Wallonia Brussels extends its support to the Sizanani mentorship07/04/2016

Sizanani, meaning ‘Help each other’ in Zulu language, is a mentorship program that was started in 2007 by Linda Giuricich, a South African who works at St Mary’s (the oldest girls school in Johannesburg), together with Laurence Le Blanc, from the French company RATP (that is managing the speed train between Johannesburg and Pretoria with a local partner). Since 2008, the whole project is coordinated by Valérie Hirsch, an independent Belgian journalist who is based in Johannesburg since 1996.

The purpose of this program is to allow disadvantaged students from the Alexandra township to access university by giving them extra classes and coaching them in their choice of studies. The whole program is based on the work of volunteers and mentors who take time off to guide and coach these young people.

When, as part of the 2013 Belgian trade delegation to SA, led by H.R.H. Princess Astrid of Belgium, then Minister-President Rudy Demotte visited Alexandra with Pascale Delcomminette, they were introduced to the Sizanani mentorship program.

Moved by the dedication and will to succeed from learners, teachers and mentors, Mr Demotte promised the federation’s support by way of a €20,000 sponsorship to pay for studies’ fees for some of the students. This commitment was renewed in 2014 and in 2015, allowing a total of 20 learners to fulfil their dreams to study at university.

“S.A. faces major funding issues for higher education. The importance of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s support cannot be overstated”, says Valérie Hirsch. “Many top students need bursaries. We are continually trying to raise funds among SA companies. It’s difficult, which is why we are so grateful for such a contribution”.