Gift of the Givers mark 23rd anniversary
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Gift of the Givers mark 23rd anniversary

A KZN disaster relief group, Gift of the Givers, today marks 23 years since its inception.

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The NGO was founded on August 6, 1992 and has seen R1.2 billion in aid delivered to 41 countries. 

The disaster agency primarily provides search and rescue efforts but also delves into agricultural sustainability, educational support and counselling. 

Founder, Imtiaz Sooliman says they are grateful for the support received from South Africa and outside its borders.

"The biggest joy is seeing the growth of the organisation - how we've developed over the years in terms of our staff, our infrastructure and how we've accessed so many communities. 

"What's outstanding is the number of volunteers that are coming forward - both medical and search and rescue. These are South Africans prepared to risk their lives in other countries to help people they have no relation to. They've taken the spirit of Ubuntu to Africa and other parts of the globe," he says. 

Speaking to Newswatch, Sooliman says he started the organisation after a defining moment during a trip to Istanbul. 

"I met a spiritual teacher that gave me an instruction to form an organisation, serving people of any geographical location, all races, religions and classes and to serve them unconditionally and expect nothing in return and it will grow. I didn't understand it then but I understand it now," he adds. 

Here is a mention of some of the organisation's biggest missions to date. 

Earthquake in Nepal

A rescue team of 43 members comprising of doctors, rescue technicians and SAPS K9 dogs were dispatched to the disaster-hit Nepal in April this year. The NGO flew out the team to reach areas that were not yet accessed by search crews. At least 10 South Africans were reportedly trapped on Mount Everest after the earthquake struck in the South Asian country.

The release of Yolande and Pierre Korkie

The organisation was instrumental in negotiating the return of South African Yolande Korkie who was kidnapped alongside her husband and teacher Pierre in Yemen. A video appeal was released, hand written letters were sent and pleas to lessen the ransom were issued in attempts to secure Pierre's release. He was killed in an attempted hostage release after being held captive in the country for 19 months. 

Stephen McGowen in Mali 

Gift of the Givers stepped in with efforts to reach out to the Mali militants holding South African, Stephen McGown hostage. This came after video footage was released in June showing Stephen - held hostage since 2011 - and fellow captive Swede Johan Gustafson. The organisation says it has put out a video to initiate communication to be circulated by media bodies in that region. 

Church collapse in Lagos, Nigeria

Following the deaths of 81 South Africans after a building collapsed in Nigeria, the NGO placed local teams on standby and used Nigerian representatives to assist at the site. Among supplies and luggage that was delivered, children were reconciled with their families upon arrival in SA.  

(File photos)

 

 

 

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