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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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Hope for the Future: Judith’s Story

By Rolan Gulston

cast-judith-volunteer-hope-mariannridge01Since joining CAST as a programme participant two years ago, 31-year-old Judith Abrams has made a valuable impact in giving back to her community as a volunteer for CAST’s Child Literacy and Youth Development programmes.

Judith came to know CAST through a friend who worked at the Mariannridge CAST Community Centre assisting in the facilitation of programmes. She then signed up to participate in the Business Experience and Business Growth courses to learn how she could improve her own small business of selling cooked food from home, which she has been running for the past 2 years.

After successfully completing the course and graduating in 2018, Judith felt a renewed passion to expand her business, which she co-runs with her sister. Firstly, by registering her enterprise, “Judith’s Fast Food”, and then applying to the Local Councillor for permission to operate at the community taxi rank, the busiest spot in the area. Her long-term goal is to invest her profits into starting a franchise.

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Since learning these new skills, Judith feels a greater sense of self-belief and hope for the future. She looks forward to joining CAST’s sewing team in Mariannridge and would like to learn how to make evening attire, as there is a big market for Matric dance outfits in her community. Judith also dreams of pursuing a career in nursing, particularly in paediatrics, as she feels called to work with children.

This love of children drew her to volunteering with CAST as a tutor for the Word Works Early Literacy programme for Grade One’s, as well as facilitating the Resilience Life Orientation programme for the Grade Six learners at Mariannridge Primary School, a stone’s throw away from the CAST Community Centre.

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Learning how to teach Foundational Literacy using the Word Works material has helped Judith beyond the classroom in assisting her son who experiences learning difficulties due to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She has developed a greater understanding of his cognitive-developmental level and has learnt how to be more patient with him.

The Resilience programme forms part of the national Life Orientation school curriculum, guiding children in the pre-teen age group to make ‘smart moves’ and work towards achieving their goals. Mentoring the children in this programme has created the space for Judith to form strong, supportive relationships with the youth in her community.

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The programme has helped Judith to “become one with the children in the community. They open up more,” she says. Having a 12-year-old daughter herself, Judith enjoys mentoring this age group as they move into their teen years and need more guidance through the many changes in their development, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Two children that Judith has worked with, in particular, have made great strides in improving their behaviour. One, a young boy bullied about his weight, who, in turn, started bullying others, has since stopped picking fights at school. Another, a young girl who turned to alcohol to cope with personal difficulties, invited Judith to join her family Sunday lunch and has been encouraged by Judith to make better choices.

Growing up in challenging circumstances, Judith knows first-hand the undue strain that these children experience when they are forced to grow up too quickly and take on adult responsibilities at home, often turning to harmful substances to alleviate the pressure. Her family did not have a steady income, and she suffered through an abusive relationship with her aunt. Other than her sister whom she currently lives with, Judith has little family support – her mother having passed away when she was younger, and her father remarrying and moved away. The father of Judith’s two children died tragically in a motorcycle accident.

Becoming a mother gave Judith the strength to stand up for herself and move past the pain. She has since made peace with the aunt who raised her and continues to pray for her. Being part of a strong spiritual community at a church in Mariannridge also helps Judith to feel supported and make positive changes in her life.

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Judith believes that there is hope, too, for the youth in her community. The key, she says, is “to stand together, and show them that we care.” Spending time consistently engaging with children and youth in the programmes have shown to have a significant positive impact on their development. If you would like to get involved in mentoring or tutoring in one of CAST’s target communities, contact us at: info@cast.org.za or call (+27) 31 266 8830 for more information.

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boy2Man: Ayanda’s story

The CAST Annual Boys2Men Camp is one of the highlights of our year where we get to spend uninterrupted time with the young men in our communities and address the desperate need for guidance, advice, affirmation, and create a way for these boys to discover their identity. 

Below is the story of one of these boys whose life has been greatly impacted through this camp, as well as the ongoing support of mentors and volunteers:

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Twenty-two year old Ayanda from KwaDabeka has come a long way since joining CAST’s Sport & Youth Development programme six years ago. His quiet demeanor and lack of confidence told of his unhappiness at school, where the teachers seemingly lacked the capacity to give learners like Ayanda individual assistance.

This changed when he started receiving after-school tutoring in Mathematics and Physical Science facilitated by CAST, which enabled him to start passing Maths and Accounting after having failed his first term of Matric. This was a turning point in Ayanda’s life, which sparked his motivation to study further.

Ayanda was also a member of CAST’s basketball team, THE CLAN, based at KwaDabeka Baptist Church. He had the opportunity to attend the annual boys2Men Camp where he gained a strong sense of discipline and self-efficacy, so much so, that in his first year of studying at the University of Zululand, others often mistake him for a 3rd or 4th year student.

Ayanda received a bursary to study Logistics Management and, through the generous outreach of a Westville Baptist Church member, has been offered a placement to complete his in-service training this year. Once qualified, Ayanda would like to work in Durban or Richard’s Bay, and pursue his dream of running his own Logistics Company to create employment opportunities for others.

As an ‘old boy’ of the CAST Sport & Youth Development programme, Ayanda is also keen to give back to his community in tutoring and mentoring of younger boys involved in the programme. Although his path has not been easy, Ayanda continues to pray each day and embraces learning new skills and applying what he has been taught throughout his years with CAST.

To learn more about how you can get involved in mentoring our youth in the communities, contact George at: george@cast.org.za or (031)266 8830. If you would like to sponsor boys to attend camp at R350,00 each, banking details are as follows:

CAST Trust

First National Bank

Branch code: 250655

Acc no: 62762010248

Ref: “Boys Camp”

 

 

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Shooting for the Stars: Bryan’s Story

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On his way home from school one day, 14-year-old Samkelo Bryan Cele, learnt something that would change his life. Being tall in stature, a friend invited him to join the CAST Basketball team that trained at KwaDabeka Baptist church. Without any former knowledge of the sport, or the right kit, Bryan went to check it out.

At first, it was tough. The other boys had skills and experience that far outweighed young Bryan playing in a pair of construction boots. Growing up as the eldest son in a family of seven with a single parent, Bryan faced scrutiny for investing so much of his time into basketball, especially since soccer was the more popular sport in his community. With the added sorrow of his grandfather’s passing, he stopped playing for a year.

Despite not being a part of the team, CAST had become a “home away from home” for Bryan – a safe space away from the dangers of peer pressure where he learnt about brotherhood, and what it meant to have a personal relationship with God in daily life as the boys would pray before and after each training session.

He started playing again in grade 9, this time, with a strong determination to improve his skills. As part of CAST’s focus on youth development, our mentoring programme seeks to break the cycle of fatherlessness in the communities by connecting young people with role models. Our goal is not that mentors would solve all their mentees’ problems, but rather that mentors would empower their mentees to solve their own problems. From equipping Bryan with his very first pair of trainers to sponsoring a trip to attend a basketball camp in Serbia, Bryan was blessed to have the mentorship of Mike Cox, a member of Westville Baptist Church, who whole-heartedly invested in Bryan’s future.

As the years went by, Bryan steadily got better and better. His talent drew the attention of selectors at regional tournaments, and he was subsequently offered a scholarship to attend Durban High School. His vision broadened as he began to see the many doors that had opened for him to opportunities that someone from ‘the hood’ would not ordinarily have access to.  One such opportunity was being selected to attend the aforementioned basketball training camp in Serbia, as well as in the USA where Bryan was awarded the title of ‘Most Valuable Player’.

Bryan is now in his second year at The University of Oklahoma, USA where he was awarded a scholarship to play basketball and is academically pursuing a degree in Business Law. Once qualified, his dream is to use his entrepreneurial skills to build a support structure for those from a similar background with limited opportunities. “Basketball was my out,” he says.

“I know I’m not the only one who can do it. They need God, hope and motivation.”

Bryan is deeply grateful for the generosity of donors and the support of CAST mentors and coaches, through which, God has worked to transform Bryan’s life. His advice to those who aspire to achieve the same goal is simple: “Believe. Work. And pray.”

If you would like to help make this dream a reality for more youth in our communities, contact George on 031 266 8830 or email george@cast.org.za.

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Spinach & Soccer

 

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Rain or shine, you won’t find Sibu sitting in his house.

A typical day for Sibu starts with tending his farm: cabbage, spinach, green pepper, mealies and green beans.  By noon he is finished and ready to help out in his community.  Between attending Noodsberg Baptist Church, coaching CAST’s Noodsberg soccer team, participating in CAST’s Business Forum and teaching community members how to farm, Sibu keeps busy.

Sibu first started giving back to his community by coaching soccer.  He noticed that the boys did not have a coach – you can read the full story here.

But as Sibu explains,”The aim is not about soccer, it’s about the church.”

It was at boys2Men camp last year that Sibu came to know Jesus, which changed his life forever.  Now Sibu wants his boys on the soccer team to also experience the same transformation.

That’s why he has the team pray when they finish playing, and makes sure that the boys are in church on Sundays and Wednesdays.

It’s why he visits the boys at home, connecting with their families and getting to know the challenges they face.

It’s why he teaches the boys how to farm, and gives them a chance to get work experience.

As a ‘big brother’, Sibu walks alongside his boys, preparing them for adulthood.  He encourages them to stay in Noodsberg, because he knows the importance of having positive role models for the younger children.

More recently, Sibu has been involved with CAST’s Business Forum in Noodsberg.  After 3 months he became a Paradigm Shift trainer, as he found more and more people approaching him to learn about farming.

This month Sibu decided to raise money for home gardens in Noodsberg by selling seedlings.  In a matter of just a few minutes, he raised R150.

Sibu explains his motivation for this project, “I want people not to ask me for food, but to grow their own food – that’s why I am selling seedlings.”

Volunteers like Sibu, who are passionate about their communities, are vital to sustainable community development in the areas where CAST works.  Sibu is using simple opportunities like farming spinach and coaching soccer to transform his community for the Kingdom of God.  If you would like to know more about how you can become a CAST volunteer like Sibu, email volunteers@cast.org.za to find out more information.

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Leading By Example

 

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This month as we celebrate the role of women in our lives, as wives, mothers, aunts, sisters, and daughters, let us not forget the role all women can play as mentors in the lives of young girls around us.

Back when CAST first started working in KwaDabeka, one such relationship made a huge impact in the life of a young girl.

Thandeka was a teenager in KwaDabeka, surrounded by few positive female role models she could look up to.  More often than not, women warned her to avoid making the same mistakes they had made as young girls – a negative message of “don’t do this”.

However, one of CAST’s social workers at the time reached out to Thandeka.  The social worker took the time to build a trusting and caring mentoring relationship with her.

As Thandeka explains, “Most of who I am is because of the work she [her mentor] did with CAST.”

Now as a leader in her community, Thandeka takes the time to mentor young girls in KwaDabeka.  She believes in the power of leading by example.

Recently she attended CAST’s first ever girls’ camp, and was excited to see girls exposed to other opportunities.  She believes that when girls have something that occupies their time, gives them purpose and keeps them accountable, such as CAST’s Youth Development Programme, then real change happens.  It is only through these long-term caring relationships that girls can overcome obstacles such as peer pressure.

This month as we take time to celebrate women, let’s lead by example.  You too can make an impact in the life of a young person.  If you would like to mentor an individual in one of the communities where CAST works, please contact Dale Nunes at: dale@cast.org.za

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Ubuhle Bembokodo: Girls Camp 2016

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Since 2010, CAST has hosted a boys2Men Camp for young men.  However in July, CAST will be hosting our first ever camp for girls called Ubuhle Bembokodo, meaning ‘the beauty and strength of a woman’.  Earlier in the year, women from Westville and other local communities came together to brainstorm about the camp.  As a result, camp focus topics will include: identity, beauty, strength, purity, women leaders, worthiness, self-esteem, confidence, healing the wounds and daughters of the King.

Here’s what you need to know about the camp:

When: 8-10 July 2016

Where: Camp Anerley (South Coast)

Who: 40 young girls (ages 13-17) selected from the CAST youth programmes run in local communities

Cost: The girls will raise R170 individually & CAST will sponsor R350 for each girl

How you can get involved:

-Sponsor a girl to attend camp (R350)

-Volunteer as a camp leader

-Donate materials: acrylic paints & brushes, compact mirrors, clay, skewers & cling wrap.

-Donate food items: eggs, popcorn, marie biscuits, marshmallows, chocolate, hot dog rolls, chicken viennas, margarine, tomato sauce, milo, juice, salt & aromat.

-Donate other items: table tennis balls & bats, torches, toilet paper, bath soap & toothpaste.

For more information contact Thandi Gova at: thandi@cast.org.za or 072 037 0884

Let’s empower girls together in the name of Christ!