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Nneka’s Story

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Nneka’s Story

By Rolan Gulston

Like many girls her age, twelve-year-old Nneka Useni from Addington Primary School loves spending time with her friends, reading, learning new recipes, taking selfies, and playing her favourite sport – netball, especially with her teammates on the CAST netball team. Over the years, CAST has developed a strong partnership with the school, facilitating early literacy programmes for the foundation-level, and sport and youth development programmes for the pre-teen age group.

Earlier this year, Nneka was one of 60 girls selected to attend the CAST Girls’ Camp, a 3-day retreat for the young ladies to learn about what it means to be resilient; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. “I learnt so much in just one weekend and felt so spoilt, I was smiling the whole time,” Nneka reminisces.  She especially enjoyed the team-building exercises, which challenged the girls in their ability to problem-solve and find solutions together.

The camp, she feels, has greatly impacted her life in helping her to develop a stronger relationship with God.

“Before, I always felt like the whole world was coming for me. I didn’t trust people, but now I know that people care about me and that the bad things will make me stronger.”

Nneka attends the Christ Embassy Church at China Mall in the Durban CBD, and has also joined the teen youth group, which gives her the space to talk about evangelism, freely express her views, and pray for others, which she found difficult to do before.

Growing up as the only girl at home since her mother’s passing in 2010, Nneka finds it difficult to connect with her older brother attending high school, and her father, who seldom gets to spend quality time with them because of work. The family are currently under tremendous financial strain, living on a social grant from SASSA, but unable to afford electricity for the past 3 months.

Despite this, Nneka has learnt to face these challenges with a positive attitude, displaying maturity and confidence far beyond her years. Having been a learner at the school since Grade One, Nneka has become a leader in her own rite, taking on the duties of library and drama monitor, as well as MC’ing the school’s recent Heritage Day celebration concert.

Nneka’s dream is to become an entrepreneur in the fashion industry. She will be attending high school at Durban Girls’ Secondary from next year, and intends on keeping up her good academic, and behavioural record. Fortunately, she has had the encouragement of her teachers to speak up and work hard toward her goals. She has also greatly appreciated the support from Thandi, CAST’s Girls’ Sport Co-ordinator, in her approach to coaching. “Thandi’s fair, she takes the time to listen to us. It’s easy to open up to her,” she says. This has also helped Nneka to form a strong bond with her teammates, and learn the value of teamwork.

Nneka’s journey through her childhood years at Addington Primary School has been greatly enriched by the time and resources provided by CAST through the generosity of our sponsors and volunteers. If you would like to get involved in shaping young lives through the Girls’ Sport and Youth Development programmes run by CAST, contact Thandi on 031 266 8830 or thandi@cast.org.za

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Living Art: Malusi’s Story

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Growing up in the rural community of Bergville, Malusi Manzini’s passion for artwork, creativity and recycling began with creating one model of a rural home out of cardboard.  At first, Malusi did not plan on using his God-given talent in creative arts. However, with a family of four brothers and two sisters and no one working at home, he managed to use his creativity to support his family.  Malusi made more artwork out of the materials he could find, such as plastic materials and cardboard, and sold them to raise income each month.

After matriculating, Malusi moved to Chesterville in 2012 to live with his brother, and was able to study Social Work at UNISA.   He continued to create artwork as he completed his Social Work practical in the community.

“After moving away from a rural area towards the city of Durban, I was so fascinated by the kind of lifestyle lived here. I could easily draw the difference in the type of infrastructure found here in the city with the ones in the rural areas, I was so motivated by this difference that I even decided to take a picture of one of the houses and tried to build it into a smaller scale using cardboard as part of recycling.”

During this time, he met Nomakaya Mpambaniso, CAST’s Chesterville Community Co-ordinator, who took an interest in his artwork.  Nomakaya encouraged Malusi to showcase his artwork at West City Fellowship (WCF) in Chesterville, and she also connected Malusi with CAST’s Youth Development Programme.

Excited about the opportunity, Malusi joined CAST as a volunteer soccer coach working with 23 boys between the ages of 13-15 years old.  However, he envisioned the programme to go beyond just sports.  Malusi realised that some of the boys showed artistic potential, so he developed a formal Creative Arts Programme.

The boys use recycled plastic materials and cardboard to create their artwork.  CAST and WCF also support Malusi’s programme by donating materials such as brushes, paint, scissors and glue.

“I like to work with the younger boys and share stories.  I tell them to try to be creative, try to make your own things.  Don’t depend on your parents.  I encourage the boys to finish matric and go to university.”

Malusi and his boys are looking forward to attending the upcoming CAST boys2Men Camp in October.  Although Malusi has not attended the camp previously, he believes this will be a good opportunity for his boys to develop values such as respect and self-determination, while also spending quality time with peers to share ideas and support each other in learning how to become strong men.

In the past month, ten boys from Malusi’s programme have raised the necessary funds (R200/$15 per boy) to attend camp.  CAST still needs to raise another R350/$27 per boy to cover the entire cost of 60 boys attending camp.  This is a unique opportunity for the boys to experience life outside of their community, grow in their walk with the Lord and learn more about what it means to become a man.  If you are interested in sponsoring one of Malusi’s boys to go to boys2Men camp or donating art supplies for the Creative Arts Programme, please contact George at: george@cast.org.za or 079 596 7364