GOTG Team Leaves Tonight

Thanks for your wonderful support, warm words and encouragement. A special thanks to the media for all the fantastic coverage thus far. We appreciate it immensely. Update:

Gift of the Givers 10-member Search and Rescue Team departs on an Air France flight at 8.30pm tonight to Paris and onward to Haiti. The team led by Ahmed Bam and accompanied by a group of highly skilled professionals in Disaster Response, Urban Rescue and Advanced Life Support will be the first South African team to respond to the victims of the Haiti Earthquake. The team are carrying R2.5 million of heavy rescue equipment in an effort to locate survivors in the rubble. A substantial amount of essential and emergency medicines will accompany this team.An estimated 300 000 people have perished in this tragedy with many more injured and homeless.

If needs be, this first team will be supported by a 2nd 8-member Search and Rescue team within the next 48hrs. A third team of highly skilled Trauma Medical specialists including orthopaedic, trauma and maxillo facial surgeons, anaestethists and advanced life support paramedics are next in line. This team will also carry substantial amounts of medical supplies with them.

Arrangements are being made to accomodate the media in the next phase depending on the availability of seats on the commercial flights which is the major hurdle at this moment in time. 

Gift of the Givers has R5 million rand of supplies including tents, blankets, water purification tablets, high energy and protein supplements, bottled water and additional medicines on standby to fly out to Haiti, depending on the availability of a Boeing 747 at a cost effective price. Any small aircraft cannot be utilised because of the major flight over the Atlantic Ocean.Negotiations are underway for this purpose. The alternative we are considering is the purchase of supplies in countries neighbouring Haiti.

The Gift of the Givers mission is supported by the President's Office, the Dept of International Relations and the Dept of Health. Support has also been received from the South African Catholic Bishops Conference and the Anglican Church.

The 10-member team will be available to meet the media at 3.45pm at our offices in 43 Mint Road today, before our convoy departs for O.R. Tambo International, as this has been requested by some media groups including CNN. Members of the Anglican Church will also be at the office to offer a prayer for the team.

A special thanks to Air France for all its assistance, in particular Liz; also a special thank you to the French Embassy that went out of its way to assist us with visas at no cost. A big thank you to the South African public. Anyone wanting to make contributions can call us on 0800 786 777 or deposit directly into Gift of the Givers, Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg, A/C no. 052137228, Branch Code 057525. The toll free line to Johannesburg office is under repair. Please call 011 832 1563 or 083 6677 179 for Jhb. website www.giftofthegivers.org