“My son, you will form an organisation. The name will be Waqful Waqifin, and that name is translated into ‘Gift of the Givers’. You will serve all people of all races, of all religions, of all colours, of all classes, of all political affiliations and of any geographical location. You will serve them unconditionally.”
– Sufi Sheikh Muhammed Saffer Effendi al Jerrahi
… After receiving this message from his spiritual leader in Istanbul, Turkey, at the age of just 30, Gift of the Givers founder, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, immediately heeded the calling… and continues to do so to this day.
Following that life-changing day in 1992, Dr Sooliman returned to South Africa, left a flourishing career as a medical doctor and established the Gift of the Givers Foundation.
In the intervening years, he has travelled to some of the most desolate, war-torn and disaster-struck areas of the world, heading relief missions. Through his work with Gift of the Givers, he and his teams have responded to the needs of countless people affected by a wide range of natural and man-made disasters, such as floods, famine, tsunamis, earthquakes and wars.
He has facilitated the establishment of hospitals, run clinics, created agricultural schemes, dug wells, built houses, developed and manufactured an energy food, renovated fishing boats, offered scholarships and provided food and shelter to millions.
The transition from doctor to humanitarian was both seamless and simple.
He is driven by the same basic principles that led to his becoming a medical doctor: respect, care, professionalism and dedication. But there is something else that fuels Dr Sooliman’s passion for humanitarianism – the solid belief in the common humanity that unites us. His fervour for, and belief in, mankind is what really motivates and energises him, and the reason is his faith.
His sense of community is felt throughout his endeavours with Gift of the Givers.
When disaster strikes or pleas for assistance are sounded – whether in South Africa or abroad – he and Gift of the Givers are ready with an immediate response, swiftly rallying the organisation’s network of doctors, nurses, relief workers and other professionals, and despatching humanitarian and medical supplies to disaster areas.
The Gift of the Givers Foundation is the largest disaster response, non-governmental organisation of African origin on the African continent.
It works to unite people, with a common vision, to make a real and telling difference by serving mankind for the ‘Greater Good’ .
Assistance is provided unconditionally; assisting the needy, irrespective of human or animal, race, religion, colour, class, political affiliation or geographic location.
Since its inception in 1992, the organisation has been responsible for the delivery of life-saving goods and on-the-ground support for innumerable people, collectively valued at some R3.2 billion, in more than 43 countries across the globe, including South Africa.
Gift of the Givers restores the hope and dignity of the most vulnerable in their time of need, rebuilding prosperous communities and empowering leaders of tomorrow.
Our responses to disasters vary considerably, dependent on prevailing conditions in identified disaster or war zones.
We have the immediate capacity to deliver all the appropriate materials, inclusive of :
In addition, we are able to immediately call on professional search and rescue teams and medical specialists, whilst facilitating the evacuation of affected people.
We also undertake the rebuilding and/or rehabilitation of infrastructure, such as homes, schools and medical facilities damaged during crises.
Hunger is a universal problem.
In recognition of this, we distribute in excess of 100 000 food parcels annually, prepare and serve hot meals at our own centres, whilst also supporting existing feeding schemes through the provision of thousands of meals on a daily basis.
We further assist in key agricultural projects, supporting subsistence farmers in distress, as well as providing animal feed for needy farmers during crippling drought events.
Water is a precious and scarce resource and one evermore affected by global climate change.
We have in place a number of water tankers, used for the delivery of water to desperate communities, and actively encourage the harvesting and recycling of water, whilst also establishing desalination treatment plants and providing point-of-use water purification solutions and – as a last resort – go so far as to provide bottled water to critically-affected communities.
We are integrally involved with borehole drilling operations, together with the development of such sites at schools, clinics and other central community points. Our team, headed by a geohydrologist with more than 40 years experience, is responsible for the sighting, drilling, testing, developing and monitoring all our borehole sites on a continuous basis.
The under-development of many historically disadvantaged communities is regarded as a massive socio-economic problem.
Recognising this, we have developed a series of programmes designed to promote the empowerment and dignity of our young people, including:
We contribute towards the creation of an environment conducive to the improved education of the disadvantaged.
Access to sound healthcare is the right of every citizen.
We have the capacity to contribute meaningfully to the provision of both healthcare facilities and practitioners.
A current key project involves our successful operation of one of the largest hospitals in war-torn Northern Syria. As a consequence, the Geneva-based humanitarian movement, Red Crescent, has entrusted our organisation with responsibility for a second hospital.
We have primary healthcare workers, doctors and mid-wives who spend extensive time in the field in Somalia and we direct a Poor Patient Fund, which covers hospital treatment for patients unable to afford hospital such care in the Middle East.
In addition, we have also been actively involved in: