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Early Literacy Graduation 2019

We are so proud of the learners in our Early Literacy programme for showing a remarkable improvement in their reading and writing skills this year!

5 years ago, we were called to partner with a local organization, Wordworks to help build a brighter future for those children in our communities who need extra assistance at school in the foundation phase.

We are ever-grateful to our generous donors and faithful volunteers who have made this possible by reaching out to make a lasting difference in these young lives.

For more information on how you can get involved, contact us at: info@cast.org.za or call (031) 266 8830.

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A Light on the Path: Lynette Pather’s story

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Lynette Pather is an experienced youth leader in the community of Phoenix in Durban, South Africa and has dedicated herself to helping the children and youth in her area through CAST’s Reading Intervention Programme for Grade 3s, and Life Skills Resilience Programme for Grade 7s.

She first joined CAST as a volunteer in 2017 when a pastor from Cornerstone Community Church went door-to-door around the neighbourhood to speak to youth and Sunday School teachers about the programmes that CAST was planning to implement in partnership with the Church.

Lynette then attended the training to become a facilitator for the programmes which she now volunteers for 3 times a week and is always willing to assist CAST when needed.

The reading intervention programme is aimed at helping children who did not receive adequate assistance at foundation phase to improve their skills in reading and comprehension at the appropriate level. Lynette assists a group of 10 learners and describes this as a trouble-free class.

The Resilience classes, however, pose more of a challenge for the facilitators. Lynette describes the Grade 7 learners, aged 12 – 13, as going through a transition phase into their teenage years, and find themselves unsure of how to deal with uncomfortable feelings and emotions when certain topics are raised. Some even become defensive and disruptive or begin making jokes to detract from serious subjects.

With an average of 40 children per class, it is not easy to manage. The facilitators, fortunately, have the support of the school but avoid disciplining the children, and instead, try to adopt a “love of Christ” approach towards unruly learners. Lynette believes the root of this behaviour is due to the prevalence of single-parent households or those with absent parents in the community and has seen how children as young as those she teaches are forced to take on the responsibility of parenting their younger siblings. Many of these single-parent households do not receive support due to the shame and stigma of being a ‘broken’ family. “We have to give honour to [single parents] instead of looking down on them,” she says.

Since the programme was implemented, Lynette has noticed a positive difference in the behaviour of learners that participated last year who now push themselves to attain good school marks in order to qualify for university. “They are more self-motivated, centred, and know that only they can make the decision to get out of the cycle of poverty,” she says.

Although the programme does not allow for the facilitators to share Christian teachings, as the learners of the school are religiously-diverse, they still offer encouragement and support to equip the learners with information to pursue further studies at tertiary level. Her dream for the children in the community is for them to “see the bigger picture.”

Lynette, herself, comes from a strong Christian family who founded and pastor Fountain of Hope Christian Centre in Phoenix. As a qualified Christian Counsellor with a diploma from the Logos Bible School, her many years of experience in youth ministry has grown her passion for serving the younger generation. Her advice to other leaders of young people is to “never give up until that person can see what God has for them, especially if you see a child with potential. Take that child’s dream, put it into your spirit, pray, and make it a reality.”

“I want to help the youth see the world differently,” she says. “There are so many opportunities. The world is for you.”

If you are keen to support these programmes or commit to tutoring and mentoring young people in our communities, contact CAST at info@cast.org.za or call (+27)31 266 8830.

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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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Early Literacy Volunteers Needed

20160728-word-works-addington-6-of-32Over the past four years CAST has partnered with an NPO called Wordworks to implement their foundation phase programme called the Early Literacy Programme (ELP).

The ELP is an intervention programme for underprivileged children in the foundation phase (Grade R through 2).  The Literacy Programme provides support for children who are lacking in early language and literacy skills.  Currently CAST is running the programme at Addington Primary School in the South Beach area to help Grade 1 learners develop their reading and writing skills.

Tutors/Volunteers are needed to work with pairs of children for a couple of hours each week. We currently run the programme every Tuesday and Thursday from 9-11:30am. No previous experience is needed, just a love of children and a bit of patience! CAST will provide you with initial training and ongoing support and advice.

If you would like to get involved, contact Joseph at 031 267 1716 or joseph@cast.org.za. Contact us and you can even visit on a Tuesday/Thursday to see us in action.

Join the movement beyond charity and help us make a difference in the lives of young children!

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Brighten Up Kwadabeka

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On Tuesday, the 24th September, 100 members of Westville Baptist Church along with 120 members of the Kwadabeka community, came together in a beautiful portrayal of Heritage Day.

An initiative powered by CAST- a social outreach non-profit- and Westville Baptist, “Brighten up Kwadabeka” was a day aimed at painting, fixing, cleaning and repairing Sithokozile Secondary School, handing out food parcels and making home visits to the food parcel recipients of the community, and running a children’s programme for the young ones at Kwadabeka Baptist Church.

The day ran from 8am until 12pm and ended off with a massive community braai, in celebration of South Africa’s National Braai Day. In every classroom, a group of people could be found hard at work, covered in paint, and out on the field there were people sanding down pillars, replacing gutters, hosing down the roof and cleaning up litter.

The partnership with Sithokozile Secondary School and Westville Baptist began 1994 when the church opened a soup kitchen for needy pupils. Since then, Sithokozile became the first township school in KZN to receive a new soccer pitch, made from synthetic grass. This initiative, along with the opening of a counselling centre at the school, was organised by the Church Alliance for Social Transformation (CAST).

The relationship between CAST and the Kwadabeka community has developed over the years and now includes an ongoing and effective food parcel programme, a sports programme and a business development forum.

It was an honour and privilege to have had another opportunity to serve this community, and to see so many people of all colours and ages, come together.

 

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More Than a Ball and a Hoop.

KwaDabeka Sports Day.

Getting the youth more involved in the church was a vision for KwaDabeka Baptist this year and it seems the vision is becoming a reality.

To commemorate June 16th, Youth Day, CAST coordinator, Lungelo, organised for a Sports Event to be held at the church – an opportunity for the youth to socialise and enjoy their community beyond the weekly Friday night meetings. The KwaDabeka sports teams were joined by teams from Isaiah House Church in Molweni making a total of about 150 youth. The program ran from 9am until 4:30pm, with the youth participating in basketball, netball and soccer tournaments throughout the day. During the intervals of the sports programs, the crowds were entertained by ice-breaker activities and humorous commentating.

At lunch time, the coordinators took the opportunity of the gathering to give a short talk to the youth on “Awareness “– a topic which included points on drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and underage sex- and then do a salvation call at the end of the talk.

25 young people committed their lives to Jesus.

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Addington Sports Week.

The school holidays can be a scary time for the children of the Inner City because many come from neglectful households and dangerous areas. Without the safety net of going to school every day, many of these kids are left to roam around the streets of Durban Central. The risk of them getting involved in inappropriate activities is also very high during this period.

CAST, held a Sports Clinic for the children to attend from the 8th -11th July at Addington Primary School. The aim of this week was to provide the kids firstly with a safe space to come every day, and secondly, for them to be in an environment where they are free to just be children. A volunteer team from Lake Pointe Church in Texas along with volunteers from Westville Baptist took part in coaching basketball, netball and soccer everyday for the kids.

“The day was very eye-opening and fulfilling, and it was awesome to see joy in its rawest form.There definitely is a benefit to the community from outreaches like this because the children have an alternative outlet during the holidays”IMG_7789 IMG_7808   

Sports Ministry is about more than just kicking a ball around or shooting hoops. It’s an opportunity to form lasting relationships with kids and youth from the Durban communities and to have an impact on their lives that goes beyond a friendly game of soccer. Let us know if you are keen to be a part of this!

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The Love of a Child

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Imagine walking into a school and having the most beautiful children in Durban come running towards you and jumping into your arms even though they have never met you before in their life.

Well, that’s exactly what Addington Primary Holiday Club is like. Within mere minutes you will have one or two children adopting you for the week: wanting to play catches with you; giving you an endless supply of hugs; playing with your hair; sitting on your lap; and just generally giving you love.

But at the end of the day that is not the point of our holiday clubs, which we run annually during the June/July school holidays. The purpose of these holiday clubs is for kids- most of whom live in the poor and dangerous areas of the Durban Inner City- to have a safe place to come to during their holidays, to experience love and kindness that they may not get in their home environments, and to learn about God. Addington is one of the communities that CAST is associated with, which is why we choose to run a holiday club in that particular area.

This year our holiday club title was, “Mzansi- Where Friends Meet”, where the kids learnt what it means to be a friend and how they should choose their friends. We also had the opportunity of teaching them that Jesus wants to be their best friend and this saw many of the kids asking God into their hearts.

Something that was reiterated amongst the leaders during the week was the fact that we do not realise how something simple -like being a part of this holiday club for one week- may change the lives of these children for eternity.

Yes,  the running of the holiday club is tiring and requires a lot of energy and effort, but at the end of the week you leave that school wishing you could stay longer, because loving those children and being loved back by them is the easiest and most natural thing in the world.

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