Down to Business: Lebohang’s Story

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At just twenty-years-old, Lebohang Gaula is already a thriving businessman. It all began in August last year, when he spotted a CAST flyer at a local shop in KwaDabeka and jumped at the opportunity to join the business programme.

Over the course of 3 months, he successfully completed the Business Experience Course and Business Growth Course. Using what he learnt, he set about starting his own business.

Like many of the youth in his community, he faced challenges in his home life that made him vulnerable to a life of crime and alcohol abuse. But Lebohang was determined not to go down this path. Straight out of school, he tried making money through selling CDs and taking piece jobs, but this did not offer any stability.

Through the programme, he learnt how to put together a business plan, bookkeeping, and marketing. “If you want to be a businessman,” he says, “you must think like one. You must find solutions.”

Lebohang saw a gap in the market for a cleaning company and again, grabbed the opportunity to learn chemical manufacturing through an advertisement in the newspaper. He used the little money he had to pay for the course and was soon mixing his own cleaning products, and registered his brand, “Gaula Cleaning Products.”

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Lebohang currently runs the business from his home in KwaDabeka. He is steadily working towards opening an office in Pinetown and plans to expand his business into a full cleaning service for residential, commercial, as well as public premises.

Lebohang is grateful for his time in the business programme saying, “CAST taught me how to have courage and be a go-getter.” He also feels that, through the spiritual nurturing of his mentors, he now has a closer relationship with God.

When asked about his long-term goal, Lebohang says: “I want to change my community. I want to help them become better people, especially the youth.”

Mentoring entrepreneurs in our communities like Lebohang can make a world of difference in shaping their future success. To get involved, contact Janet Okoye at: janet@cast.org.za or (031) 266 8830.

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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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Joyce’s Story

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Joyce’s Story

By Rolan Gulston 

Fifty-four year old Joyce Mukuya of Mariannridge has gained a new lease on life since becoming involved with CAST late last year. As a member of the Apostolic Church, Joyce recalls a frightening encounter with ‘Madlozi’, a spirit believed in Traditional Zulu African culture to be a sign or calling to become a sangoma. Joyce turned to her pastor who, together with members of her church, prayed over her for protection. Shortly after this, Joyce dreamt of her late mother, calling her to pray and continue going to church.

As a widow, and mother of three children, two of whom are unemployed with children of their own, Joyce has suffered financial struggles since her ex-husband’s passing caused by a stroke at the age of 58. Joyce has also had health problems of her own. She spent three weeks in hospital after suffering a mild stroke. She currently lives with ongoing heart problems and battles with arthritis. A few years prior, she was involved in treating a young boy in her area who was stabbed several times, and, in doing so, contracted HIV. Joyce did not receive any form of counselling after this incident. The social grant she receives from the government has been her main source of income.

For four years, her family lived without electricity due to unpaid electricity bills, and had to go through the task of collecting water and carrying it to their home. Through the generosity of a member of her community, their bill of R4900 was settled, and electricity restored.

Her daughter, Candy, aged 22, mother of 2 toddlers, earns some money from hair styling, cooking and sewing. Her son, Ian, 39 has experience with electrical work, vehicle mechanics and security services, but his problem with drug abuse has thwarted his opportunities for employment. Joyce has two other children, a daughter living in Shongweni and a son in Cape Town who do not offer any means of support.

Joyce heard about the Relief Services that CAST administers in the Mariannridge community, and got in touch with the Community Co-ordinator, Ralph Williams. She now receives a monthly food parcel and is able to earn additional income through door-to-door sales of clothing supplied by CAST. Her daughter, Candy has also found a new avenue to earn money from her talent for sewing through CAST’s Business Development programme, which has sold her handmade goods locally to visiting mission teams from the USA. Both Joyce and Candy are also a part of the Savings Club, a new branch of the Business Development Programme which aims to develop the practise of saving and investing in business ideas.

Since recommitting her life to Christ this year, and becoming involved with CAST, Joyce has managed to overcome a long-time drinking problem and now has renewed hope for the future. Going forward, she would greatly appreciate help with getting a new sewing machine to increase her family’s earning potential.

If you would like to donate a sewing machine towards Joyce’s family, please contact Sandy at: sandy@cast.org.za or 031 266 8830

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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