Driven by the desire to serve and help others, South Africa’s Rugby World Cup-winning Captain Siya Kolisi and his philanthropist wife Rachel founded the Kolisi Foundation. This foundation seeks to change the narrative of inequality in South Africa by uplifting and supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. They have a particular passion for the youth and are actively working to build a better future for younger generations.
Growing up in Zwide, a township in the Eastern Cape, Siya Kolisi often went to bed hungry. “Going to bed without food in my stomach, that is one thing I don’t wish upon anybody… hunger. There is nothing worse than listening to your stomach grumble in the middle of the night,” says Siya Kolisi. Now, Siya and Rachel are dedicated to making sure others don’t have to go through the same experiences.
With the arrival and spread of COVID-19 in South Africa, the need among disadvantaged communities has intensified. As a result, the Kolisis fast-tracked the launch of the Kolisi Foundation to be able to use it as a platform to help the country during the pandemic.
#Each1Feed1 to combat effects of COVID-19
The restrictions of lockdown and its effects have left many vulnerable South African families who rely on government grants or minimum wage in a dire state. Due to this strain, breadwinners faced unemployment and households went without food. To combat these adverse effects, the Kolisi Foundation shifted its focus to provide sustainable food relief to South Africans.
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 are able to provide 1 000 children and elders with daily meals. To date, the Kolisi Foundation also distribute 14 000 food parcels that supports more than 84 000 individuals. “We believe in sustainability and our projects are not once-off but strive to support the communities for a minimum of 3 months. We partnered with Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Imbumba Foundation on the #Each1Feed1 campaign,” explains Rachel.
The #Each1Feed1 initiative started as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak and aims to provide relief to various families in the form of food parcels, masks, and sanitary products. This partnership enables the Kolisi Foundation to support a family of 6 for a month at only R600. “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.
Focusing on the future of South African youth
After Siya’s mother passed away when he was 15, he went to live with his grandparents. It was around the same time that a then-anonymous donor paid for him to attend the prestigious Grey High School in Port Elizabeth – a school the donor himself had once attended. Siya says this was a major breakthrough for him, adding that “from that day on my life changed completely. My dream is to provide more opportunities for our youth to realize that whether they live in the suburbs or a township, they can be anyone they want to be.”
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 it not the future now? Because the youth have 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.
The Kolisis believe it is important to consider what the future will look like with the youth we are raising up today, the challenges that they are facing, and how we can equip the youth to rise above these challenges.
Recently, Siya challenged his former high school to raise funds to support his primary school in Zwide Township. These funds were used to provide food support to the pupils and their families for 3 months. According to the Foundation, the more children are exposed to communities and environments that are different from theirs, the better. It not only gives them a greater perspective of South Africa as a whole, but also a greater perspective of their reality. It educates the youth on real issues and teaches them to use more than their voice and be do-ers of their generation. There is no more time to remain silent about the challenges people face because they don’t affect you, the young generation of today is South Africa’s future.
You can follow the Kolisi Foundation initiatives and projects on their social media channels and website: