Rachel and Siya Kolisi founded the Kolisi Foundation with this belief in mind: it is through the power of listening that positive change can happen in South Africa. We need to listen to what people dealing with challenging circumstances really need. We need to listen to the people already working in the community, the other NPOs and NGOs, in order to both learn from them and to better support them.

Listening is the first step. Understanding and action must follow in order to make a meaningful difference. Doing this collaboratively is far more efficient and effective than striding out on one’s own. The commitment to listen, learn, action and collaboration are some of the core values of the Kolisi Foundation.

Collaboration – the route to positive change

Started in 2020, in the middle of a global and devasting pandemic when everyone was talking about a “new normal”, the Kolisi Foundation is working towards a better normal. Partnering with organisations that are already working with the communities that the Kolisi Foundation wants to serve, enables the foundation to be more strategic with its time and resources. Reciprocally, this collaboration helps the foundation learn, grow and develop so that it can help create sustainable and more impactful change within its work.

Whilst it is tempting to help in every way one can, effectiveness comes through focus. The Foundation’s focus is on three inter-related areas: food security, gender-based violence, and the development of the youth through education and sport. These focus areas do not exist in isolation, they are interconnected with deep significance for human flourishing.

“People – are not looking for handouts. What they need are opportunities.”

– Rachel Kolisi

Remember the one, one by one.
It is a humble and sincere philosophy that has already led to connecting with thousands of under-resourced individuals working for change in their communities.

It all starts with food
The biggest ramification of lack of employment (greatly amplified by the lockdown of 2020) is food insecurity, so addressing this was the first focus of the Kolisi Foundation. Through the assistance of NPOs across the country, the Kolisi Foundation identified the communities that were struggling the most. They assisted families in these communities by delivering groceries monthly. This was a continuous short-term intervention but Siya and Rachel are fully cognizant of the fact that the delivery of grocery parcels and any other form of immediate food relief is not going to solve the problem of food insecurity in South Africa. These parcels are, however, a great opportunity for families to take a breath and then get back on their feet.

“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.”

– Rachel Kolisi

Since April 2020, the Kolisi Foundation has distributed more than 42 700 grocery parcels. Each grocery parcel weighs 56kgs and includes dry good staples, fresh fruit and vegetables, household cleaning items and sanitary products.

In addition to this, the foundation has partnered with eight community kitchens. One of these is Lungisa’s community kitchens which supports more than a 1 000 children every day in Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Dunoon and Joe Slovo For many of the children who come to Lungi’s Kitchen, this is their only meal of the day.

The partnership with the Kolisi Foundation has helped double the number of children being served each day.

Addressing gender-based violence
According to women’s rights practitioners in South Africa, one of the most common responses from survivors of gender-based violence is “I wish I had been able to at least protect myself.” In response to this, the Kolisi Foundation, together with NPOs and community organisations, sourced and put together Power2You Packs to hand out to women in order to put power back in their hands. The packs contain pepper spray, a whistle, as well as a journal that has resourceful information about seeking justice, legal help and healing.

Since August 2020, the Kolisi Foundation has distributed more than 12 000 Power2You Packs. In addition, the Foundation runs regular public awareness campaigns, highlighting the work of gender-based violence organisations working in the areas of trauma response, containment, victim rights advocacy, shelter and empowerment. The Kolisi Foundation funds a 24/7 trauma support line through the Community Intervention Centre and a social worker for the Justice Desk’s intervention programmes with girls and boys.

Bringing hope through sport
Siya believes that “equipping kids with a better infrastructure to live their dreams will bring hope and offer that little bit of encouragement they may need.” The focus of the Foundation in 2022 is therefore on further developing its Education and Sports Development programmes, with a particular focus on Zwide, Gqeberha, as a flagship project for its ongoing programmatic work.

The Foundation wants to help more schools and sporting clubs be able to offer high-quality training facilities and equipment. Its aim is to give more children equitable access to opportunities where they can excel in academic, sporting and recreational activities within their communities.

The story continues
The journey of the Kolisi Foundation is about stories, collaboration and change. It’s about making a difference, one by one. One person, one community, and hopefully one country at a time.

Should you wish to collaborate with the Kolisi Foundation, or find out more, please visit the foundation’s website.

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