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Bok captain Kolisi goes back to his roots to feed destitute

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SHOWS:

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (FILE - AUGUST 26, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. SPRINGBOKS CAPTAIN SIYA KOLISI JOINING HIS TEAM ON STAGE AT THE SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE 2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (FILE - NOVEMBER 5, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

2. VARIOUS OF KOLISI AMONG CROWD WITH WEBB ELLIS TROPHY ALOFT AS THE SPRINGBOKS RETURNED FROM THE WORLD CUP AS CHAMPIONS

ZWIDE, SOUTH AFRICA (RECENT - APRIL 18, 2020) (KOLISI FOUNDATION - MUST COURTESY "KOLISI FOUNDATION")

3. KOLISI (RIGHT) GREETING LOCALS WHILE WORKING WITH HIS FOUNDATION IN HIS HOMETOWN

UNKNOWN LOCATION, SOUTH AFRICA (APRIL 30, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

4. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPRINGBOKS 2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP WINNING CAPTAIN, SIYA KOLISI, ON MOTIVATION BEHIND HIS FOUNDATION, SAYING:

"A lot of people are going hungry and there's always been hungry people before the pandemic, but now the problem is people don't have jobs. They don't have work, they've all been cut off work, so, they can't even get that little bit they used to get in each and every single day, so, now we're trying to help out in those areas. Especially in the townships, it's really hard because people don't have a lot of land to farm. Where in the rural areas people might have land, but they don't have water. Those are the new challenges that we're seeing each and every single day. And I thought I kind of knew what struggle was until I went to Limpopo this past weekend. Seeing people without water, using water from the side of the road. Some of the water the animals were drinking from and you'll see a little kid bathing in that water. And yeah, it's really painful to see stuff like that and it's actually given me more drive to keep on going."

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, (FILE - NOVEMBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

5. SPRINGBOKS SQUAD ON TOP OF BUS AS THEY PARADE THROUGH STREETS WITH KOLISI HOLDING TROPHY IN FRONT OF SCREAMING FANS

6. FANS SCREAMING AND CHEERING

UNKNOWN LOCATION, SOUTH AFRICA (APRIL 30, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPRINGBOKS 2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP WINNING CAPTAIN, SIYA KOLISI, ON WHO HIS FOUNDATION IS HELPING, SAYING:

"We're feeding over a 1000 people, no 1200, so, we're doing 500 in my township, all the streets that I used to walk and all the people that I used to go ask for bread, now I'm going to go try and help out for the next couple of months. And then we'll go to Rachel's hometown, my wife, and we're going to go and help out there as well. And then there's a couple of school kids that we're helping from my old school. I think 85 families from them and then there is also a creche, like a couple of creches or people from a creche that we're helping as well."

SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA, (FILE - NOVEMBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

8. VARIOUS OF KOLISI LIFTING WEBB ELLIS CUP ALOFT ON TOP OF BUS

UNKNOWN LOCATION, SOUTH AFRICA (APRIL 30, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPRINGBOKS 2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP WINNING CAPTAIN, SIYA KOLISI, ON BALANCING HIS TRAINING WITH HIS FOUNDATION WORK, SAYING:

"I know that, you know, there's so many people who need this (help) and if I stop now, and I know like everybody's telling me you must pace yourself it's a long (time), I know that, but I think I'll be alright because people are hungry right now. So, I'd make sure that I'm training during the week and then in the weekends I travel to these places."

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (NOVEMBER 5, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

10. KOLISI HOLDING WEBB ELLIS CUP AHEAD OF NEWS CONFERENCE

11. KOLISI AND WEBB ELLIS CUP DURING NEWS CONFERENCE

12. KOLISI POSING WITH WEBB ELLIS CUP AND CHILDREN

UNKNOWN LOCATION, SOUTH AFRICA (APRIL 30, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

13. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPRINGBOKS 2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP WINNING CAPTAIN, SIYA KOLISI, ON WHAT HIS FOUNDATION IS PROVIDING, SAYING:

"We were able to get over 5000 liters of sanitizer and for some, so we distributed amongst three hospitals and they were all public hospitals who really needed the help at the time and over 4000 reusable masks for the doctors as well."

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (FILE - NOVEMBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

14. KOLISI WITH WEBB ELLIS CUP ARRIVING FOR CEREMONY WITH SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

15. SPRINGBOK 2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP WINNING HEAD COACH RASSIE ERASMUS, RAMAPHOSA AND KOLISI POSING FOR PHOTOS WITH THE WEBB ELLIS CUP

UNKNOWN LOCATION, SOUTH AFRICA (APRIL 30, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

16. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPRINGBOKS 2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP WINNING CAPTAIN, SIYA KOLISI, ON UNITY, SAYING:

"The one thing that I've taken out of this (pandemic) is the unity that we're speaking about with South Africans. You're seeing brands who would normally compete, now are working together. I'll go meet with different brands and I will tell them I'm working with your opposition. They're like 'it doesn't matter. All we want to do is make sure people are fed'. And that's the most important thing, that's what I'm loving in this period."

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, (FILE - NOVEMBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

17. KOLISI LIFTING WEBB ELLIS CUP ALOFT

18. FANS CHEERING

19. PAINTING OF KOLISI IN CROWD

UNKNOWN LOCATION, SOUTH AFRICA (APRIL 30, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

20. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPRINGBOKS 2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP WINNING CAPTAIN, SIYA KOLISI, ON COMING TOGETHER TO FIGHT CORONAVIRUS, SAYING:

"It's really good to get people from different walks of life to come together. You know, athletes from different walks of life and just playing different sports as well, I think that's also amazing. That's exciting for me, you know, and like we can learn a lot from each other. I think the most important thing is uniting all, fighting for the same thing because we're all being challenged by the same problem right now and using our different platforms to try and help as many people as we can because this is a humanity fight. It doesn't matter where you're from, we're all facing the same problem today."

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (FILE - AUGUST 22, 2018) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

21. VARIOUS OF KOLISI TRAINING IN THE GYM

TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - OCTOBER 24, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

22. KOLISI WALKING DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS SINGING AHEAD OF TRAINING

23. VARIOUS OF KOLISI AT TRAINING

KUMAGAYA, JAPAN (FILE - SEPTEMBER 5, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

24. KOLISI RUNNING AND PASSING BALL DURING TRAINING

FUKUROI CITY, JAPAN (FILE - OCTOBER 3, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

25. KOLISI STRETCHING ON PITCH AND RUNNING OFF

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (FILE - SEPTEMBER 20, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

26. KOLISI PASSING BALL AT TRAINING

27. KOLISI STRETCHING

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (FILE - AUGUST 16, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

28. KOLISI RUNNING WITH BALL

SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA (FILE - NOVEMBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

29. KOLISI HOLDING WEBB ELLIS CUP AS BUS DRIVES PAST

STORY: Six months ago Siya Kolisi led South Africa to Rugby World Cup glory, but is now fighting a new battle as he returns to his roots to help feed those left destitute by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in some of the country's poorest areas.

That stunning victory in Japan last November shot the Springbok captain to global fame and cemented his place as arguably South Africa's most recognisable and admired current sportsman.

In a time of crisis for the country, which the National Treasury warned on Thursday could leave an additional seven million people out of work, and the unemployment rate above 50%, Kolisi told Reuters of his new fight to help feed impoverished citizens.

He recently set up the Kolisi Foundation along with wife Rachel, which initially started with the supply of sanitiser and masks for frontline medical workers, but has now moved to filling empty stomachs.

"A lot of people are going hungry, in fact 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," Kolisi said.

"We are trying to help out where we can, especially in the township where it is really hard because people don't have the land to farm. Then in the rural areas, people might have land, but they don't have access to water. Those are the new challenges that we see every day."

Thousands of people queued for miles outside Pretoria on Thursday for charity food aid meant to relieve hunger caused by the coronavirus lockdown, showing the extent of need in the country.

Kolisi, who is able to travel during lockdown due to the essential work of his foundation, said one recent trip was particularly harrowing.

"I thought I knew what struggle was until I went to Limpopo, seeing people without water, using water from the side of the road or that the animals are drinking from.

"You will see a little kid actually bathing in that water. It was really painful to watch."

This weekend he will return to the Zwide township near Port Elizabeth, where he was raised before rugby provided his escape from poverty.

"We are feeding over 1,200 people. We are doing 500 in my township, all the streets that I used to walk and all the people I used to go and ask for bread ... now I am going to go and try and help out for the next couple of months.

"We are also helping out some kids at my old school, that is 85 families, and there are also some creches that we are assisting."

Kolisi, along with a number of other global figures in sport, has also joined the Pandemic Action Network, an advocate for resources to ensure countries are better prepared for pandemic threats.

"It is an amazing project, it is good to get business people and athletes from different walks of life together. We can learn a lot from each other and I think the most important thing is uniting and fighting for the same thing.

"We can use our platforms to help as many people as we can, because this is a fight for humanity, it doesn't matter where you are from."

(Production: Stefan Haskins)

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