Star for Life and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Agenda 2030 contains 17 global goals set by the UN and accepted by governments around the world. They aim, among other things, to eradicate poverty, realise human rights for all, reduce inequalities and protect the planet and our natural resources.
Star for Life’s work in South Africa, Namibia and Sweden contributes to these countries being able to achieve several of these goals.
We work in 120 schools in southern Africa and just over 50 schools in Sweden. To date over 450,000 learners have taken part in our education programme. The methodology aims to strengthen the self-esteem of children and young people and motivate them to invest in their education and make wise life decisions. By doing this, they can more easily build a better future and, as adults, contribute to a more equal, fair and sustainable society.
The learners that Star for Life works with in Africa all live in poverty. Our message to them is that their difficult upbringing does not have to be their future. We help them focus on a dream – a better future without poverty – and motivate them to change attitudes and avoid behaviours which counteract that dream. Our methodology is unique and through workshops led by professional coaches, learners attain more knowledge, new insights and better self-esteem. Their motivation to invest in school and take care of their health increases – thus also the prospects of shaping a new future. The goal is that no child should have to fall into lifelong poverty, but that with the right tools they should be able to improve their living conditions.
Star for Life’s work in Africa primarily concerns education, but we also work with other organisations to provide support to the young people in our schools. Some of our learners live in particularly difficult circumstances, and without food in their stomachs, it is difficult for them to study or even get to school. Dandelion, one of Star for Life’s partners, focuses on the most vulnerable learners and their families. Among other things, they distribute monthly food packages and provide practical and financial aid to help families start kitchen gardens. The main aim is to be able to put food on the table, but in the long run, the crops can become a sustainable way to support themselves and achieve financial independence.
Health and well-being
When Star for Life started in Africa in 2005, the HIV and AIDS epidemic was at its worst. Initially, the main aim was to reduce the spread of HIV among schoolchildren. We did this by providing information and knowledge about the virus and the disease, as well as by motivating young people to stop behaviours that exposed them to the risk of infection. Since the advent of antiretrovirals, and with HIV no longer posing a deadly threat, the Star for Life programme has become increasingly health and prevention-oriented. The coaches teach about such things as changes during puberty, sexual and reproductive health and the importance of using a condom. To complement the work of the coaches, Star for Life also runs mobile health clinics. Here, a specialised team works with more in-depth teaching, general counselling and testing of, for example, HIV and tuberculosis. In Sweden, the programme focuses on the students’ mental health. We aim to counteract dangerous stress, bullying, social exclusion and, in the long run, suicide.
Good education for everyone
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” This is one of Nelson Mandela’s most famous quotes and the message is completely in line with what Star for Life stands for. We implement our education programme in existing schools which school authorities have identified as being severely disadvantaged and poorly equipped. We support the curriculum, the leadership of principals and the capacity of teachers. We help students focus on their school work so that they can realise their dreams. A secondary aim of our programme is to strengthen the schools and encourage them to adopt a culture that is characterised by the conviction that every student has an inherent potential to realise their dreams.
One of the most important phrases that school students work with in Star for Life workshops is “I decide”. Young people must understand that they themselves have the right to make important decisions that affect their lives – such as being able to say no to sex, alcohol and drugs. Young women in southern Africa are an extremely vulnerable group and we help girls to resist gender norms that affect their ability to grow up to be strong and independent individuals. Another theme of our programme is to help boys understand how they can counter stereotypical gender norms and gender-based violence. In the project Daughters of Africa young women are completely in focus. Through specific new initiatives, we consolidate the work on gender equality, health and goals.The aim is for the girls to graduate with the grades they need to go on to further study or start small businesses, which will provide income and financial independence.
Implementation and global partnerships
Star for Life is currently operating in three countries and has offices, employees and local boards in each country. The head office in Sweden is responsible for fundraising, publicity and strategic planning. All our work is financed through gifts and investments from entrepreneurs, organisations, funds and private individuals. Together, we educate and disseminate knowledge so that a new generation is not left behind as society develops. Star for Life also collaborates with other organisations, such as Swedish Hand in Hand ( Daughters of Africa partner) or, at an international level, USAID, which through its support has made it possible to conduct teaching in 16 schools in Namibia. Regardless of partner or project, the common goal is to contribute to young people being able to achieve their goals in their own strength and grow up to be responsible and aware citizens.