It was a packed house at the Gift of the Givers warehouse in Athlone last night where community members, activists, businesspeople and journalists gathered for the Cape Town launch of the humanitarian agency’s book launch. Imtiaz Sooliman and the Gift of the Givers: A Mercy to All is written by VOC veteran journalist Shafiq Morton and details the NGO’s beginnings and its most memorable humanitarian missions.
“The underlying ethos of Gift of the Givers is our humanity. It’s simply about reaching out and giving a helping hand. Our help crosses creed, class, and religion,” Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman told the audience.
The book reflected the trials and the triumph of South Africans making a difference in most poorest and often volatile regions in the world. Its global humanitarian efforts have propelled Gift of the Givers to become the largest disaster relief agency in Africa.
Morton was commissioned to write the book and completed the book in less than a year. It was an opportunity no journalist would let pass by. Sharing the platform on Tuesday evening, Sooliman and Morton presented a slide show with photos of memorable missions and shared stories of hope and inspiration that encapsulated the human spirit.
Morton went on many relief missions as a reporter and feels he has become somewhat of a “disaster journalist”.
“The ethos of this book is humanity. It’s about the human experience,” said Morton.
One of the most grueling missions was a trip to Haiti, struck by a magnitude 7.0 quake in January 2010. The relief agency’s disaster team took part in the dramatic rescue of a 70-year-old woman, seven days after the quake struck. Rescue workers said it was a miracle that she had survived.
“South Africans are changing the world,” said Sooliman.
The book is a tribute to all Gift of the Giver’s medical staff, paramedics, logistical staff, volunteers and donors for their outstanding committment and sacrifice. At the launch, some of the organisation’s many medical doctors in attendance were applauded for their efforts.
Amongst its many achievements, the humanitarian agency designed and developed the world’s first and largest containerised mobile hospital, which was deployed in Bosnia.
“One the 1st February 1994, CNN said that the South African mobile hospital was equivalent to some of the best hospitals in Europe. It shows the quality of what we do and of course, the hearts’ of South Africans,” said Sooliman.
The book is available at GOTG offices at 45 Noll Avenue, Athlone, Industria. For more information, contact Gawa Sayed on 021 638 7909 or 021 633 5148. VOC (Nishta Sookdiyal)