CELEBRATING CHILDREN’S DAY WITH THE KOLISI FOUNDATION


We celebrate International Children's day on 20 November, to highlight the progress made towards the realisation of Children's rights. Also, to honour the approval of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is an international treaty that has been ratified by almost every country in the world, including South Africa.


Globally millions of children and families suffer because of hunger, malnutrition, basic education, violence and live among the worst possible situations. The children of South Africa have experienced some of the extreme effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Organisations such as the Kolisi Foundation have taken big steps to help curb some of these issues, by going deep into these disadvantaged communities to provide food and support for children and their families.

Siya Kolisi is known and well respected for his humanitarian projects together with his wife Rachel Kolisi. The needs of the less fortunate are close to his heart and they have made it their life's mission to help.

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE KOLISI FOUNDATION?
It was something both of us wanted to do. Being months away from the official launch of the Kolisi Foundation, with the unexpected risks and threatened spread of the COVID-19 virus, we had to do something now. As a result, we fast-tracked the launch of the Kolisi Foundation to be able to use it as a platform to help the country during the pandemic.

We didn't have a logo, website, or a team, but our heart was always just to help South Africans and to make a positive impact.



HOW IS THE ORGANISATION WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES?
Collaborative work is at the centre of the Kolisi Foundation's values. We have no intention to reinvent the wheel, but partnering with organisations that are already within the communities we want to serve and help allows us to be more strategic with time and resources. Collaboration allows us as a foundation to learn, grow, and develop to create a sustainable and more impactful change. 

As a foundation, we are focusing mainly on food security, gender-based violence, and the development of the youth using education and sport. Some initiatives are personal to us while some are social issues happening around the country. The Kolisi Foundation seeks to support people living in under-resourced communities in South Africa, by providing resources, facilitating capacity-building and horizontal learning exchanges, mobilising, and advocating for systemic change.

We do this by:
• Mobilising resources to meet opportunities.
• Connecting people and organisations to one another.
• Learning from and with others.
• Amplifying the good work of individuals and organizations as they serve their communities.
• Inspiring individuals, organisations, and companies to get involved.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL FOR CHILDREN?
First of all, we want to make sure that we are good role models for our kids at home. We want to start from there and work from the inside-out. We want to teach them that it is not only about yourself, but also about considering other people. Whatever success you have it is about so many people that you encountered in your life that impacted yours and using what you have received to help others. And from a young age hopefully learn that they can do so much more than just make a living for themselves if they try and help others. We just want to be good people, and if we become role models, that is a bonus. We teach our children strong values at home which are: transparency, honesty, respect, kindness, and love.


HOW IS THE KOLISI FOUNDATION HELPING?
At the Kolisi Foundation, we want to change the narratives of inequality in South Africa.

While we’re doing that, we want to recognise people’s many-faceted stories, and we want to remember that our story is tied to their story. We want to talk about changing things and we want to act to change them. We want to work alongside others, adding our story to the stories of communities and individuals who are changing the world. We want to pay attention to and interrogate the old stories we have been told, and with deep analysis, learn to tell more nuanced stories. We want to make sure that our stories aren’t tales, but are truthful and trustworthy.

We do so by collaborating and partnering with others that are already in the communities we want to assist and help. For example with Langa for Men project, we are amplifying the work that they are already doing in the community. Also, with Ubuntu Pathways that are situated in Zwide in Port Elizabeth. They have the systems and operations already in the community and could assist us to get the food to the community of Zwide.

WHAT DOES THE FOUNDATION BELIEVE SHOULD BE DONE TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN OF SOUTH AFRICA?
One of the greatest effects COVID-19 had on the communities we serve, were people losing their jobs, which resulted in some families not having an income at all. This is an absolute state of desperation amongst families. Therefore electricity, food, and resources are scarce. A recent study indicated that the number of employed persons decreased by 2,2 million to 14,1 million in the 2nd quarter of 2020. With more people unemployed it is often the children that suffer the most.

Besides in a lot of the communities, the children didn’t have an opportunity to go to school during this period, and spending their time with no educational stimulation for such a long period and have not been receiving that one meal they use to get in school.

The most important thing is education and making sure that children grow up being in an environment where they are cared for and loved and can dream of a better future.

More than a decade ago, Siya was the first recipient of the Vincent Mai Bursary Scheme, which allowed him to attend prestigious Grey High in Port Elizabeth. This opened so many opportunities for him and unlocked new dreams. This is the type of opportunity every child needs in South Africa.


WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIG INITIATIVES YOU HAVE BEEN PART OF?
As a foundation, we have a bias toward action. Putting our words into action, showing up, starting somewhere, and doing something. We want to live better stories than we tell.

'A lot of people are going hungry, there were a lot before the pandemic, but with people being cut from work and without a job, they can't even get the little bit of food they used to have every day.' - Siya Kolisi

The main focus of the Kolisi Foundation during this Covid-19 time is to provide sustainable food relief to South Africans, especially focusing on child-headed households, orphans, and the vulnerable. Through our partnerships, we managed to assist communities and families with food vouchers, parcels, and food items for various soup kitchens.

Siya understands the pain of children going to school with an empty stomach. We have recently launched a long-term partnership with Kellogg’s SA aimed at alleviating hunger in communities starting with feeding 4 000 households in Port Elizabeth, and 900 children and elders at Lungi’s Community Kitchens (Siphekela-Isizwe Feeding Scheme) in Cape Town. We are also working to provide food support for all the children from my old primary school, Emsengeni, in Zwide. We realised the importance of creating strategic partnerships to reach more communities.

Besides food support, we are also focused on advocating for Gender-Based Violence. We are active in adding our voice and resources to developing programs for young boys, hosting networking conferences, having conversations amongst men, and distributing Power 2 You Packs to shelters and centres. These are just a few of the initiatives we are running within our GBV programme.

Lastly, we are concentrating on youth and developing education and sports programmes to unlock new opportunities for children in under-resourced communities. This includes supporting afterschool programmes, iPads for curriculum support together with iSchool Africa, supporting staff development, connecting individuals to sport and educational opportunities, and ultimately creating scholarship opportunities for tertiary education.



HAVE YOUR INVOLVED OTHER INFLUENTIAL CELEBS OR SPORTSMEN TO HELP?
We have worked together and partnered with many others as we believe that anything that is happening in our country is only going to work if we work together.

We have worked with Herschel Jantjies on his home ground in Kylemore where he assisted the community with food parcels. We also helped Eben Etzebeth in Langebaan, Faf, and Imari du Plessis in Bonteheuwel and with Bryan Habana and his foundation in Cape Town.

Everywhere where we are doing work, we try to bring people that are in the environment onboard. In Bloemfontein, Wayde van Niekerk joined us for a project where we assisted the community with food parcels during the lockdown period.

WHAT CAN ORDINARY SOUTH AFRICAN DO TO HELP?
We are all the hands and feet for those who are vulnerable. We have heard so many beautiful stories of hope where communities started initiatives and people looking out for each other. As South Africans, we can support organisations and foundations doing work in communities to empower, educate, and support the youth. Advocating for kids to have equal opportunities and making sure that all the children can have big dreams in South Africa. Setting a good example for children in your surroundings is so important. For parents, do what you can for the kids especially giving them the love and support in all that they want to do and dream of.


SIYA COMING FROM THE TOWNSHIP, WHAT WAS YOUR DREAM FOR OTHERS WHO GREW UP LIKE YOU?
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. 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.

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 three 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.

What are the 5 important points about giving back?
It is so important to just “check-in” with the people in your community to see if they need help.
Small efforts can make a big difference.
Remember the one - one by one. Just focus on the one heart, the one person, and the one life that you are changing. To remember that counts. That is more important than anything else, says Rachel Kolisi.

website: www.kolisifoundation.org
Instagram @kolisi_foundation
Facebook @kolisifoundation
Twitter @KolisiFdn



CELEBRATING CHILDREN’S DAY WITH THE KOLISI FOUNDATION CELEBRATING CHILDREN’S DAY WITH THE KOLISI FOUNDATION Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on November 18, 2020 Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.