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Jemimah’s Story

 

Ten-year-old Jemimah Chihenga is a talkative and bubbly Grade 4 learner at Addington Primary School in inner-city Durban.  In her class of 45 learners, Jemimah has come to love social sciences, but still battles with maths, particularly long division.  Her teacher, Ms Mkhize, comes early in the morning before class to help Jemimah and other students with their maths.  This year, Jemimah reached Position 3 in her class; however, her academic achievements have been part of a longer journey that began four years ago.

In Grade 1, Jemimah was referred to CAST’s Wordworks Early Literacy Programme at Addington Primary.  Orginally from the DR Congo, Jemimah’s family speaks primarily Swahili at home.  Learning in a second language proved challenging for Jemimah, and she needed the extra support at Wordworks to help her develop the foundational English reading and writing skills needed to understand and complete her schoolwork.

She was paired with a volunteer who used games and activities to teach Jemimah phonics and spelling words. Thanks to this individual attention, Jemimah was able to graduate from the Wordworks programme, confident in her reading and writing skills.

More recently, Jemimah joined CAST’s ‘Give Your Brain a Hand’ creative arts programme at Addington Primary.  This programme supports development of the ‘right-brain’ through dance, needlework, speech & drama, and arts & crafts.  Jemimah particularly enjoys needlework, and has learned how to do basic stitching and embroidery.  So far, she has made a pin cushion, small handbag, jersey, apron and doll’s dress.  One day, she hopes to make a red tablecloth for her mother.

Jemimah would like to become a teacher when she’s older; however, her parents have encouraged her to pursue medicine.  Jemimah hopes to merge these two desires through helping people who have cancer or are HIV-positive.

During the July holidays this year, Jemimah also had the chance to attend CAST’s ‘Crowned’ Addington Holiday Club where she learned how to be royalty (including how to do royal bows) and to be grateful to God for protecting her family.

Jemimah’s father was part of starting the Evangelical Miracle Centre on Smith Street.  On the weekends, Jemimah is proud to sing in the choir at her dad’s church. She also participates in a Friday Bible study at Addington Primary with 38 other children.

CAST believes that in order to empower families and communities, we must rescue the cognitive potential of every child in every community where we partner through academic, creative arts and spiritual development programmes.  By reaching learners like Jemimah at the foundational phase, CAST is able to build the groundwork for academic success through developing reading and writing skills.  To learn more about how you can volunteer and support the Wordworks Early Literacy Programme, contact CAST at: 031 266 8830 or info@cast.org.za

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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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Making a Difference through ABCs

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Back when Rolan first started volunteering with CAST’s Wordworks Literacy Programme at Addington Primary School, one of her learners didn’t know their alphabet.  In fact, the child didn’t even really speak to Rolan at all.

However, thanks to the structured, easy to use, one on one tutoring format of Wordworks, Rolan has been able to transform this learner’s life, not only with literacy skills, but also through a warm and caring relationship.  It took some time, but now this Grade 1 learner opens up with Rolan, sharing stories and even writing full sentences.

Rolan heard about the Literacy Programme through one of CAST’s interns.  She wasn’t working and wanted to make the best use of her time, so Rolan jumped into volunteering.  Although she is not a teacher, Rolan still found it easy to get involved because of the Wordworks training and simple lesson structure.  In the beginning, she just observed for a few weeks to see how to help the kids and how to deal with behavioural issues if necessary.

Now Rolan is a seasoned Literacy Programme volunteer.  As she explains, “I feel so much more at ease with the kids and feel so much more confident.  You learn as you go.  The kids take awhile to trust volunteers.  It’s about building a relationship instead of just being another authority figure.  You’re growing with the child, both in your ability to teach and their ability to learn.  It’s a journey.”

Rolan believes that CAST’s Literacy Programme has the potential to positively change a learner’s whole attitude about school.  The Literacy Programme is part of CAST’s Educational Support Department, which aims to rescue the academic potential of learners through training and support programmes which will help them grasp key concepts, and reduce obstacles to future success.  Addington Primary School is located in Durban central, and has a large population of learners from refugee families.  Because of the language barrier and large class sizes, Wordworks is key for learners to grow in their foundational literacy skills, as well as providing a safe place for the children to express themselves.

If you would like to become a literacy volunteer like Rolan and make a difference in the life of a child, please contact Joseph Bode at joe@cast.org.za for more information about volunteer training.

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Lydia

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“CAST – it was like an angel coming to my doorstep.”

Most people don’t know that Lydia is sick.  A bright, cheerful CAST volunteer who loves to look smart, Lydia faithfully comes to CAST’s Wordworks Literacy Programme twice a week to assist Addington Primary School learners with basic reading and writing skills.

Lydia passes on her joy to the learners through her contagious smile.  However, her smile and laughter hides a world of physical pain that she has lived with since 2006 when she was diagnosed with cancer.

In fact, Lydia first connected with CAST through a friend in the Parklands cancer ward.  It was through this friend that she met Janine Pepper, CAST’s Community Development Manager.

At the time, Lydia had lost her job as a Forensic Report Analyst because she was too sick to go to work.  A family friend was providing for her medical aid, but Lydia battled to pay for rent, electricity, and food.

As a social worker, Janine encouraged Lydia to access a disability grant to cover some of her expenses, as well as monthly food parcels from CAST.

During this time Lydia had received eviction notices and was in court fighting to stay in her flat.  With Janine’s assistance from CAST, Lydia was able to secure enough finances to pay for her rent.  Then just when things were looking better, Lydia hit rock bottom when she came home to her flat building and found all her belongings thrown out in the street.  Despite paying her rent in full, Lydia was unjustly thrown out of her flat.

As Lydia explains, “I was like a laughing stock.  It was the biggest humiliation.”

Eventually with the help of Janine, Lydia was able to move back into her flat.

Wanting to give back to the community, Lydia was introduced to the Wordworks Programme by Yasmin Adams, CAST’s Inner City Area Coordinator.  She now actively tutors several learners struggling with basic literacy and language skills.  In the Literacy Programme, Lydia has found a purpose.

Lydia confidently says, “I still believe God wanted to prove He has been with me all the way.  Each day means a lot to me.  God has been journeying with me.  He’s preparing me for something big to come.”

All of CAST’s programmes are grassroot by nature, being run by ordinary people, for ordinary people, but in ways that bring extraordinary results.  Many of CAST’s volunteers are themselves CAST food parcel recipients, business forum participants, sports team members, or counselling clients.

CAST’s goal is to give a hand up, not a hand out.  Our heart is to mobilise the local church to reach out with practical compassion, to empower and transform lost and hurting communities.  By empowering people to transform their own communities, we believe that the Kingdom of God will be advanced.

Currently, Lydia is still looking for some kind of employment.  If you know of a job opportunity suited for Lydia, please contact Janine Pepper at: janine@cast.org.za

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Thoko the Teacher

One of CAST’s most faithful volunteers, Thoko was more than thrilled to become a CAST intern at the beginning of this year. Thoko’s journey with CAST began in 2014 when he was working a part-time job and looking for a way to give back to his community. One Sunday morning Thoko came to Westville Baptist Church, with a CV in hand and hoping for a chance to volunteer. After hearing CAST’s Executive Director, Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt, speak during the service, Thoko knew CAST was the place for him.

Thoko is originally from the small country of Malawi. As Thoko explains, “Malawians are too nice. Everyone greets you. Malawi is a poor country, but its people are hardworking.”

True to his word, Thoko used his passion for teaching through volunteering at CAST’s Homework Club in Addington. Last year when Homework Club transformed into the new Wordworks Literacy Programme, Thoko was excited to get involved.

When children come to the programme who are struggling with reading and writing, Thoko finds it incredibly fulfilling to work with the students. While volunteering with students who have fallen behind requires some serious patience, Thoko believes any volunteer can find a sense of fulfillment from getting involved with CAST’s Literacy Programme. The more informal and fun learning environment allows students to make enormous improvement within a short amount of time.

As Thoko explains, “The Literacy Programme opens up a whole future to the kids.” Without adequate reading or writing skills, students struggle to succeed in every subject. The goal of CAST’s Literacy Programme is to help students with basic literacy and language skills that lay the foundation for overall academic performance.

CAST’s Literacy Programme is completely dependent on volunteers who give a few hours of their time a week. If you have a heart for kids and education, and want to get involved, just email Murry at: murry@cast.org.za to find out more. CAST provides Wordworks training that makes it easy to get started. The Literacy Programme runs on Tuesday and Thursday at Addington Primary School in Durban central.

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An Army of Volunteers

“We are going to need what a wonderful book calls a moral underground, an army of volunteers.” -Prof. Jonathan Jansen

DSC_0569 As a grandfather and long-time member of Westville Baptist Church, Sandy Forsyth has a heart for children and serving God.  Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, you can count on seeing Sandy at Addington Primary School.  Sandy consistently gives of his time to tutor students at Addington.  Rain or shine, and even when few volunteers are to be found, Sandy arrives at Addington, ready to pour into the lives of the children.

Five years ago, Sandy listened to a video in which Professor Jonathan Jansen spoke about the problem of education in South Africa.  Jansen discussed the incongruence between private schools, where a small amount of middle to upper class students attend, and the poorer and under-resourced public schools, where the majority of the population is educated.  Instead of blaming the government, Jansen challenged ordinary people to get involved in education through volunteering their time to tutor students – even just a couple hours a week.  Jansen called for an “army of volunteers” to tackle these issues.

Sandy took this message to heart, and began to look for opportunities to volunteer at a school.  In 2006 his daughter, Lucy Johnson, and Lauren Bras started a ministry in Addington, and they were looking for volunteers who could help Addington students with their homework after school.  After Lauren approached Sandy about volunteering with CAST at Addington, he began to come faithfully every week.

Addington Primary is a unique school in that many of the students are refugees from other countries in Africa.  They speak Swahili, French, and other local languages from their home countries.  Students often fall behind because they do not have basic English language skills, and their parents are unable to assist in their education because of the language barrier as well.  In addition, children are instructed in classes of 40 or more students, allowing little time for individual attention from teachers. The result is that many students do not know their alphabet or basic phonics.  The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that the school only began to offer Grade R two years ago, so many of the students lack any pre-primary education which normally provides the necessary foundation for basic language and literacy skills.

Instead of being intimidated by these many challenges, Sandy dived in with his students, helping groups of 8 to 10 students to complete their homework after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  During the past few months, CAST has changed Homework Help into a programme that addresses the unique needs of Addington students.  The new Literacy Programme uses material from Wordworks, an organisation that supports the early language and literacy learning of children from historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa.

A picture of Sandy drawn by one of his students

A picture of Sandy drawn by one of his students

Sandy enjoys the new Literacy Programme because it allows more one-on-one attention for students.  Each volunteer in the programme is paired with two students, allowing more focus on foundational language and literacy skills.  By working with only two children, Sandy believes you can more clearly see the progress and growth of students.

Sandy encourages retirees to get involved with the Literacy Programme because there is a need for volunteers every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  By giving a few hours a week to tutor two students, you can help tackle the problem of education in South Africa.  CAST provides training for Literacy Programme volunteers, and the Wordworks materials makes it easy to jump in and get started with the programme right away.  CAST also provides a library of books for volunteers to use with the students.

CAST’s Educational Assistance Programme aims to rescue the academic potential of learners through the Literacy Programme which will help them grasp key concepts, and reduce obstacles to future success.  However the Literacy Programme needs ordinary people that can become “an army of volunteers” to tackle the issues that hinder the potential of students.  If you are passionate about children and issues of education, please contact Murry, CAST’s Volunteer Coordinator at murry@cast.org.za.