Posted on December 03, 2013 by Natalie Gerber

In 2011 I headed back home to Durban, South Africa.  While visiting I wanted to get involved perhaps teach a workshop or volunteer.  I planned to be there a couple months and wanted to see what was happening in the rural arts community.

While at a family braai (BBQ) I met Brigitte who was working with a group of people in a local township through the organization CAST.

“KwaZulu-Natal has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. The devastation of this pandemic is leaving communities poverty stricken, children without parents, and desperate youth looking for hope. The Church Alliance for Social Transformation is a social upliftment initiative run in partner-ship with community churches and schools. Our purpose: “Mobilising and aligning local churches to reach out with practical compassion, to empower and transform lost and hurting communities.”

CAST is the critical agent which provides structure and coordination of programmes, maintains the administrative infrastructure, raises funds to keep them going, and helps to make sure the programmes we provide are at the very highest level, produce real, bringing long-term transformation and not causing dependency. All our programmes are “grassroots” by nature, being run by ordinary people, for ordinary people, but in ways that bring extra-ordinary results.”

Over several weeks I attending business forum meetings, one of CAST's programs, in Kwa-Dabeka Township with Brigitte. I ran a series of art & design workshops.  The word around town spread quickly and along with that the interest in art. I’m sure there could not have been more than 20 people the first week which quickly grew.

Over the past couple years this project has grown into a fair trade opportunity where artists are paid for the use of their imagery for print.