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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

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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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Buckets of Hope

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Last week CAST had the opportunity to partner with Baptist Global Response to provide hospice buckets for bedridden community members in KwaDabeka and Chesterville.

Baptist Global Response is a global Southern Baptist relief and development organisation with a heart for helping the poor and suffering to have the opportunity to experience a full and meaningful life.  One of the ways they do this is through hospice buckets, which provide basic resources (such as bedding, straws, gloves, etc.) to assist caregivers in providing the best possible care for bedridden individuals.

Americans pack the buckets in the States, and the buckets are then shipped all over Africa to countries where Baptist Global Response works.  Every bucket is prayed over, specifically for the family that will receive it.

The goal of the hospice buckets is to not only provide dignity for those who are sick or disabled, but to also open a door for the gospel to be shared.  Laura O’Loughlin of Baptist Global Response shared just how to do that at CAST’s Community Centres in KwaDabeka and Chesterville.  Community volunteers were trained on how to use the bucket, and given practical tools on how to share the love of Christ with those who receive the bucket.

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To find out more about the Bucket Project, check out: https://www.facebook.com/BGRHospiceKits/about/