Rugby World Cup-winning captain of South Africa, Siya Kolisi, is contributing his mite to taking care of the underprivileged in his country during coronavirus-forced restrictions that have impeded economic wellbeing.
Kolisi’s help is going to the people of Zwide, the impoverished township outside Port Elizabeth where Kolisi himself grew up.
With the help of his wife Rachel and through the Siya Kolisi Foundation, the world rugby champion has been putting together everything from food to personal protective equipment to workers and the townspeople.
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He told CNN that his efforts are borne out of the story of his own life.
“For me, it’s personal. There’s nothing worse than hunger. There’s nothing worse than listening to your stomach before you go to bed and you just hear grumbling. You have nothing to eat, you’ve got no other choice,” Kolisi told CNN.
As South Africa nears 5,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, Kolisi and his wife recognize the need to spread the generosity to other deprived townships.
But the president also seemed to preempt criticisms of choosing the economy over the lives of South Africans by placing the responsibility to overcome the coronavirus on the doorsteps of citizens.
“Ultimately, it is our own actions, as individuals, that will determine how quickly the virus spreads,” Ramaphosa said in a speech last week.
Kolisi was born to teenage parents in Zwide some 28 years ago. His parents were incapable of raising him so they left him in the care of his maternal grandmother.
At 12, a rugby coach at a private school, Andrew Hayidakis, saw the gangly preteen Kolisi playing rugby and offered him a scholarship. That was the first step on the path towards being a world champion.