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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

 

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Fighting Fatherlessness, One Step at a Time

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Determined, committed and consistent, Michael Pieterse is faithful to any goal he pursues.  Comrades has always been on Michael’s bucket list, so when he decided in March 2015 to prepare for Comrades in 2016, he knew it would be his biggest challenge yet.

With the help of a coach, Michael has been training and building up to qualify at the Deloitte Challenge this year.  Everything was going well until last month when Michael had a serious bike accident and injured his arm.  He was unable to train for six weeks.  However, he has been gradually easing back into training as he gains more mobility of his arm.

Michael is no stranger to facing obstacles.  Growing up with a dad who battled with alcohol abuse, Michael learned how to take care of himself from an early age.  He paid for his own education and was forced to become a man without the guidance of a father-figure.  Despite the challenges, Michael learned to have confidence in himself because of his relationship with God.  He discovered that God was his Father, and with that confidence Michael learned to dream big about his life.

Michael is passionate about fighting fatherlessness and helping boys discover what it means to be a man.  As a result, he has decided to run Comrades to raise support for CAST’s 2016 Boys2Men Camp, 30 Sept. – 3 Oct.

This camp came about as a response to the overwhelming need for father-figures in the lives of young men involved with CAST’s Youth Development Programme.  The initial camp took place in November 2010, and the aim of the camp was to give the boys a real father-figure experience. During camp we discovered that 75 percent of the boys in attendance did not have real fathers in their lives. There was a desperate need for guidance, advice, affirmation, and a way for young men to discover their identity. Boys also had an overwhelming spiritual need as most of them did not grow up in Christian homes.

Since 2010, we have hosted Boys2Men Camp annually, and more than 400 boys have had the chance to attend. It has become one of the most impactful short-term programmes at CAST, even attracting international volunteers. Boys2Men’s focus has become transforming boys to men. Every year we have seen many young people give their lives to Jesus. The ongoing sports programme has provided continuing discipleship for the boys and our community churches have also become instrumental in providing spiritual homes for the boys.

As Michael explains,”Running Comrades means nothing unless you do it for something worthy.  Why not use it to change someone’s life for eternity?  I want to help a few boys discover God as their Father.”

Michael wants to send 20 boys to camp (camp costs R350 per boy), and in order to reach this goal of raising R7000, we need your help!  If you are interested in getting involved, here’s how:

  1. You can give R4 per kilometre that Michael runs.  If Michael finishes the entire 90 km race, you will have raised enough support for a boy to attend camp!
  2. You can also give R4 per kilometre that Michael runs for the distance of a marathon (42 km), which is about half of Comrades (R168).

If you would like more information, please contact George Mwaura at: george@cast.org.za

If you want to give directly by EFT or Givengain here are our details:

Nedbank, Branch: Westville Mall/138026

Account: CAST Trust, No: 101 7717 672

Givengain: https://www.givengain.com/cause/4933/campaigns/16861