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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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Sinikithemba

 

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At CAST’s Community Empowerment Centre in Chesterville, Nomakaya Mpambaniso (CAST’s Chesterville Community Co-ordinator) leads a counselling support group for those in the community.  Every week the group comes together for support, sewing and knitting projects, as well as fun games and activities.  Most of the group members receive food parcels from CAST, which helps to supplement their diet.  This past week Sinikithemba celebrated Youth Day by having group members dress up in school uniforms and playing school games to encourage staying active.

Below is the story of how the Sinikithemba Support Group has impacted the life of a group member, in her own words:

My name is Lindiwe Dlamini. I love God, and am very much appreciative to God for sacrificing his only Son Jesus Christ, and I am also in love with my community and my people.

I heard about the Sinikithemba Support Group (meaning ‘we bring hope’) and CAST, and volunteered there. This is where I met Mam’Glad, Carol, Lizzie, Mam’Njazi, Makhosi, with social workers and others – good people I met.

When I met these people on this particular day I was happy, excited and blessed to meet them. I listened attentively that everything they spoke about had Christian values and principles; they spoke about helping needy people in the community, respect, giving faith to the faithless and also assisting the needy with food parcels.

I was led by a Bible verse from Psalms 23 that says, “The Lord is Shepherd I shall not want.”

So I thought about the initiatives that were spoken about in the meeting and I had faith again and went out to the community to tell people of CAST and the Sinikithemba Support Group. More people were interested so Mam’Glad spoke to social worker that assisted a lot in the community.

People that are assisted in this community have hope, faith, respect and love. CAST has also led them closer to Christ.

We also assist people with counselling and refer them to the clinic, as well as helping the disabled and cleaning their homes if there is no one to help.

We thank you for the help and assistance, as well as the education and training, and the love we receive.

With this programme, you get all the assistance you need, even the ones who are on chronic medication have something nutritious to eat prior to taking treatment/medication.

We even visit schools to find out what problems they are facing and see where we can help as a group through the assistance of CAST.

In conclusion, we ask that CAST continue supporting communities like us because it makes a difference in the community and people gain hope, faith, and start living again and themselves go out to help others. We thank you for the great work and we love you guys.

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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.