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The Sizanani Mentorship Programme (“Sizanani”) was launched in 2007 by Laurence Le Blanc from RATP international, the French company which operates the Gautrain. Since then, the programme has been helping high school learners from Alexandra township in Johannesburg to succeed in their studies and gain access to universities through the provision of mentors, career information and bursaries.



Sizanani works in collaboration with St. Mary’s School in Waverley (Johannesburg), which offers extra classes on Saturdays and holidays (Ikusasa Lethu project) to more than 300 Grade 9,10, 11 and 12 learners from Alexandra high schools. Most of the learners are girls. The Grade 12 class of 2019 consisted of 60 learners, 95% achieved a pass, 63% have received university passes and 32% have received diploma passes. Out of  54 Matriculants, 32 enrolled into Universities and private colleges 

Mentors play a crucial role by providing mentees with career information, counselling and motivation. In addition, Sizanani hosts speakers to motivate the learners and provide them with career information. Companies and campus visits are also organised, as well as job shadowing and workshops. Sizanani helps Grade 12 learners to enrol at the University of Johannesburg and other tertiary institutions. Funding of university students has also been made available by our sponsors.

82 mentors (67 % women) have been part of Sizanani in 2020. Among them, 46 % are from South Africa and 45 % are French expatriates. They are looking after 113 mentees (8 Gr 9, 21 Gr 10, 43  Gr 11 and 37 Gr 12). 



Fondation RATP logo

The Fondation RATP (France) has been funding our students since 2013. 

Bobela Operating Company logo

The Bombela Operating Company has  awarded bursaries to Sizanani learners since 2015.

Federation Wallonie Bruxelles logo

Since 2014, la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Belgium) has been the main sponsor of Sizanani, also providing funding to more than 30 students.

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Sizanani mentor testimony

"Watching these teenagers develop into adults and knowing that in a little way, I helped them on that journey is heartening." (Emiola Abass, mentor)

Sizanani mentee testimony

"We are like family. I have learnt a lot and experienced a lot.  I’ve seen things that I have never seen before and she helped us to see other people and different cultures." (Siphokazi Dzova, mentee)

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“My mentees are certainly my strongest bond to South Africa. This, for sure, has been a great lesson for me: understanding others' perspective and focusing on small but consistent changes instead of big, ideal dreams” (Fernanda Mendoza, mentor)

Sizanani mentor testimony

"It was great to see the relationship grow with the kids; from hardly having anything to speak about in the beginning to sharing ecstatic laughs. " (Vuyisa  Sobayeni , mentor)

Valerie Hirsch

Valérie Hirsch

Sizanani Director

I am a Belgian journalist, who has been living in Johannesburg since 1996. I am freelancing for various radios and newspapers from Belgium, France and Switzerland. I always wanted to contribute to social change. It took me ten years to find the right programme, Sizanani.  I have been involved in it, with passion, as a mentor (2007-2011) and as a manager from 2008.

T: 083 750 7725


Samantha is a Environmental and Climate Change Specialist with a deep appreciation and understanding of Environmental, Social and Cultural development related issues.  She  possesses a strong passion for empowering women and the youth.

T: 081 319 6532

Samantha Mutoredzanwa

Sizanani Programme Manager


Monique Adams

Sizanani Chairperson,

Career Wise Director

Monique Adams

Mmapula Mnisi

Sizanani Deputy Chairperson, 

Director and Founder of Peak Health & Wellness Solutions

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Mmapula is a diversified and seasoned leader with vast experience in the Public Sector, where she held various specialist and senior management roles. She worked largely in the Human Resources Departments, specialising in Employee Health and Wellness. She served as an Exco member of Human Resources Departments and an interim Departmental Head of HR. Mmapula is a Director and Founder of Peak Health & Wellness Solutions. She is also an Integral Coach and an iEQ9 Practitioner.

Linda Giuricich

Linda Giuricich

Director of Community Affairs

St Mary's School






T: 012 531 18 99

Gregory Knipe

Sizanani Treasurer,

Chief Financial Officer of Gautrain Operator Bombela

Gregory Knipe







T: 083 7962 250

Charles Masegela

Sizanani Secretary

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I am a Service Engineer for AF Compressor.  Sizanani helped me to get funding from RATP Foundation for my studies at UJ and to secure my current job. I have decided to join Sizanani Board to give back to the community by helping learners from Alexandra to succeed in their studies and to secure their dream jobs.

T: 079 189 2884

Robyn Knowles is a counsellor by profession and also teaches English on the Ikusasa Lethu Programme. She runs a private practice in Fourways and runs group therapy sessions for abused women at shelters around Johannesburg. Robyn as been involved with Sizanani for the past two years and, together with her partner, is also a mentor on the programme.

T: 082 6524 118

Robyn Knowles

Ikusasa Lethu Manager

Robyn Knowles

Xolani Mashinini 

Board Member, Mentor

Xolani is a Management Consultant by profession. Outside of that he pursues a variety of interests including music and fitness. He was a founding member of the UCT DJ Society during his time as a student there.

 His involvement with Sizanani is driven by the belief that those who enjoy any level of privilege have a responsibility to use that privilege for the benefit of those without. 

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Nicole Bam

Board Member, Mentor 

Nicole is a business owner, life coach and facilitator who is passionate about inspiring young individuals to reach their full potential and supporting growth to contribute towards job creation and entrepreneurial advancements. Her wide range of expertise and her extensive corporate experience spanning across 15 years in various sectors, allows her to contribute to the programme.

Yvonne Motsoko

Board Member, Mentor 

Yvonne Motsoko







T: 012 7732 654

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