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Discover the inspiring journey of Londiwe, an area manager for Star for Life in South Africa, as she shares her passion for supporting coaches, motivating teachers, and empowering students in underprivileged communities. Through heartfelt stories and reflections, Londiwe illuminates the transformative impact of small gestures and organizational support on the lives of children. 

Join author Hanna Ingesson in this uplifting interview, celebrating Londiwe’s resilience, optimism, and unwavering commitment to creating a brighter future through education and compassion. 

Hero interview 1


It’s been a while but I remember that day in August like it was yesterday. I mean the day I met Londiwe in person for the first time. Since Londiwe is an important link between us Star for Life ambassadors and the schools, we have been communicating through emails before. But on this day, when we met and exchanged the first “Hello,” I instantly felt a connection with her. Her energy and smile struck me like lightning. 

Londiwe has been working for Star for Life since 2007. For the first eleven years, she worked as a life skills coach in various Star for Life sites in South Africa. Then she started as a project officer for Daughters of Africa for three years — a project she speaks of with great passion that lies close to her heart. In 2022, she was promoted to area manager and now leads eleven coaches working across 24 schools, among them Mmemezi High School and Nibela Primary School, two of the three schools that Sigma Technology sponsors. 


I asked her what her main responsibilities as an area manager are.

 — I support coaches in making things easier for them. I have been a coach myself for a very long time, and now, being on the other side, I know what they need, and I can provide support for them. I tried my very best to give them what I wanted from my manager when I was a coach. Then, I do teacher workshops to motivate teachers and make them love their job because there is nothing that can inspire learners more than an inspired teacher! Londiwe tells me that through teacher workshops, they try to motivate the teachers to believe and listen to the learners — which is not a matter of course. Each school wants to create a healthy environment for children to grow, one where they are listened to and trusted. How much work it takes to get a school and teachers on track can vary a lot because the schools differ a lot in terms of where they are situated and in leadership. 

— As an area manager, you need to see every school where they are right now and bring them forward to where you want to take them. If the school is situated in a poor area, it might be hard for the teachers to motivate the learners because what the learners really need is food and clothes, something the teachers cannot provide. But you always have to say like, I’m here with you, I see it like you see it, how do we go forward together? The Swedish school system is way ahead. For me, it would be unthinkable to send my kids to school without knowing they are both seen as important individuals and that they are in a safe environment. But I understand it takes time to change, and I can only imagine the difficulties in bringing the schools forward and changing the mindsets of teachers.


 I asked Londiwe what the biggest challenges in her work are.

— It is a lot. Sometimes, you feel you are overstretched and that you are not doing enough for all the coaches. I always wish I could do more. It is hard when you hear about different challenges the coaches face that we cannot help with. We can offer counselling, but that is not enough when a learner says he or she hasn’t eaten, doesn’t have a school uniform, or doesn’t have a calculator. But sometimes you hear from coaches that say, “I just couldn’t listen anymore, so I went and bought a shirt,” or “I bought shoes,” or “I bought rice.” Sometimes it is just better to take what is yours and give it away. It is heartbreaking hearing some of the stories Londiwe tells me and I can understand it feels like baby steps towards her envisioned future. I wonder what keeps her motivated during the hardest times.

 — It is that I am doing a good thing. I am contributing to a work that I think that if God was here, he would do. We are doing something good for the children and when they are adults they will remember that there were people who believed in them and pushed them towards things that they didn’t even know they were capable of doing. 

She continues: — My family also keeps me motivated. Then, I love the support we have for each other within Star for Life. There is always someone I can call who will listen and support me. Having this strong support system at work and within your family helps you continue to believe that you are on the right track and doing something good. Tough times will pass, challenging times don’t last, and the good times are much more beautiful.


 Londiwe’s joyful spirit makes me believe she spreads a lot of joy at work, so I asked what the biggest joy at work is for her. 

— The biggest joy is listening to our success stories and what we have done. It makes me so happy, and it feels fulfilling to hear about the impact we have made on other people’s lives. Things that — when you are in the middle of it — feel like a drop in the ocean can have a big impact on the rest of these children’s lives. You know you are contributing to something positive. 


I asked Londiwe to pick a success story to share with us. I can tell she has many and that it is hard to pick only one but she shares one from when she worked as a coach.

 — A lady who is now an accounting teacher contacted me on Facebook and asked if I remembered her. She said, “The first bra I wore was yours, and you made me feel beautiful.” And, of course, I remembered her. She was once a kid of mine at one of my schools. When her breasts were getting bigger, I brought a bra to her and asked if she wanted to try it. She told me that I empowered her, made her feel confident, and filled her with self-esteem. She was a brilliant student, and I am so happy she herself is now teaching!


 Since Londiwe is the area manager of two of our three schools’ Sigma sponsors, I asked her if the work we do as Star for Life ambassadors has an impact on the schools.

 — Yes, a lot. For example, you can tell by the way the principal of Mmemezi High School talks highly about Sigma. He feels that Sigma is a part of the school and that you want the school to do well because you care about the school and help them see their potential and how they can be better.

She continues: — And then the gifts you give to us, supporting the matric farewell dance and the donations of computers, mean an excellent deal for the learners. The extra things you give make people feel confident, important, and seen, which I think all of us want to feel. We really appreciate your help, we really do.


The interview is coming to an end. Londiwe tells me that she thinks Sweden is a clean and beautiful country. She is impressed with how we in Sweden travel with bikes all over and that there are even special bike marks on the road. She also loves how pedestrians are respected in traffic, no matter how much you would wave and show drivers you want to pass the street in South Africa, no one would ever let you pass. We also start discussing new projects that would help the schools and learners move forward to a brighter future and some really great ideas pop up. Ideas involving how to bring and show more of the world to learners in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. To inspire them and motivate them to work hard in school.  

Another dream project would be doing something within the initiative of Daughters of Africa. Before we say goodbye, we start talking about our families and realize we have kids of the same ages. We laugh a lot and can state that even though there is a world between us, we both face similar challenges as mothers. I guess that this is where that instant connection is coming from — an understanding mother-to-mother. We exchanged phone numbers, and suddenly, with WhatsApp’s help, the world between us no longer felt that big.

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Hanna Ingesson

Sigma’s Star for Life ambassador, who has been engaging with three schools in South Africa.