While war is ravaging countries around the world, one organization is assisting those most affected in conflicts by affecting positive change. The Gift of the Givers Foundation, which is a South African NGO, while conducting sterling work locally, has affected positive change in countries around the world. As the largest disaster relief organization of African origin, the organization has in recent months assisted war and poverty stricken areas, including; Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the Gaza Strip.
Speaking to VOC, founder and firector of the foundation, Imtiaz Sooliman explains that al-Rahma hospital in Syria, which is funded by the Gift of the Givers, is no longer the major hospital within the northern area, but due to the on-going conflict has become the major hospital in the whole of Syria.
Sooliman says that the foundation is currently in process of assisting in the extension of a building across the road from the hospital to service non-emergency patients. The hospital, which services patients who have fled ravage towns across Syria, consists of three floors.
While doctors in the hospital assists at least12, 000 patients monthly, last year the foundation constructed the Al-Hilal Hospital in order to assist with the load of patients at Al-Rahma Hospital.
Sooliman further noted that doctors also assist non-emergency patients with the use of mobile clinics that are located in various parts of Syria.
“When it’s heavy bombing and patients are unable to come to the Al-Rahma Hospital we send doctors to those hospitals to try and save as many lives as possible,” Sooliman continued.
The foundation has established a feeding scheme in order to facilitate patients, doctors and the hungry and is working toward establishing an orphanage.
He said that since the establishment of the Al-Rahma Hospital, an influx of refugees has occurred, since the accompanying feeding scheme and safety zone provides basic necessities.
With regard to the Yemen conflict, Sooliman described the situation as “tough” and says that the inaccessibility of fuel, the import difficulties, and the inability to construct water wells has proven arduous.
“There are lots of challenges in Yemen, from the fighting to the economic challenges and even to get money into the country is so difficult,” he added.
While the foundation continues to face challenges, Sooliman affirms that the team has worked tirelessly to deliver medical supplies at night and have managed to build a borehole inside the foundations warehouse. The water pumped from the borehole is then delivered to various parts of the country, depending on availability of fuel.
In addition to the logistical challenges faced by the foundation, Sooliman says that more than 14 million people live below the poverty line, resulting in malnutrition and hunger.
“There is a village called the blind village, where 60 per cent of the residents are genetically blind – they need housing, food, and medical care. We have been able to assist them despite challenges.”
Closer to home, the organization has made strides in Somalia where it has faced numerous socio-economic challenges, including ravaging floods.
“The Gift of the Givers team was involved in building water walls, working with the government and the people. We assisted those that were caught in the floods by boat, and delivered food, medical care, and multiple clinics,” Sooliman says.
After assisting with flood damage, the area was subsequently faced with a drought. In addition to supplying vital medical services, the foundation delivered 21 containers of aid for the month of Ramadan and for the general assistance after Ramadan.
“There are medical supplies, food, and clothes for the patients and anyone who requires it.”
In addition to assisting in poverty stricken areas of the world, the organization has for many years worked to mitigate the effect of the Israeli blockade on those residing within the Gaza Strip.
As one of the foundations initiatives in the area, Sooliman says that the six-floor childcare clinic, which is located in one of the poorest areas of the strip, has made great strides.
This week, the foundation set-up a much anticipated market and gave each family a voucher to the value of 60 USD. In a “dignified” manner, the families subsequently ‘purchased’ all the goods that they require.
“Some families said that they do not require the full 60 USD. So all the goods that were left was sold at a discounted price so that others could purchase it at a very low cost.”
The market is scheduled to be open twice more this week.
For information or to assist, contact the Gift of the Givers Foundation on their TOLL-FREE number: 0800 786 786. VOC