Gift of the Givers Proud Record of Providing Assistance Highlighted in UKZN Lecture
Details of challenges and successes experienced by volunteers of the Gift of the Givers during its 24 years of existence, were highlighted by the aid organisation’s founder, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, in a lecture hosted by UKZN recently.
Delivering the 23rd annual Alan Paton Memorial Lecture on the Pietermaritzburg campus, Sooliman spoke about the actions of volunteers of Gift of the Givers from their first relief work in Bosnia in 1994 to the disaster relief they provided to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010.
Speaking under the theme of human rights and humanitarianism, Sooliman, an honorary UKZN graduate, emphasised the need for better understanding and compassion among people, saying that folk need to be reminded to retain their Ubuntu (human kindness).
‘Man has lost humanity. We forget sometimes that we all bleed the same, we all experience the same pain.’
With delivery of about R1.4-billion in aid to 41 countries, the organisation has been instrumental in ensuring pioneering services, including developing the world’s first containerised mobile hospital for use in Bosnia; rescuing the first survivor of the Haiti quake eight days after the event, and boldly asking the Pope to ensure safe passage of the organisation’s members to Haiti.
Sooliman explained that often rules and bureaucracy hindered the need to help others as quickly as possible. There was a need to focus on quick action instead of meetings.
* The Alan Paton Lecture. held annually on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus, commemorates Alan Paton’s life as well as providing a forum to discuss areas of interest he was most involved in during his lifetime, including liberalism, the struggle against apartheid, reform for juvenile offenders as well as education, environment, literary, and human rights issues.