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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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Shooting for the Stars: Bryan’s Story

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On his way home from school one day, 14-year-old Samkelo Bryan Cele, learnt something that would change his life. Being tall in stature, a friend invited him to join the CAST Basketball team that trained at KwaDabeka Baptist church. Without any former knowledge of the sport, or the right kit, Bryan went to check it out.

At first, it was tough. The other boys had skills and experience that far outweighed young Bryan playing in a pair of construction boots. Growing up as the eldest son in a family of seven with a single parent, Bryan faced scrutiny for investing so much of his time into basketball, especially since soccer was the more popular sport in his community. With the added sorrow of his grandfather’s passing, he stopped playing for a year.

Despite not being a part of the team, CAST had become a “home away from home” for Bryan – a safe space away from the dangers of peer pressure where he learnt about brotherhood, and what it meant to have a personal relationship with God in daily life as the boys would pray before and after each training session.

He started playing again in grade 9, this time, with a strong determination to improve his skills. As part of CAST’s focus on youth development, our mentoring programme seeks to break the cycle of fatherlessness in the communities by connecting young people with role models. Our goal is not that mentors would solve all their mentees’ problems, but rather that mentors would empower their mentees to solve their own problems. From equipping Bryan with his very first pair of trainers to sponsoring a trip to attend a basketball camp in Serbia, Bryan was blessed to have the mentorship of Mike Cox, a member of Westville Baptist Church, who whole-heartedly invested in Bryan’s future.

As the years went by, Bryan steadily got better and better. His talent drew the attention of selectors at regional tournaments, and he was subsequently offered a scholarship to attend Durban High School. His vision broadened as he began to see the many doors that had opened for him to opportunities that someone from ‘the hood’ would not ordinarily have access to.  One such opportunity was being selected to attend the aforementioned basketball training camp in Serbia, as well as in the USA where Bryan was awarded the title of ‘Most Valuable Player’.

Bryan is now in his second year at The University of Oklahoma, USA where he was awarded a scholarship to play basketball and is academically pursuing a degree in Business Law. Once qualified, his dream is to use his entrepreneurial skills to build a support structure for those from a similar background with limited opportunities. “Basketball was my out,” he says.

“I know I’m not the only one who can do it. They need God, hope and motivation.”

Bryan is deeply grateful for the generosity of donors and the support of CAST mentors and coaches, through which, God has worked to transform Bryan’s life. His advice to those who aspire to achieve the same goal is simple: “Believe. Work. And pray.”

If you would like to help make this dream a reality for more youth in our communities, contact George on 031 266 8830 or email george@cast.org.za.

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Coach Bongani

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Coach Bongani (far right) with some of his team at Sithokozile High School in KwaDabeka

By Rolan Gulston

Originally from Harrismith, 25-year-old Bongani Tshabalala has made a home in the community of KwaDabeka, a township situated just east of Pinetown. Since joining CAST as a volunteer soccer coach last year, he now feels fully invested in the development of the youth in the community.

Growing up with an older brother and two younger siblings, Bongani sought to become independent from an early age. While he spent much of his time at the gym training for the game that he loves, he did not see playing soccer as being a long-term career. Instead, he focussed on education, and encourages his boys to do the same.

Bongani has been studying mechanics since October last year. He shares that, as a youngster, he was not always diligent in his studies and often influenced his friends to take up drinking, smoking and dating to fit in with his social circle. Even attending church was something he did only to please his mother. This changed when he turned 21, as he began to appreciate his faith and attend church regularly without being pushed. As he got older and strengthened his relationship with God, he realised that the only person he can compete with is himself. He now attends KwaDabeka Baptist Church, and plays an active role in the Youth Ministry.

He first heard about CAST through a friend last year after living with his brother in Joburg for a year and half. The community centre in KwaDabeka was looking for a soccer coach, and he immediately jumped on board, but what he found was a deep lack of motivation in the team.

Gradually, through implementing the uBabalo Whole-life Coaching Programme, the boys have developed a close bond, and have learnt the value of supporting each other, “Because when you are playing soccer, you’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing as a team.”

Under his coaching, the boys won their first 10 games, and are now placed in the Pinetown League. Bongani believes in pushing the boys beyond their perceived level of capability by organising for his teams to play matches against older age groups as a way of helping them to adapt and gain experience. “God is here and anything is possible,” he tells them.

The team is steadily growing in number as the word spreads. The Under-15 and Under-17 boys train together three days a week. As part of the uBabalo programme, the team spends time reflecting on scripture before each training session, and many of the boys have shown great spiritual growth.

“God is always there. He is always watching you. I know it’s not going to be easy, but if you work hard, it won’t go away. If it’s easy, it won’t last.”

Bongani tries to always be an encouraging voice for the team, “I have never disgraced them. I tell them they should believe in themselves and trust each other. When I’m sharing myself, I am healing too.” His supportive, yet disciplined approach to coaching and mentoring has endeared him to the boys, who often tell him, “You are part of the family, you are always open.”

This year was his first time attending the annual boys2Men Camp. As a leader at the camp and in his community, Bongani took this time to mentor the young boys in the group of 60 that were selected to attend the camp. It also gave the boys a chance to talk about the things affecting them. He helped them to recognize bad influences in their lives, whether it be the people in their social circles or even the music they listen to. After sharing his testimony, he also taught them about making wise choices, not giving in to peer pressure, and rather than trying to change their friends immediately, start by telling them about the camp and share Bible verses with them.

Bongani found that previously, when selecting a captain, the boys would often choose the loudest player in the team but, lacking in respect for others. He soon drew out the quieter boys who showed leadership potential, and once placed in captaincy, began to change the mind-set of the team; leading by example in their dedication to the sport and their school work. Others have since also improved in their school results, and with Bongani’s guidance, have been applying for bursaries for tertiary education. He has also made time to help them form a study group for Maths and Science.

Between studying, training at the gym and playing matches, soccer keeps the boys busy. “They are no longer bored.” Bongani, too, feels that he has changed. For the past year, he has abstained from drinking and smoking.

“You should accept the way you are, and change the way you do things. Just having fun and buying lots of clothes won’t take you anywhere. Only education. God will provide everything later on.”

Bongani has a passion for youth development, especially empowering the young boys entering adolescence. Bongani’s dream is to empower them to become self-sufficient, productive members of their community. He, himself, has tried to set an example of this by seeing to his own groceries and rent of R550 a month. May was a particularly difficult month for Bongani, without money to afford food and basic necessities, but he still committed himself to training at the gym with the boys. He now receives a monthly food parcel from CAST’s Relief Services, which has been a great help. He hopes to one day have the means to support the boys in buying their soccer boots and kit. “I know I’ll accomplish that, but I know the path won’t be easy.”

Bongani would like to continue coaching, as he feels he is gaining a lot of experience, especially when working with the younger boys. “It’s something different, I am adapting.” To support Bongani in his mission to empower the youth, contact George at CAST on: 031 266 8830 or george@cast.org.za

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Dudu’s Story

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Dudu’s Story

By Rolan Gulston

In 2005, at the age of 42, Dudu Hlongwane was one of only two survivors in a fatal taxi accident. After spending six months at a rehabilitation centre, Dudu was diagnosed with a T-12 level spinal injury which has left her paralysed from the waist-down.

While in recovery, Dudu was counselled by a psychologist, who helped her to come to terms with what had happened. Through this, Dudu held to her belief that when she returned home, “God would help [her].” Unfortunately, her return came with many challenges. As a single mother, she had to rely on her elderly mother for support in caring for her two young sons, the older of whom began acting out in response to the trauma of his mother’s accident.

In 2009, they moved into an RDP house in KwaDabeka, which was modified to include a driveway to accommodate Dudu’s wheelchair. Before the accident, Dudu had been working for 19 years as a machinist at the Playtex factory in Durban. When she left, Dudu used her retirement payout to renovate their house by extending the rooms and widening some of the doorways. She is unable to afford to renovate her bathroom which she has never been able to use due to lack of accessibility. Her current wheelchair also brings her great discomfort in that it is too big and does not provide adequate support for her feet.

In 2013, Dudu got in touch with CAST’s KwaDabeka Community Co-ordinator, who received her into the food parcel programme. Travelling 5km to collect her monthly food parcel at the Community Centre at KwaDabeka Baptist Church proved to be quite difficult, so the food parcels are now delivered to her home by CAST’s Relief Services HOD.

While it is difficult for Dudu to live without the physical freedom she once had, she says that “…it is God who helps [her] to get up every day.” With the right equipment and material, Dudu is keen to make use of her skills and experience as a sewing machinist.

This Sunday is CAST Food Parcel Sunday at Westville Baptist Church.  For R200 ($15.50), you can sponsor a food parcel for a local family in need. The food parcels can feed a family of 4 for 2 weeks.  For more information on how you can empower community members like Dudu, please see Sandy Reid at the ministry desk, or contact her at 031 266 8830 / sandy@cast.org.za

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Ntombikhona’s Story

IMG_0302Every month, Ntombikhona walks over six kilometres to attend CAST’s Ministry Day in KwaDabeka and collect her CAST food parcel.

She first heard about CAST when she was trying to enroll her daughter at Sithokozile High School in KwaDabeka.  At the time, she had three other children in school and could not afford to pay her daughter’s school fees. Through CAST’s social worker, Ntombikhona was able to receive a school fee exemption for her daughter.                                              

CAST also sponsored her daughter’s school uniform and shoes.  As a result, her daughter was able to finish Matric.  Ntombikhona’s dream is for her children to pursue their education and for them to have a relationship with God.

Ntombikhona is also an avid netball player and volunteered to help Sibongile (a fellow food parcel recipient) coach the CAST’s girls’ netball team in KwaDabeka after doing the Poverty Stoplight Survey.

For R200 ($15), you can sponsor a food parcel to a local family in need.  CAST’s Relief Services are intended as a first step towards empowering these households and it is our aim to only have them on the food parcel programme for one year.  This is made possible by offering a holistic solution within CAST where families can be supported by the local church through other CAST development programmes.

For more information about how to donate and get involved, please contact Sandy Reid at:  031 266 8830 or sandy@cast.org.za

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Remembering Ernie

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CAST Sunday at Noodsberg Baptist Church, 2013.  From left to right, Bongani Mkhize (CAST Noodsberg Area Co-ordiantor), Ernie Calder, Pastor Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt (CAST Executive Director), Pastor Ephraim Mzobe (Noodsberg Baptist), Debbie Calder

Often we think that “social transformation” is all about big events, speeches and important people. But in reality change happens gradually through many, many seemingly insignificant conversations, friendships and acts of love.  It is these consistent, daily acts of love that make an eternal impact in the Kingdom of God. About thirteen years ago, two volunteers began to reach across the economic and cultural divide and develop friendships with people and churches in Noodsberg and KwaDabeka.

Year after year Ernie and Debbie Calder delivered food parcels, driving their bakkie out as far as Noodsberg (90 minutes away) every month, providing hundreds of thousands of meals every year.

But it was never only about the food, deep and lasting friendships developed between the Calders and members of these communities. Over time these relationships evolved into training programmes and food gardens. These were the beginning of CAST’s programmes in these communities. As CAST ministries spread out from Noodsberg into the surrounding areas of Appelsbosch and Chibini so the legacy of the Calders grew with them – now serving almost 2000 people every month in these communities, through nutritional support, educational programmes, children’s ministry, and the development of farming and business.

Last year Ernie celebrated his 80th birthday, but Debbie and Ernie continued to serve as core volunteers with CAST right up until the end of 2016.

Last week, the CAST team were deeply saddened to hear that Ernie had gone to be with the Lord on Monday after a seven hour heart operation. While the CAST team is heartbroken, we will always remember his humble, serving spirit, genuine love of others and concern for our neighbouring communities.  Debbie is also in our prayers.

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Hands Up for Christmas In Action

 

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For CAST, December has been all about celebrating children and the gift of Christmas.  Thanks to all the generous donations we received, CAST was able to give a toy to every child on our food parcel programme.  This may be the only Christmas gift some of the children receive, so thank you for making a difference!

In both Chibini and KwaDabeka, CAST partnered with the local church to host a Christmas party and lunch for the children.  This was not only to give out the toys, but also to award the children’s academic achievement and participation in CAST’s programmes.  We believe it is important to celebrate children by communicating that they are valued and loved by God.  This may be the only opportunity they have to hear the Gospel and understand their worth in Christ.

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The Toy Drive may be over, but Hands Up for Christmas is not!  CAST is a little over halfway to our goal of sponsoring 1000 food parcels for 2017.  If you are still looking for a last minute Christmas gift and don’t want to deal the madness of Christmas shopping, CAST’s Christmas snowflake decoration is the answer.  For R200 ($14) you can sponsor a food parcel in someone’s name and receive a snowflake Christmas tree decoration.  This will remind them of the family they blessed this Christmas season.

You can give directly online here:

https://www.givengain.com/cause/4933/campaigns/17462/

For more information contact Laura Mbugua-Mwaura at: laura@cast.org.za