“There is nothing worse than hunger. There is nothing worse than listening to your stomach before you go to bed and you only hear grumbling. You have nothing to eat, you have no other choice.
Growing up in Zwide Township, just outside of Port Elizabeth, the Kolisi bed was a pile of pillows on the living room floor and finding food to eat was a daily struggle. It was a life which, he said, was incompatible with social estrangement.
“If I went without food for a few days, I would go to my neighbor’s house and ask for something,” he said. “Sometimes we live in a house with 10 or 15 people in a room. It is really difficult to have social distance.”
After seeing the impact of the foreclosure on the poorest in South Africa, Kolisi and his wife, Rachel, mobilized help.
They advanced the launch of their charity – the Kolisi Foundation – this month, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to front-line workers and delivering food parcels to Zwide Township, carrying door to door to awaken spirit and awareness.
“With the food packages we drop off, we are adding messages in the local Xhosa dialect, as it is mainly for the regions of Xhosa,” said Kolisi.
“We gave instructions there for the masks – all at Xhosa – on how to put them on … But the most important thing is: if you want people to stay at home, tell them why. you can’t just tell someone to stay home and give them nothing. “
The couple hope to extend this device to other cantons. Kolisi wants to give back and also wants to encourage others.
“I am no longer at a disadvantage and I do not see myself like that,” he said. “But I know what it feels like. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to come from there to be able to give back. There’s no better feeling than helping someone one else. “
Closed inside, Kolisi had time to revisit his extraordinary rugby world cup victory and, for the first time, watched the final against England – 80 minutes that whistled when he was on the field, the weight of a nation on its shoulders.
To cheer up a nation, the finale was recently rebroadcast on television, and in Kolisi’s house, there was no dispute over the remote control that night – Kolisi’s wife made everything watch the world to meet.
“We looked at it again and found all the chicken bumps,” she said. “When Siya played as if you didn’t see people and everything that was going on.”
“I remember everything,” he said. “It was exactly what we needed. You know, exactly what I needed. He talked about all the struggles and things you have experienced in your life and how you can use them during the day , so that you can change the future of the other people who come behind you. “
How will Kolisi feel when the sport returns, when the stadiums can safely fill up with thousands of fans again? “It’s going to be incredible,” he said. “I think sport does a lot of things for people. You know, it makes people happy sometimes. It talks to everyone.”
Yet even this aspiration to return to the field does not distract attention from the urgency of the current crisis.
“The most important thing is to make sure everyone is safe and protected,” he said. “Then we can get through this together. It doesn’t matter who you are right now. We all want to fight this thing together and we have to stay united as a humanity.”