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Living Testimony: Siya’s Story

During the month of December 2019, CAST was blessed with a total of 33 interns sponsored by ABSA Bank Ltd. in partnership with Catalyx Consulting as a host organization. Our duty was to implement the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme initiated by President Cyril Ramaphosa. This year-long internship aims to assist unemployed South Africans aged 18 – 28 years old in gaining full-time employment in their chosen fields.

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Below is the testimony of one of our interns, Siyabonga, sharing his journey of transformation since joining CAST last year.

“My name is Siyabonga Makatshu. I was born on the 26th of February 2001 at KwaDabeka Clinic, but my family’s roots are at Eastern Cape. I grew up in Clermont, KwaDabeka. I started schooling at Mcopheleli Primary School, then went to Sithokozile Secondary and that is where I matriculated.

My journey with CAST started in late 2019 when I had no clear direction about my life, and I didn’t have any interest to further my studies. I was in a bondage by that time.

I remember in February, my friend asked me to accompany her to get her mother a food parcel at CAST KwaDabeka Community Centre. We went, and when we got there, the Co-ordinator of CAST KDB, Bab Peace Msimango told us that he needed volunteers to help the community and we agreed to come help. The day came when we met the second time with the intention of just “coming to help the community” but Bab Msimango told us that we need to do training before we start the ministry that God called us to fellowship on. We attended the training, and when we were all together as a team, we worshipped and shared the word of God. That grew us spiritually. I was never a perfect creature, I was smoking, drinking, stealing, swearing and did other horrible things, but God changed my life

I remember our co-ordinator asked us what our goals were, and I said that I would like to know God better than I know Him. My spiritual father, Bab Msimango, is the one who supported me all the way up until today. He was there for me throughout. I then started attending church every Sunday at KwaDabeka Baptist. I was still, however, not able to support my family. My co-ordinator visited me at home to see where I come from. He then saw the need to give me a food parcel to support my family, because I was a committed volunteer and participating in the community. I am happy to say I was the first volunteer at CAST to be visited at the township and that’s history. I was picked to go to the boys2MEN Camp and CAST’s 10th Anniversary Celebration. Our co-ordinator told us that after 6 months to 1 year, we will get a reference from CAST, because there are not many job opportunities in South Africa and that it will then help us in our future working lives.

In December, I and the other volunteers went to the volunteer thank-you party to receive certificates for tutoring in the Wordworks Literacy programme. I have learned a lot of things at the CAST organization. 2019 was one of the best years of my life and I have a testimony. I call myself a ‘living testimony’. Now, I have a clear direction in life unlike before.

I remember every Tuesday, we prayed for job opportunities and luckily my friends got an opportunity to work at the Airport and my nephew got a job at Pavilion Shopping Centre and there were four of us and I was left alone. I wondered, why me? But Jeremiah 29: 11 says, “I have plans for you, said the Lord, the plan to prosper you and not to harm you to give a time and hope.”

I learnt to be patient because patience is not an ability to wait but, to keep a good attitude while waiting. In December 2019, I went to an interview for the YES Internship programme at CAST and thank God I got the job. I am so happy to have gotten the opportunity to work because I am learning a lot. I met my new colleagues and am learning so much from them. I have improved my English and communication skills. I have learnt not to impress others, but be impactful towards them. The Catalyx training on work-readiness was and is effective in my life and I have also learned a lot from CAST.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Siyabonga played a key role in supplying food-insecure families with emergency relief during the national lockdown. Watch him in action on the CAST YouTube channel.

Siya’s dream is to study either Health and Safety Management or Trade and Marketing Management and follow his calling to become a Pastor. If you would like to support the development of young leaders in our communities like Siya, contact us at info@cast.org.za for more information about other CAST initiatives.

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#IAm a Child of God: Naledi’s story

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One of the main aims of the CAST Ministry is to help those in our communities grow, develop and be a guiding light for others. One of these people is 15-year-old Naledi Dladla who shares her testimony about how her life has been transformed since joining CAST:

My Name is Naledi Nthabiseng Dladla, I am 15 Years old and I am a Christian, a child of GOD. I live in the rural Appelsbosch Mission Area with my granny, aunts, brothers, and sisters – one big family. I participate at CAST as a volunteer for the Children’s Holiday club, Sunday school, and I interpret for the American Missions Teams. Before I joined CAST, my life was a mess. I could not understand it.

When I was young, I had a lot of anger about my Mom. She passed away when I was very young, so I don’t know her. I was told by my dad and grandmother that she got sick and then she passed on. That hurt me a lot, because I could hear my friends and other children talk about their moms, and me knowing very well that I can’t talk about my mom because she no longer exists on earth.

So I heard about CAST from my Sunday School teacher, Uncle Fortune (former CAST Community Co-ordinator at Appelsbosch Baptist Community Church), who also worked at CAST. He is the one who got me to be close with people who work at CAST. One of my favourites is Thandi. I started in 2017 by going to Camp with other girls whereby we can share our stories, views and ideas.

I got involved at CAST because I have seen them help a lot in my community. I am a person who has a big heart, who loves to help, and who want the best for the community. CAST has made big change in people’s lives my community, especially for girls…if I didn’t attend Girls Camp, now I could be a person who drinks alcohol and abuses substances (drugs). CAST has made a big difference in my life.

I have an older brother from my mother’s side who was abusing very strong substances. He would come home drunk and high by weed. One day, I decided to take my life by drinking alcohol and smoking weed, but in my ears there was this voice that was saying, ‘’no Naledi, don’t ever do that. What are you trying to do? GOD has big plans for you. You’ve got a lot of things to do to make your family proud.’’

Then I told myself that I should speak about this, I can’t just keep quiet and watch this boy hitting me and insulting me with all kinds of words. I went to uncle Fortune and asked him about these Camps…. I asked him how much money I could pay then he told me. He was telling us that Camp is where girls gathered and talk about everything.

I asked them at home and they agreed. When I got there, I met Thandi, a most wonderful humble woman. She was the person I knew to talk about everything to because she was the one who understood my feelings and she still does. I told her everything that happened to me, that I was almost raped. I couldn’t tell my family because I was scared.

Thandi prayed for me, and told me that it is not over until GOD says so… she told me that I could pray to GOD and tell him everything that I am facing or that I’ll be facing. We prayed together and after that I realised that GOD can be with us all the time.

That’s how CAST has made a difference in my life. What I learned from CAST is that it is important to be patient, brave and ask for help from people who can help you, and to give back to those who could need your help, because that’s what GOD created us for, that we help each other as His children.

I would like to get more involved at CAST, and become a partner, because it is so amazing to be part of people who are the same as you, who know what’s wrong and right, people who don’t count how much they’ve helped that particular community. So I would like to be a member, be there most of the time and learn more about being a helper.

Like in my church where I attend at Appelsbosch Baptist Community Church, my Pastor always preaches to us to help the poor and people who need help, even it’s not the poor but people who could need help like at my school. I am the one who knows English in my class, so most of the time I could help them with essays and their writing. I know that I am not a clever person, but then I always tell myself that I am not stupid. That’s what Pastor Dube always tells us to tell ourselves.

CAST has impacted my spiritual journey by encouraging us to trust GOD very much because we live by Him. At Holiday Clubs, they teach us more about Jesus and GOD, memory verses and other verses that tell us more about GOD. That’s how CAST has impacted my spiritual journey.

My dream for the future is to become a lawyer. That wasn’t my dream when I was growing up. I wanted to be a doctor, but as time has passed, I saw that lawyers are people who are liars, not honest in the cases they work on. I have always told myself I will only deal with innocent people and that will depend on their cases.

For me to reach that dream, I have to work hard at school, go to varsity and graduate just like my dad and my older sister who is a doctor. I just wish to ask if you guys pray for me to seek GOD to show me the way forward, and for him to protect me in every way I go. Thank you.

By Naledi Dladla

Be part of the BIG picture and change a girl’s life this Christmas!

This year, CAST is excited to shine a light on our youth development programmes for young women aged between 12 – 18 years old. With your help, we will be raising funds to help our partner churches form communities where girls can thrive, build their resilience and combat gender-based violence.

A donation of R150 per girl will fund their participation in our girls’ conferences, sport, and discipleship programmes for 2020.

Each donor will receive a beautiful #IAm Christmas decoration and card decorated by the girls in our programmes, as well as your piece of the puzzle to make up a picture symbolising our theme, Ubuhle Bembokodo – “the strength and beauty of a woman”

For more information, contact Thandi: thandi@cast.org.za or call (031) 2668830.

#movebeyondcharity #jointhemovement #bepartofthebigpicture #UbuhleBembokodo #girlsempowerment #youthdevelopment

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Be Part of the BIG picture – Change a Girls’ Life this Christmas

This year, CAST is excited to shine a light on our youth development programmes for young women aged between 12 – 18 years old. With your help, we will be raising funds to help our partner churches form communities where girls can thrive, build their resilience and combat gender-based violence.

A donation of R150 per girl will fund their participation in our girls’ conferences, sport, and discipleship programmes for 2020.

Each donor will receive a beautiful #IAm Christmas decoration and card decorated by the girls in our programmes, as well as your piece of the puzzle to make up a picture symbolising Ubuhle Bembokodo – “the strength and beauty of a woman”

For more information, contact Thandi: thandi@cast.org.za or call (031) 2668830.

#movebeyondcharity #jointhemovement #bepartofthebigpicture #UbuhleBembokodo #girlsempowerment #youthdevelopment

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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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Coach Bongani

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Coach Bongani (far right) with some of his team at Sithokozile High School in KwaDabeka

By Rolan Gulston

Originally from Harrismith, 25-year-old Bongani Tshabalala has made a home in the community of KwaDabeka, a township situated just east of Pinetown. Since joining CAST as a volunteer soccer coach last year, he now feels fully invested in the development of the youth in the community.

Growing up with an older brother and two younger siblings, Bongani sought to become independent from an early age. While he spent much of his time at the gym training for the game that he loves, he did not see playing soccer as being a long-term career. Instead, he focussed on education, and encourages his boys to do the same.

Bongani has been studying mechanics since October last year. He shares that, as a youngster, he was not always diligent in his studies and often influenced his friends to take up drinking, smoking and dating to fit in with his social circle. Even attending church was something he did only to please his mother. This changed when he turned 21, as he began to appreciate his faith and attend church regularly without being pushed. As he got older and strengthened his relationship with God, he realised that the only person he can compete with is himself. He now attends KwaDabeka Baptist Church, and plays an active role in the Youth Ministry.

He first heard about CAST through a friend last year after living with his brother in Joburg for a year and half. The community centre in KwaDabeka was looking for a soccer coach, and he immediately jumped on board, but what he found was a deep lack of motivation in the team.

Gradually, through implementing the uBabalo Whole-life Coaching Programme, the boys have developed a close bond, and have learnt the value of supporting each other, “Because when you are playing soccer, you’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing as a team.”

Under his coaching, the boys won their first 10 games, and are now placed in the Pinetown League. Bongani believes in pushing the boys beyond their perceived level of capability by organising for his teams to play matches against older age groups as a way of helping them to adapt and gain experience. “God is here and anything is possible,” he tells them.

The team is steadily growing in number as the word spreads. The Under-15 and Under-17 boys train together three days a week. As part of the uBabalo programme, the team spends time reflecting on scripture before each training session, and many of the boys have shown great spiritual growth.

“God is always there. He is always watching you. I know it’s not going to be easy, but if you work hard, it won’t go away. If it’s easy, it won’t last.”

Bongani tries to always be an encouraging voice for the team, “I have never disgraced them. I tell them they should believe in themselves and trust each other. When I’m sharing myself, I am healing too.” His supportive, yet disciplined approach to coaching and mentoring has endeared him to the boys, who often tell him, “You are part of the family, you are always open.”

This year was his first time attending the annual boys2Men Camp. As a leader at the camp and in his community, Bongani took this time to mentor the young boys in the group of 60 that were selected to attend the camp. It also gave the boys a chance to talk about the things affecting them. He helped them to recognize bad influences in their lives, whether it be the people in their social circles or even the music they listen to. After sharing his testimony, he also taught them about making wise choices, not giving in to peer pressure, and rather than trying to change their friends immediately, start by telling them about the camp and share Bible verses with them.

Bongani found that previously, when selecting a captain, the boys would often choose the loudest player in the team but, lacking in respect for others. He soon drew out the quieter boys who showed leadership potential, and once placed in captaincy, began to change the mind-set of the team; leading by example in their dedication to the sport and their school work. Others have since also improved in their school results, and with Bongani’s guidance, have been applying for bursaries for tertiary education. He has also made time to help them form a study group for Maths and Science.

Between studying, training at the gym and playing matches, soccer keeps the boys busy. “They are no longer bored.” Bongani, too, feels that he has changed. For the past year, he has abstained from drinking and smoking.

“You should accept the way you are, and change the way you do things. Just having fun and buying lots of clothes won’t take you anywhere. Only education. God will provide everything later on.”

Bongani has a passion for youth development, especially empowering the young boys entering adolescence. Bongani’s dream is to empower them to become self-sufficient, productive members of their community. He, himself, has tried to set an example of this by seeing to his own groceries and rent of R550 a month. May was a particularly difficult month for Bongani, without money to afford food and basic necessities, but he still committed himself to training at the gym with the boys. He now receives a monthly food parcel from CAST’s Relief Services, which has been a great help. He hopes to one day have the means to support the boys in buying their soccer boots and kit. “I know I’ll accomplish that, but I know the path won’t be easy.”

Bongani would like to continue coaching, as he feels he is gaining a lot of experience, especially when working with the younger boys. “It’s something different, I am adapting.” To support Bongani in his mission to empower the youth, contact George at CAST on: 031 266 8830 or george@cast.org.za

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CAST at Daleview High Tea: Grace, Glamour & Grit

CAST at Daleview High Tea: Grace, Glamour & Grit

By Cindy Whittle

“The world will never realise 100 per cent of its goals if 50 per cent of its people cannot realise their full potential. When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all.”  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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Youth empowerment through resilience training is one of four focus areas of community development at the Church Alliance for Social Transformation (CAST). This, together with her passion for advocacy in the subject of gender equality, is one of the reasons why CAST’s General Manager, Charmaine Moses, jumped at the opportunity to address the young ladies at Daleview High School accompanied by CAST staff members, Cindy Whittle and Noeleen Moonsamy. On the 18th of August, Daleview held their annual High Tea.  Having spent the first five years of her teaching career at the school, Mrs. Moses felt at home, challenging the girls on what it means to be ‘3G-compliant’ and even better, ‘4G-compliant’.

“Girls, you’ve got to have Grace, Glamour and Grit to achieve your goals – the ‘3G’s”, elaborated Mrs. Moses, as the girls listened intently.

Mrs. Whittle also took the opportunity to share her personal story, a testament to the role that grit has played in helping her to overcome challenges she has faced in her life. “Having grit means digging deep and pressing on when things are really hard”, she conveyed.

In closing, Charmaine boldly asked the girls, “What could be better than ‘3G’?”, answered by a resounding “4G!” Mrs. Moses excitedly shared what the addition of the 4th and most important ‘G’, God, has made to her life.

“With God the other ‘3G’s are fast-tracked” she said. “Grace, glam and grit is made possible with God in our lives. Even true glamour comes from within.”

The girls were presented with a “Certificate of Attendance” for their first ‘4G’ course and gifted with small tokens representing female empowerment, followed by tea and treats. CAST in partnership with Cornerstone Community Church (Longbury Drive, Phoenix) looks forward to building on the lessons shared in this first session with the young ladies at Daleview High School that may foster a culture of spiritual and emotional resilience for our leaders of tomorrow.

To learn more about CAST’s impact in Phoenix, contact Daniel Moses at: mosesdaniel20@gmail.com or 071 364 4860

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A Second Chance

In 2014, CAST’s Noodsberg Community Co-ordinator, Bongani Mkhize, heard about a boy on CAST’s soccer team who was not attending school.  When Bongani visited him to find out what was going on, the boy, Siyanda ‘Zakwe’, explained that his family was unable to afford a school uniform.  Zakwe lived with his father, grandmother and other family members, none of whom were working.

Moved by his story, Bongani filled a CAST donation form and was able to access the R500.00 needed for the uniform.  Thanks to the assistance from CAST, Zakwe went back to school, and in 2016 he finished Grade 12.

This year Zakwe came back to Bongani’s office to thank him.

Zakwe said it was CAST that helped him to change his mind, as he was about to give up school and look for a job because of the lack of support at home.

However providing something as simple as a school uniform kept Zakwe in school and gave him a second chance at his education.

At CAST, we believe in empowering youth to become resilient, value education, achieve their dreams and become leaders in their community.  CAST accomplishes this through providing various youth development programmes, with the support of sport coaches, mentors and CAST staff.  We are invested in transforming lives through holistic programmes that actually empower youth to overcome their circumstances.

You too can make a difference in the life of a young person by getting involved with CAST’s Youth Development Department.  Contact George Mwaura at george@cast.org.za to find out more about how you can join the movement.

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Soccer Boots for All

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Everyone loves buying a new pair of shoes!  In fact, just trying on new shoes can make your day better.

Last month the youth involved with CAST’s soccer teams in Noodsberg and Chibini received their own brand new shoes and socks.  For some of them it was their very first pair of new soccer boots.  CAST was only able to provide this gift through a generous donation from Community Chest.

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Over the last five years, CAST has seen a tremendous growth in the amount of youth involved with our rural soccer teams.  Our biggest challenge has been to provide the teams with soccer boots.  In the past, we relied on second hand donated shoes which were a challenge to find, and therefore most of the players didn’t have proper soccer boots, or played with no boots at all. The majority of the participants come from poor households and could not raise R600 ($44) for a new pair of soccer boots that would actually last more than just a few months.

The teenagers we work with oftentimes have low self-esteem. We have noticed whenever we attend games, coming from a poor community, most players feel embarrassed wearing worn out shoes.  The new soccer boots have boosted their self-esteem as they are able to play comfortably and with pride.  Also, the new soccer boots protect players’ feet from being injured by thorns in the ground.

In CAST’s Youth Development Programme, we believe in empowering youth to become resilient, so they are able to overcome challenges and provide solutions in their own communities.  By building the self-esteem of youth, they are able to stand up and make a positive impact in their communities.

To find out more about how you can impact the life of a young person through CAST, please contact George Mwaura at: george@cast.org.za

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Girls’ Camp 2016

 

 

 

IMG_8239Thanks to everyone who got involved, CAST’s first ever Girls’ Camp, Ubuhle Bembokodo, was a huge success! The amount of support we received for this camp was incredible, and all of your prayers, encouraging words and donations are so appreciated.

 

We had 40 girls and 16 leaders attend camp this year, many of whom had never been to a camp before. Activities included Bible studies, splatter painting, boot camp at the beach and an obstacle course where girls overcame their fears.IMG_8071

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IMG_8140.JPGWe also had talks and activities around identity where they expressed their likes, dislikes, and relationships whether it be with God, family and friends, as well as their hopes. In addition, campers discussed the camp theme: the beauty and strength of a woman.

We believe it is so important for young girls to come together, support each other and grow together in Christ. We cannot thank you enough for helping us give these girls an opportunity to do just that.

Our organisation depends on amazing people like you who truly believe in making a positive difference in the communities of KwaZulu-Natal.  You are helping us to move beyond charity to transform communities and further the Kingdom of God!

Thank you again!

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Ayanda

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As someone who never liked school, Ayanda made the decision to drop out of Grade 9 in 2010.  It wasn’t until two years later in 2012 when Ayanda joined the Clan and met Lawrence Nkomo, CAST’s Youth Development Intern at the time, that his life changed.

Ayanda with the Clan

Ayanda with the Clan

Later Ayanda was invited to Boys2Men Camp by George Mwaura, and there his eyes were opened to the importance of education.  He made up his mind to pursue a B com in Accounting, and applied at University of Pretoria.  However, when his plans didn’t work out, he went to Durban University of Technology to apply for whatever was available.  Then after studying six months, Ayanda was unable to secure government loans (NSFAS) and was forced to drop out.

These challenges did not stop Ayanda from continuing his education.  Instead, Ayanda looked at educational opportunities outside of Durban, where there were more openings for learners.  He also worked a part-time job during the holidays to save money for university and help out his grandmother, who cares for his three siblings.

Now Ayanda has started his first year at the University of Zululand and is studying logistics management.  Ayanda was able to use his savings from his part-time job to cover his registration fee entirely, and CAST assisted him in reserving accommodation.

As Ayanda explains, “Moving away from home has been a great experience.  It’s what I always wanted and I’ve learned to be independent.”

CAST believes in encouraging young people to pursue further education in order to equip them to be self-sufficient and productive in their communities.  We believe that communities are transformed when young people are able to pursue their education and give back to their home communities.  While Ayanda has worked very hard to cover most of his university expenses on his own, he still needs some support with the additional cost of textbooks, stationary, etc.  If you are interested in empowering Ayanda to pursue his education, please contact George Mwaura at: george@cast.org.za