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Hope for the Future: Judith’s Story

By Rolan Gulston

cast-judith-volunteer-hope-mariannridge01Since joining CAST as a programme participant two years ago, 31-year-old Judith Abrams has made a valuable impact in giving back to her community as a volunteer for CAST’s Child Literacy and Youth Development programmes.

Judith came to know CAST through a friend who worked at the Mariannridge CAST Community Centre assisting in the facilitation of programmes. She then signed up to participate in the Business Experience and Business Growth courses to learn how she could improve her own small business of selling cooked food from home, which she has been running for the past 2 years.

After successfully completing the course and graduating in 2018, Judith felt a renewed passion to expand her business, which she co-runs with her sister. Firstly, by registering her enterprise, “Judith’s Fast Food”, and then applying to the Local Councillor for permission to operate at the community taxi rank, the busiest spot in the area. Her long-term goal is to invest her profits into starting a franchise.

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Since learning these new skills, Judith feels a greater sense of self-belief and hope for the future. She looks forward to joining CAST’s sewing team in Mariannridge and would like to learn how to make evening attire, as there is a big market for Matric dance outfits in her community. Judith also dreams of pursuing a career in nursing, particularly in paediatrics, as she feels called to work with children.

This love of children drew her to volunteering with CAST as a tutor for the Word Works Early Literacy programme for Grade One’s, as well as facilitating the Resilience Life Orientation programme for the Grade Six learners at Mariannridge Primary School, a stone’s throw away from the CAST Community Centre.

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Learning how to teach Foundational Literacy using the Word Works material has helped Judith beyond the classroom in assisting her son who experiences learning difficulties due to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She has developed a greater understanding of his cognitive-developmental level and has learnt how to be more patient with him.

The Resilience programme forms part of the national Life Orientation school curriculum, guiding children in the pre-teen age group to make ‘smart moves’ and work towards achieving their goals. Mentoring the children in this programme has created the space for Judith to form strong, supportive relationships with the youth in her community.

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The programme has helped Judith to “become one with the children in the community. They open up more,” she says. Having a 12-year-old daughter herself, Judith enjoys mentoring this age group as they move into their teen years and need more guidance through the many changes in their development, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Two children that Judith has worked with, in particular, have made great strides in improving their behaviour. One, a young boy bullied about his weight, who, in turn, started bullying others, has since stopped picking fights at school. Another, a young girl who turned to alcohol to cope with personal difficulties, invited Judith to join her family Sunday lunch and has been encouraged by Judith to make better choices.

Growing up in challenging circumstances, Judith knows first-hand the undue strain that these children experience when they are forced to grow up too quickly and take on adult responsibilities at home, often turning to harmful substances to alleviate the pressure. Her family did not have a steady income, and she suffered through an abusive relationship with her aunt. Other than her sister whom she currently lives with, Judith has little family support – her mother having passed away when she was younger, and her father remarrying and moved away. The father of Judith’s two children died tragically in a motorcycle accident.

Becoming a mother gave Judith the strength to stand up for herself and move past the pain. She has since made peace with the aunt who raised her and continues to pray for her. Being part of a strong spiritual community at a church in Mariannridge also helps Judith to feel supported and make positive changes in her life.

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Judith believes that there is hope, too, for the youth in her community. The key, she says, is “to stand together, and show them that we care.” Spending time consistently engaging with children and youth in the programmes have shown to have a significant positive impact on their development. If you would like to get involved in mentoring or tutoring in one of CAST’s target communities, contact us at: info@cast.org.za or call (+27) 31 266 8830 for more information.

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Moving Beyond Charity: Making a Spiritual Impact

During the past month, CAST has witnessed tremendous spiritual growth in the lives of our participants, both through special events and regular programming.

Holiday Clubs

During the October school holidays, CAST had the opportunity to partner with two local churches, Joy Chapel Ministries in Mariannridge and Lamontville Baptist Church, to host holiday clubs in these areas.  The clubs provided a unique opportunity for CAST to assist the local church in providing a few days of fun, faith and fellowship in a safe place for children within the community during the school holidays.

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In Mariannridge, 80 children aged 4-14 years old attended the holiday club.  For this event, CAST was able to partner with the Mariannridge International Citizen Service (ICS) Team, which is a programme offered by Tearfund and Zoe-Life that brings together volunteers from South Africa and the United Kingdom to work alongside local organisations in projects aimed at helping children in vulnerable communities to become more confident and skilled in order to inspire hope in their communities.  The ICS team worked alongside CAST staff and volunteers to ensure children were cared for and experienced the love of Jesus.  After working in this community for several months, the ICS team has seen the damaging impact of crime, alcohol and substance abuse on families in Mariannridge.  However, the team also experienced the power of reaffirming Christianity and spirituality in the lives of children during the holiday club when 60 children gave their lives to Christ.  The Lamontville holiday club had similar success, with 178 children attending.

Boys2Men Camp

Also during October, CAST hosted our eighth annual boys2Men camp.  Sixty-nine young boys (Grades 8-11) were selected from CAST’s youth programmes to attend camp.  The camp was facilitated by thirteen leaders currently involved in CAST’s Sport & Youth Development programmes in each community.

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This year’s camp theme was centred on “Abiding in Christ”, taken from the passage in John 15:4-5.  The boys were encouraged to experience God through worship, prayer and quiet time in God’s Word.  In response to an open invitation to accept Christ, 35 boys made first-time commitments to follow Jesus.

In the past few weeks following boys2Men camp, CAST has been able to follow up with the boys in each community regarding their spiritual journey.  The question everyone is asking each other is “Are you abiding?”

Below is a testimony from a camp leader:

Coach Bongani Tshabalala attended the recent boys2Men camp for the first time this year, where young men from local township communities came together to learn what it means to be resilient and walk together in their spiritual journeys.

As a facilitator at the camp and in his community of KwaDabeka, Bongani actively encourages the youth to develop their relationship with God, “Because He is the one that is always there for you.” Through implementing the uBabalo programme in his soccer coaching, he has seen how ongoing mentorship and support has positively impacted the young boys’ lives. Since beginning the programme last year, the boys now occupy themselves with training, playing soccer matches, attending church and meeting as a study group. 

Bongani’s dream is for the boys to grow spiritually and learn to be self-sufficient, productive members of their community.  

Food Parcel Ministry

At the end of October, CAST’s food parcel recipients also experienced what can only be described as a spiritual revival.  Each month CAST’s Relief Services HOD and Community Co-ordinators organise Ministry Days for the food parcel recipients.  At the Ministry Days, recipients not only receive their food parcels but are also encouraged to use their God-given skills and talents to lift themselves out of poverty.  Every month when CAST has Ministry Days, we faithfully pray that God will transform the lives of food parcel recipients, heal families, and provide for their needs. This month, CAST had the privilege of having guest speaker Tryphena, from Vukukanye Children’s Home, lead devotions at Ministry Days. Thirty-eight food parcel recipients came to know Jesus and committed their lives to Him. God’s spirit was very present, working in the hearts of those we serve! 

22730380_1464772373611468_6368805972482206700_n22730485_1464772400278132_2685624964510935931_nHere are some ways you can join CAST in praying for programme participants:

Holiday Clubs

  • Pray for Joy Chapel Ministries and Lamontville Baptist Church as they continue to disciple children in the community who made first-time commitments to Christ.
  • Pray for the children who attended holiday club, that they will continue to experience the love of Jesus.

Boys2Men Camp

  • Pray that the boys will continue to abide in Christ, spending time with Him through prayer, worship and devotions.
  • Pray for CAST’s community leaders as they continue to mentor these young men in CAST’s ongoing Sport and Youth Development programmes.
  • Pray for volunteers that are able to disciple the boys on a regular basis.

Food Parcel Programme

  • Pray for CAST’s Relief Services HOD and Community Co-ordinators as they provide support to food parcel recipients in reaching their individual and family goals. Pray that God will provide for the food parcel recipients and their families.
  • Pray that the food parcel recipients and their families will grow in their walk with the Lord.
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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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Mariannridge Pastors Dialogue

dsc_0283dsc_0303Recently Rev. Wayne Thring of Joy Chapel Ministries in Mariannridge hosted a Pastors Dialogue Event in partnership with CAST, Mariann Co-ordinating Committee (MCC) and the Ministers’ Fraternal.  CAST had the chance to ask Rev. Thring a few questions about local church involvement in his community:

Q:  Can you explain the purpose of the Pastors Dialogue and how the idea for it came about?

A:  Jenny Boyce from MCC visited the Ministers’ Fraternal, and expressed her concerns about the many challenges facing the community. She asked the question: “Who is leading?” The Pastors then agreed that we need a collaborated effort, meeting to help address the challenges. This effort would be led by the Fraternal, CAST, and MCC.

Q:  What churches and/or organisations were represented?

A:  Joy Chapel Ministries, Assemblies of God, Pinetown Christian Fellowship, Evangelical Bible Church, Hope Family, Christian Assemblies, Kingdom Life Ministries, Methodist Church, Catholic and Anglican Churches, African Christian Democratic Party, ANC, CAST, MCC, Community Police Forum, SAPS & Democracy Development Centre

Q:  What was the end result of the dialogue?

A:  It was realised that most organisations were working in silos, doing good work. What was needed was relationship building to break down walls that exist. A commitment to work together for the benefit of the community was established. The next meeting would flesh out how this could be achieved.

Q:  What are the current challenges that your church and community are facing?

A:  Over 50% unemployment, crime, much of which is related to drug abuse. Overcrowding in the flatted area, lack of housing and poor education levels.

Q:  What do you believe is the biggest strength of Joy Chapel?

A:  Unity among the leadership.

Q:  How can we best pray for Joy Chapel, and especially for you and the church leadership?

A:  Pray that we would be able to extend our reach, into our community and beyond.  Pray for the needed resources locally and for our church plant in KwaXimba.  Pray for our leadership. Some are moving to Johannesburg for work and family reasons.  Pray for wisdom, strength and skill sets to accomplish our goals.

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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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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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Helping the Family Business

 

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Meet Jocelyn (on the far right), a CAST Business Forum Trainer in Mariannridge.  She decided to get involved with the CAST “family business” as we like to call it, to make an impact in a community she is well-acquainted with.

Q: How did you hear about CAST & the Business Forum?

A: I heard about CAST via Westville Baptist Church and the signup day they had in 2015.

Q: What made you want to give back in Mariannridge?

A: I chose Mariannridge as it has a special place in my heart as my grandparents lived there until their passing on. We visited there most Sundays as my grandmothers house was the gathering place for the aunts/uncles and the many cousins. I felt led to give back and work within this community to honour my grandparents and help build up this community.

Q: What have you learned from being involved with the Business Forum?

A: I experienced growth in confidence and facilitator training skills via leading trainer sessions. I also experienced tremendous growth spiritually via increased knowledge of the Bible and sharing the Word and experiences during the biblical sessions.

Q: What advice would you give others who are interested in volunteering with the Business Forum?

A: My advice would be for volunteers to come with an open mind and be prepared to give as well as receive during the training sessions. Patience will also be required (traffic, delayed starts, later finishes -sometimes only to allow the participants all a chance to share).

Q: What do you enjoy most about Business Forum?

A: There were quite a few enjoyable moments through out the weekly sessions: the role plays brought lots of laughter, the competitive atmosphere during the selling/promoting sessions and quiz sessions. The best/most important part enjoyed was the graduation ceremony where I felt tremendous joy and pride witnessing the participants I had worked with over the weeks graduate and to share in their excitement and joy of completing the course!

If you would like to make an impact like Jocelyn and join the family business, make sure to contact Stuart at: stuart@cast.org.za to hear more about CAST’s Business Development volunteer opportunities.