This article was first published on CSRNEWSSA.
When Covid-19 hit our shores, Siya and Rachel Kolisi fast-tracked the launch of the Kolisi Foundation – a platform to help the country during the pandemic.
Siya, who currently captains the South African rugby team, knows what it’s like to go to bed hungry. Growing up in Zwide, a township in the Eastern Cape, this was a regular occurrence. “Going to bed without food in my stomach, that is one thing I don’t wish upon anybody. There is nothing worse than listening to your stomach grumble in the middle of the night,”says Siya.
Now, Siya and Rachel, who grew up in Grahamstown and studied event management, are dedicated to making sure others don’t have to live with these challanges.
Siya and Rachel spoke to CSRNEWSSA about their foundation and the work they carried out during the pandemic.
What is the vision of the Kolisi Foundation?
The Kolisi Foundation is the couple’s heart project. Their vision is to fight inequality, especially in vulnerable and disadvantaged communities by providing assistance and opportunities through partnerships and collaborations. Siya and Rachel both have a passion for the youth and are actively working to build a better future for younger generations.
What difference did the Kolisi Foundation make during Covid-19?
With the help of strategic partnerships, the Kolisi Foundation was able to provide various soup kitchens, feeding schemes, and struggling communities with food parcels and other resources. With the food support provided by the Kolisi Foundation, these soup kitchens were able to provide a thousand children and elders with daily meals.
We believe in sustainability and our projects are not once-off but strive to support the communities for a minimum of three months. We partnered with Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Imbumba Foundation on the #Each1Feed1 campaign.”Rachel Kolisi
“The effect of the lockdown is much greater than we could have imagined. But helping communities and individuals changes you, it changes how you think. It doesn’t matter how small it is. Just do something for someone else and see how it makes you feel. This is what is driving us right now,” says Siya.
What are the foundation’s plans for the future?
Siya’s mother passed away when he was 15, and he went to live with his grandparents. It was around the same time that a donor paid for him to attend the prestigious Grey High School in Port Elizabeth. Siya says this was a major breakthrough for him. ‘From that day on my life changed completely. My dream is to provide more opportunities for our youth to realise that whether they live in the suburbs or a township, they can be anyone they want to be,’ he says.
This passion for underprivileged youth is a major part of the Kolisi Foundation’s overall mission. They ask themselves: If the youth are the future of our nation, but the majority of the South African population is below the age of 35, is the future not now? Because the youth has so much power and so much to say, the foundation wants to change the narratives for the underprivileged youth and strengthen the next generation.
“The Kolisi Foundation was the start of our commitment towards this vision, or else it will just be a good intention. We want to see the youth of our nation get equal opportunities to mould them into strong leaders, visionaries and dreamers,” adds Siya.
They ask themselves: If the youth are the future of our nation, but the majority of the South African population is below the age of 35, is the future not now?
The Kolisis believe it is important to consider what the future will look like with the youth we are raising up today. We must consider the challenges that they are facing, and how we can equip them to rise above them.
Building a better future together
The Kolisi Foundation currently has a number of projects underway and some exciting upcoming initiatives. These projects are diverse but all share the same goal: helping those in need, alleviating poverty and addressing real issues. The Kolisi Foundation’s mission are shaped around the following focus areas: Food Security, Leadership & Mentorship, Skills Development & Job Shadowing, Education & Youth Development, Sport Development and Gender Based Violence.
“I pride myself on being South African and sharing that fighting spirit and resilience for whatever challenges are pushed our way,” says Siya. “Together our dream for South Africa is to be a nation where everyone get equal opportunities – where the children living in the township or in the hood have the same opportunity as the kids in the suburbs. We are committed to changing the narrative.”