World Children’s Day – The Kolisi Foundation’s Commitment
World Children’s Day serves as a powerful reminder of our shared responsibility to the next generation. It is a day that highlights the remarkable initiatives undertaken by the Kolisi Foundation, spearheaded by South African rugby captain Siya Kolisi and his wife, Rachel Kolisi. Their steadfast dedication to the well-being of children and community development is evident, and since its inception, the Foundation has made significant strides in championing the welfare of children.
Siya and Rachel Kolisi currently live in France, but have an unwavering connection to their roots in South Africa, where inequality and child poverty remains a pressing issue. Rachel is the CEO and gives leadership to the The Kolisi Foundation in its various programmes and initiatives to change the stories of inequality, to see thriving communities. –
No social issue exists in isolation; individuals experience a multitude of interconnected challenges. The Kolisi Foundation has three integrated focus areas: Food Security, Gender-based Violence, and Education and Sport. Siya and Rachel believe children are not the future; they are the present. When children are free to dream their wildest dreams without the limitations of poverty, lack of support, and opportunity, only then can we claim our full humanity and dignity.
In line with their commitment to education and sport, the Kolisi Foundation launched the ‘Siyaphakama’ Zwide Schools Project in 2022. This project, named after Siya Kolisi and his mother, Phakama, meaning “We Are Rising,” aims to tackle the challenges facing township youth by creating a tailor-made program addressing physical education, malnutrition, academic education, life skills, and youth employment. Siyaphakama is a collaborative initiative between the Kolisi Foundation, Ubuntu Pathways, United Through Sport, and KaziBantu, with a mission to develop healthy, active, emotionally, and academically stronger children while contributing to the broader development of the Zwide Community and beyond.
Siyaphakama provides internship opportunities to young people appointed as sport coordinator interns; physical education programming; infrastructure upgrades to existing facilities; an after-school inter-school sports league; breakfast nutrition support; capacity-building and skills development for coaches and teachers; and sport kit and equipment distribution to the six Zwide primary schools participating in the project.
The six Zwide schools participating include Siya’s primary school, Emsengeni Primary School, Isaac Booi Primary School, Daniels Lower Primary, Sithembile Junior School, Garret Primary School, and Ubuntu Pathways Primary School. These schools are at the heart of the Kolisi Foundation’s Education and Sportflagship project, with full funding secured for 2023 through strategic partnerships with adidas, TotalEnergies Marketing South Africa, KFC Add Hope, and Freedom of Movement.
The Siyaphakama project goes beyond physical education, incorporating afterschool interschool sports leagues and supplemental nutrition. Sport Coordinators oversee daily physical education lessons and after-school sports at each school. The interschool sports league, launched in August 2022, has become a highlight, attracting 500 supporters to the first rugby match between two participating schools.
The project also includes teacher training programs, equipping educators with tools for facilitating physical education lessons.
As Siya and Rachel Kolisi continue their work from France, the Kolisi Foundation remains dedicated to the Siyaphakama project, excited about the opportunities that will arise from this new chapter. Their collaborative efforts in education, sport, and youth development are creating pathways for a brighter tomorrow.
On this World Children’s Day, let us celebrate organizations like the Kolisi Foundation and their transformative projects. By joining hands with the Kolisi Foundation, we contribute to a lasting legacy, ensuring that every child has the chance they deserve. Together, one child at a time, we can rise and craft a better future.
Feature image captured by Carli Ann Smith